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What’s going to bring the ‘nones’ back to the Church?

By Matt Hadro

(Image: Andrew Dong | Unsplash.com)

Baltimore, Md., Jun 14, 2019 / 02:49 pm (CNA).- As the U.S. bishops gathered in Baltimore this week, primarily to vote on proposals to respond to the clergy abuse crisis, another crisis loomed large with no easy solutions—how to evangelize the “nones,” or people with no religious affiliation.

Bishop Robert Barron, auxiliary bishop of Los Angeles and chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Evangelization and Catechesis, delivered a presentation on Tuesday morning at the annual spring meeting of the U.S. bishops on “this massive attrition of our own people, particularly the young” from the Church. He exhorted fellow bishops “to look at this issue of who are the unaffiliated, why are they leaving, and how do we get them back.”

He presented some sobering statistics: for every one person joining the Church today, 6.45 are leaving. Almost eight in ten leave by the age of 23, and the median age for leaving the Church is just 13 years old.

Where are they going? While roughly one quarter are becoming Evangelical, and another 25 percent are joining another religion or denomination of Christianity, half are simply atheist, agnostic, or without any religious affiliation, Barron said.

“Most are ambivalent about religion rather than hostile to it,” he noted.

They are leaving Catholicism primarily because “they don’t believe it,” he told CNA in an interview on Thursday. Regarding “the questions about God and about Jesus and about eternal life and about the soul,” he said, “they don’t believe it. They think religion’s at odds with science. That comes through all the time.”

Bishop Christopher Coyne of Burlington, Vt., agreed with the assessment that a primary reason for young people leaving the Church is a lack of belief. However, he challenged the assumption that there are clear-cut intellectual reasons why teenagers as young as 13 are leaving the Church. “The question that popped into my head was were they really believing (in the first place)?” he said of the statistic.

According to Barron, some of the other common reasons given for lack of religious affiliation are a perceived intolerance of revealed religion, opposition to being told what to do, a belief in a personal relationship with God outside of revealed religion, and a perception that religion is anti-science or anti-rational.

Some of the reasons Barron gave for the migration of young people away from the Church are secularism, and with it, a culture of relativism “which gives rise to the self-invention culture (of)…I decide who I am. I decide what I believe.”

Thus, when the Church makes objective claims and preaches dogmas and doctrines, “that meets with a lot of resistance,” particularly teachings on sexuality and morality which are a “stumbling block for a lot of people,” Barron added.

However, despite recent revelations of clerical sex abuse and misconduct and cover-up by bishops and prelates, the abuse crisis has not played a primary role in young people departing the Church, both bishops said.

“It’s not been certainly one of the top reasons. It’s there, but certainly not a top reason,” Barron said.

“All of the surveys that I’ve seen around people who have turned 18 since 2000,” Coyne said, “the abuse crisis is way, way down on the list of why they left the Church, and why they’re not affiliated with the Church.”

According to a survey of the religiously unaffiliated by the Pew Research Center conducted in December of 2017, 25 percent of respondents said that “I question a lot of religious teachings” is the most important reason they do not identify with a religion, the leading reason among the “Nones” for their lack of affiliation.

“I think we’ve underplayed the intellectual side. We’ve undervalued what kids are capable of, intellectually,” Barron said, noting that young people are leaving the Church “more and more consciously. They are making a conscious decision—not just drifting away, but they are deciding to go. And that’s often on intellectual grounds.”

During his presentation to the bishops, Barron brought up University of Toronto psychology professor Jordan Peterson and his popular online discussion of the Bible as an example of young people still showing interest in religion despite having no official affiliation.

However, the mere mention of the controversial best-selling author of “12 Rules for Life” at the meeting of the bishops provoked backlash and claims that the conference had endorsed Peterson’s treatment of the Bible as a “model” for evangelization.

On Thursday. Barron clarified that he brought up Peterson not to cast him as a model for evangelization, but rather to draw attention to his online appeal and evoke questions as to why he is so popular.

“It really wasn’t about the content at all, except that he is talking about the Bible, which I think is really interesting, and getting millions of views with learned talks about the Bible, which aren’t bad,” Barron told CNA. “From a psychological perspective, they’re pretty good I think.”

He brought up Peterson “to look at the phenomenon and say maybe we’ve been underplaying what our young people are capable of. Maybe we can address these issues at a high level too.”

However, in addition to paying attention to intellectual currents among the religiously unaffiliated, cultural and sociological currents need to be considered as well, Coyne insisted. For example, there are trends showing that Millennials do not join parishes or social clubs at nearly the same rates as previous generations once did—and thus may be harder to reach within the traditional boundaries of parish life.

Furthermore, approaches to evangelization cannot be “too high-altitude,” he cautioned, because in addition to young people who are invested in intellectual debates about religion such as online forums about atheism or Jordan Peterson’s discussion of the Bible, there are many other Millennials without a college education who don’t partake in any of these discussions.

Vermont has one of the highest graduation rates for high school students, Coyne said, but one of the lowest rates of graduates who enter college; instead of tertiary education, they pursue careers in small business, the military or other occupations that don’t require a college degree.

“A 22 year-old in a double-wide in rural Vermont is not going to put the YouTube of the psychologist from Toronto on who talks about faith,” he said.

So what is working for evangelization in his diocese? Ideally, the faith is learned at home, practiced by the parents, and passed on to the children, he said.

“I would say if we’re going to try and help people raise children in the faith so as to make a good choice to stay in the faith, then they have to be disciples,” Coyne said. “I’m seeing that in a lot of our families that stay in the Church, the parents are disciples because they choose to stay in the Catholic Church.”

“It’s not a matter of cultural Catholicism, it’s Catholicism by choice,” he added.

For adults who are religiously unaffiliated and living apart from their families, there’s also networking, he said. Lay Catholics in Burlington have begun to form Catholic business associations and medical associations not unlike the guilds from centuries ago, and in the process have been able to form relationships and support each other in the faith.

“It’s the Holy Spirit, it’s incredible,” Coyne said. “The evangelization part is really being picked up by lay men and lay women, and they understand that evangelization is relational.”

“They come together, they pray, they support each other, and they also talk about the struggles of being a Catholic in the medical profession or being Catholic in the business community.”

For example, a local doctor started a Catholic medical association group and “they had their first meeting at my house, they had about 40 people come who are all in the medical profession, who are all Catholics who are looking to network,” Coyne said.

Meanwhile, regarding evangelization on the intellectual level, Barron pointed to the Catholics who are prolific in their evangelization through social media and in person such as his Word on Fire Ministries, FOCUS, St. Paul Street Evangelization, and figures such as Scott Hahn and Peter Kreeft.

He also admitted to other paths to the faith than through purely intellectual arguments, such as the “way of beauty” and the “way of justice.”

“Young people respond very much to the call to social justice,” he said. “There’s a huge part of our tradition around that, from John Chrysostom to Dorothy Day and Pope Francis. That’s a wonderful tradition.”

If there was one thing he could tell a lay Catholic at a parish about evangelization to others, Barron said, “don’t be afraid to tell them about your relationship with the Lord.”

“Don’t be afraid to share your faith, and talk about your faith and what it means to you. And people will respond to that, even if they don’t seem to at first.”


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23 Comments

  1. Why so many defections from the Faith in that age-group? It is the first cohort in US Catholic history in which the vast majority never attended a Catholic school — a testimony to the pastoral neglect of the vast majority of pastors and bishops. All the sociological studies reveal that Catholic school graduates continue to remain faithful at rates three and four times higher than Catholics who attend the government schools. And yet, where is the support, indeed the push, for our Catholic elementary and secondary schools?

    • Fr. Stravinskas,

      I mean no offense, but the quality of the Catholicity of most Catholic schools in our day is abysmal,and so getting the children into our parochial (or merely diocesan) schools is by no means a sure way of passing on the faith.

      • Spoken like a public school employee. Christian schools do a better job at educating the mind and the soul and at a significant lower monetary investment.

    • I know seven adults who attended Catholic school (and graduated from same) before Vatican II. Four of them abandoned the Church, two remain, and the last only attends occasionally. In many a combox, I see the same lament–parents who made financial sacrifices for their children’s Catholic School’s education, only to see the children walk away.
      .
      I have not read the sociological reports, but three to four times what is likely to be a small number, is still rather small. It would be more interesting to see a statistic like “83.56% of students who graduate from Catholic High School remain and start families…”
      .
      Sadly, I doubt that is a real statistic. I am not especially confident about the younger homeschoolers, either.

  2. Bishop Barron on World Over addressed the growing problem of Nones, youth average age 13 leaving the Church in droves up to 27% latest pew poll. The Bishop correctly identified the preeminence of science positivist anti-transcendental in the main as opposed to religious ideas seemingly myth. Although a major cause among many. Pope Francis perceives an evangelical rationale focused on the poor, who he finds following the philosophy of Argentine Rodolfo Kusch in the unsophisticated Latin Am peon a people at peace with nature animated by myth, meaning cultural heritage. And a people with superior values. That may appeal to today’s youth as an incentive to reengage. Although such theory lacks religious substance and is class oriented consequently divisive. Ironically its frequently similar artful notions of priests’ airing their musings from the pulpit presuming themselves insightful, creative that’s for most youth utterly boring and incomprehensible. Either that or simply a paraphrase of the Gospel. What I hear repeatedly from Laity is that sermons lack challenge, do not address primary articles of faith, heaven, hell, the challenges of the spiritual life, moral courage, abortion, the error of homosexual behavior, suffering as a means of salvation and conversion of sinners. They lack the fire of our faith in practice. What then will bring our clergy to preach like the Apostles? Henri Bergson a Jew admirer of Catholicism as the only inclusive [meaning universal] religion said in The Two Sources of Religion and Morality historically it was virtually always a single person who was able to re-inspire and lead the faithful. Saints Athanasius of Alexandria, Francis of Assisi, Ignatius of Loyola are among the many.

    • Added to my comment is the Lacuna of doctrinal education, pedagogical preaching from the pulpit on the Real Presence [Bishop Barron did mention better ed programs]. Christ really present in the Holy Eucharist is the epicenter of our faith that distinguishes the Mystical Body from all other Christian denominations. It’s simple. If we lose that sense of the Real Presence adherence to doctrine and practice collapse since all doctrine finds its practical relevance there in this very source of meaning and grace. The Real Presence is not taught sufficiently in Cath ed, and I contend in most RCIA programs that often seem geared toward joining a friendly social club. Rather we’re called to gather to worship the greatest miracle of God’s love made accessible to us on the Altar of Sacrifice. That which binds the Christian community in this same faithful love. Reverence the lack thereof is missing and it’s not entirely the NO nor is return to the Tridentine liturgy the entire answer. We must remember the great number of progressive prelates many who engineered the moral debacle post Vat II where all ‘veterans’ of the traditional liturgy. And many of our best prelates today practice the NO. It’s essentially connected with faith in the Real Presence and love of Christ.

  3. Bishop Barron lists some common reasons given by the young for lack of religious affiliation. One of these “a perception that religion is anti-science or anti-rational.” Instead, Evolutionism—a pseudo-religion—covers all the bases in every field of human inquiry.

    But on this very point, what does Charles Darwin himself, late in life, have to say about his own vastly-narrowed viewpoint:

    “This curious and lamentable loss of the higher aesthetic tastes is all the odder, as books on history, biographies, and travels (independently of any scientific facts which they may contain), and essays on all sorts of subjects interest me as much as ever they did. My mind seems to have become a kind of machine for grinding general laws out of large collections of facts, but why this should have caused the ATROPHY of that part of the brain, on which the higher tastes depend, I cannot conceive.

    “A man with a mind more highly organized or better constituted than mine, would not, I suppose, have thus SUFFERED. . . . The loss of these tastes is a loss of happiness, and may possibly be INJURIOUS TO THE INTELLECT, and more probably to the MORAL CHARACTER, by enfeebling the emotional part of our nature. . . . My power to follow a long and purely abstract train of thought is VERY LIMITED; and therefore I COULD NEVER HAVE SUCCEEDED with metaphysics or mathematics” (Sir Francis Darwin, ed., Charles Darwin’s Autobiography, caps added).

    Given our mind-numbing culture, and appealing to more than simply “taste” or “emotion,” what many of the intellectually-abused young need today is, first, DEPROGRAMMING (and then education), and second, the personal discovery of real CURIOSITY.

  4. Without a sufficiently intellectual grounding in the Faith, young people today are at great risk for losing that faith. It doesn’t need to be at a college level, though that is an even stronger position to be in. Education in the Faith can be at the level of the Baltimore Catechism, along with some Church history and a basic Scripture study, as long as it is explained and discussed thoroughly at different ages through the high school years. This would go a long way toward shoring up the faith of many young people. Introducing them to the TLM and its beauty would also help some,as it is a manifestation of the transcendent beliefs taught in an educational setting. As stated in the article, we should not be selling short young peoples’ intellectual capabilities. When the Faith is dumbed down, they think it’s dumb and walk away.

  5. A disciple in the ancient biblical world actively imitated both the life and teaching of the master. It was a deliberate apprenticeship which made the fully formed disciple a living copy of the master.

    True faith induces humility, as a holy heart is a humble heart, because to walk in humility (St Bernard, Humility; a virtue by which a man knowing himself as he truly is, abases himself) is to walk, His ‘Way’ of Truth/love, before our Father in heaven.

    “But I tell you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who mistreat you and persecute you”

    For professed Christians not to do so, would imply, as yet, that we do not have the full light of Christ within us as

    “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your vision is clear, your whole body will be full of light. But if your vision is poor, your whole body will be full of darkness”

    So we need be very, very careful, especially in our own assumed relationship with God and our fellow man as we need to see true discipleship, not mere words; we see this discipleship in St Mother Teresa, who overcame hostility from Hinduism etc. As initially, when she went out into the streets of Calcutta, she had to confront hostility in creating a centre for the destitute, but the ‘gentleness (Humility) of her witness, was accepted, because her witness was authentic’.

    She approached the goodness within men’s hearts, encouraging them, in words to the effect of ‘be good Hindus’, understanding that the Truth (The divine spark) resides in all men’s hearts, waiting to be nourished and they responded positively.

    So In this lived reality (Discipleship) these words by the Master would be applicable…

    “Whoever gives to one of these little (Humble) ones even a cup of cold water because he is a ‘disciple’, truly, I say to you he shall not lose his reward”

    As here we see the basis of reciprocal love in action, emanating from humility (a sincere acknowledgement of goodness) before true Discipleship.

    Through the eyes of faith, we come to see, as God wants (Wills) us to see, that is, that every other, is made in the image of God.

    I believe that Confirmed Discipleship (Male and Female) is the way forward for the Church in our present day: As to-day for many it is easier to accept the status quo as we the ‘laity’ have been led for generations as The Eucharist is the centre of Christian worship and by implication the priest is our ‘Focal Point’, as he is given a special charisma via ordination.

    To Peter “feed my flock” we will always need central direction (Leadership).

    The place name Emmaus is derived from “warm spring” – for me symbolic of the His Way (Journey) the encounter of ‘warm embrace’ in previous times manifest as “see how those Christians love one and other”

    So how do we encounter each other on the ‘Way’ in the market (Working) place of life, from the Tea Plantation to the Office as partaking of the ‘warm spring’ (Grace).

    Where are the working disciples?

    Food for thought: ‘The Emmaus encounter’ incorporates ‘joyous living’ in sharing (breaking) the Bread (Sustenance) of Life publicly, but not the Wine (Blood) suffering of full (Confirmed) discipleship (Focal point) of His Way.

    I have read that “The grace of Confirmation, properly administered, is real, but the recipient has to be properly disposed to receive it”
    And for this reason I believe that The Sacrament of Confirmation should only be conferred on Mature Christians, those capable of discerning the ‘full’ implication /calling/reality of His ‘Way’ of life. While praying not to be led “into temptation (The test)”, rather “but deliver us from evil”.

    “For the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak”

    The Church has lost the sense of awe (mystical tradition) before the ‘living’ Inviolate Word (Will) of God. And this loss has revealed itself in that the elite within the Church have colluding with the ‘ongoing’ breaking of the Second Commandment

    “Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain”

    Please consider continuing via the link which my post/s give conclusive information on the on-going breaking of the Second Commandment.

    http://www.catholicethos.net/errors-amoris-laetitia/#comment-236

    kevin your brother
    In Christ

  6. It’s a woman’s world, and Roman Catholicism has quickly become a religion for women — so what need do men have for it?

  7. “Some of the reasons Barron gave for the migration of young people away from the Church are secularism, and with it, a culture of relativism ‘which gives rise to the self-invention culture (of)…I decide who I am. I decide what I believe.'”

    And yet… the increasingly secularized, “relevant,” and yes, relativistic New Church does NOT draw them in?

    Another irony (posed as a question and unexplored): does science, full blast so to speak, support a belief in “free will” or “self-invention” really?

    “What I hear repeatedly from Laity is that sermons lack challenge, do not address primary articles of faith, heaven, hell, the challenges of the spiritual life, moral courage, abortion, the error of homosexual behavior, suffering as a means of salvation and conversion of sinners. They lack the fire of our faith in practice. ”

    Of course not. There was really no “Fall” and no “original sin.” People, for a start, do not have the “challenge” of THAT. It seems Kantian influenced (vs. Augustinian) “anonymous Christianity” was a lot easier place to get to despite all the philosophical technicalities…and now we’re there. If Muslims, Jews and Hindus have no need to “convert” really…why should a lapsed/non-lapsed baptized young Catholic? There’s no postlapsarian anything anyway…just consciousness building of some form. What percentage of sermons assume that just by reflecting on the Gospel or moralizing about the Gospel and Jesus…we should now “try to put that in practice”…without any clearly taught requirement of Grace and how doing God’s Will requires His Grace? Is any such direct reflection even required really or reference to Christ given our improved more optimistic? notions of consciousness? (And we haven’t even gotten to the sacraments.) We’ve taken the “rational appetite” part of the Thomas too far, a misreading to be sure, but one could say already a tendency in the more optimistic Thomistic view (vs Augustinian). In short, even the sappy, presumably “emotional” approach of many sermons is a kind of head game really MINUS yes the “fire” of “LOVING God’s will” and a head game especially since they seriously underestimate the effects of original sin.

    We have “repaired” Augustine, and have finally virtually discarded him…except as I heard Bishop Barron refer to him in an a Raymond Arroyo interview…as “the restless heart” appeal? in reaching out to the nones.

    Bishop Barron underestimates the effect of the scandal in the Church IMO on these numbers because of poll results?… and impressed by Peterson’s call to stand-up-straight responsibility and his “appeal” underestimates the recasting done and I dare say damage done to any intellectual argument for Faith as a Grace by Peterson within the specific “high” yet not fully philosophically inclusive parameters Peterson sets (though Bishop Barron offers a disclaimer regarding evangelization), yes, Peterson, the Jungian, Persecuted-in-Canada Sage, Sophist-But-Of-The-Counter-Puncher-Variety Jordan Peterson. To be sure, Peterson has found a void in our father-devalued society…and father-denatured and yes our frequently perverted, corrupt episcopacy has provided additional abundant void. But herein lies the rub: what can meaningfully constitute a “higher” approach for those raised on “comic books” with regards to Faith and Philosophy (as Bishop Barron rightly states in that interview). Does Peterson or some really match that need for a “higher” or simply provide content for an immediate need for an overheard sense of “philosophy?” We forget that that the Socratic elenchus was intended for those who were PREPARED by years and years…and minus any even basic grounding…we’re blabbing about Nietzsche and Jung. No wonder he’s so popular!

    Perhaps a more Augustinian emphasis on Scripture, the Fall, need for Salvation, the questions of freedom and “sin” may actually provide more fertile and yes philosophical existential ground after all..especially insofar as they involve Love and modes of Love…Platonic considerations of Eros (Symposium) and considerations of Beauty (yes mentioned by Bishop Barron)…with some of the results on Graceless Secularism and Graceless Christianity already in. Perhaps what is NOT needed is the Summa Contra Gentiles 2019 Edition but something more akin to the less systematic Confessions and The City of God.

    What is not doubtful for me? It does depend on Grace.

    Do we underestimate the effects of original sin on not only will but intellect?

  8. As a former Agnostic I can say the first thing the Church can do is to stand for it’s principles. In a constantly changing and morally relativistic world, a belief in certain absolute truths and values is needed, and that is what drew me to the Catholic Church. The Church needs to return to tradition and an emphasis on sound doctrine as we had under the previous two Popes instead of trying to change for the sole purpose of pleasing the world (which changes have neither won any converts or done anything to please the world).

  9. Shadowfax makes an excellent point. Catholicism has always had its problems, as does any human institution, but its durability and consistent theology have evidenced its divinity. Unfortunately, beginning with Vatican II, it lost much of its outward universal character (the loss of the Tridentine Mass, especially in Latin, is a foremost exemplar) and demanded less and less of its members.

    Unfortunately, too, the papacy of Francis has done nothing to enhance the Church’s doctrinal or intellectual standing. It has, in fact, led to doubt and confusion amongst the orthodox. Young people are no exception to the dictum that if you do not demand much, you will not get much. The Church has a long, commendable intellectual, theological history, but no one today seems to value it, and we increasingly honor its teachings in the breach.

  10. The path the church is walking down called “Social Justice”is a dead end or worse
    yet.Evil.Also the men I encounter at various meetings I attend always for some reason mention they were raised Catholic,Altarboy’s,etc,etc.They use the excuse of the Church Parish parking lot after Mass,and “Bulldogging,Speeding,Rage of Parishioners”as they scramble to escape staying a couple minutes longer”Add to that the overblown myth of the Catholic Nun Teacher and her ruler? These men on average are intelligent.Yet mention your Catholic faith and the salvation,grace
    and forgiveness it can provide,and they go into angry orbit.

  11. One thing I see at my parish is a lack of “joy.” I had not thought about this, but our new pastor brought up the fact that we as Christians ought to be joyful. Personally, I see broken-ness, fatigue, gloom. After Mass for coffee, I find I must avoid (for my own mental health) the “angry trad” table as they discuss the latest Pope Francis’, hierarchy’s or society’s scandal.
    .

  12. The Church has utterly failed to take advantage of the fact that the discoveries of modern science have rendered atheism irrational:

    The natural Universe had a beginning. Things don’t begin to exist without a cause. The Universe’s cause couldn’t have been natural because the natural is what began to exist. Time, space, matter and energy must have been brought into being by a supernatural cause.

    The odds of the Big Bang mindlessly and accidentally producing a universe capable of supporting life were such that that happening was virtually impossible. See Roger Penrose’s The Road to Reality: A Complete Guide to the Laws of the Universe. It is more likely that the laws of physics will suddenly no longer apply to nature than it is that the Universe’s ability to support life was just luck, which is to say that, except for those who have all their possessions tied down just in case gravity stops working, it has become simply irrational to just assume that the Universe and the life within it are mindless accidents.

    An environment capable of supporting life doesn’t mean life is inevitable, just as the existence of a computer doesn’t make it inevitable that functionally complex software applications will reside in it. Applications like Microsoft Word don’t come about mindlessly and accidentally. It would be irrational to not only claim that a computer came about accidentally, but, in addition to that, claim that Microsoft Word evolved on that computer mindlessly and accidentally, too. And it is profoundly irrational to assume that the Universe supporting life was an accident – and also that life, an “application” that is infinitely more functionally complex than Microsoft Word, came about mindlessly and accidentally, too.

  13. The most serious question is when are the people running the institutional Church going to convert back to the true Catholic faith? I certainly would not want the “nones” to become members of a church where its members have abandoned Catholicism and replaced it with a Modernist/Humanistic/Protestant/Jewish/Liberal conglomeration of false theology, false philosophies, and false teachings about Christ.

  14. The other thing the Church needs to address besides the fact that contemporary atheism has become intellectually unsustainable (see my other post), is the reasonableness of the proposition that Jesus Christ is the incarnation of the God Who necessarily launched the Universe:

    No other great moral teacher was foretold repeatedly throughout the centuries before his arrival.

    The Hebrew Scriptures were already ancient when Jesus appeared on the scene. The more one studies the Old Testament, the more evident it becomes that Christ thoroughly fulfilled its prophecies and that His life was prefigured in its many types, so much so that Augustine would exclaim that the New Testament was hidden in the Old, and the Old was revealed by the New.

    It is as though the authors of the Hebrew Scriptures were inspired by a Mind that existed outside of time, for Whom past, present and future are all seen with equal clarity – a Mind like the one Who brought time, space, matter and energy into being in such a way that life could be supported, and designed life (see my other post).

    We can’t know for sure what will happen in the next five minutes, much less what will happen centuries in the future. There simply isn’t any natural explanation for the astounding phenomenon that the Old and New Testaments represent. (The Church needs to focus on the Scriptures so Catholics will appreciate how miraculous they are – and rid itself of faithless modern Scripture scholarship.)

    In light of the above, the miraculously foretold Christ must have been Who He claimed to be: God.

  15. And one last post. What one proclaims to be true must be acted upon if one wants to remain credible.

    The Catholic Church proclaims that each and every human being is precious to God, Whose love for each and every child of His is like the love of a good father for his children. Jesus taught us to pray “Our Father …”

    God has already demonstrated His love for us. He did so two millennia before we arrived in this world. He loved you mightily, passionately and heroically unto a long, excruciatingly painful, humiliating death on a cross — when you were yet unborn. There is no nine-month gap in God’s eternal love for you. He didn’t stop loving you when you were conceived and then resume loving you after you were born.

    Each and every one of the two-billion “legal” abortions that have taken place worldwide in the last half century brutally murdered a child precious to God, Who, knowing what He intended and what would have been, saw the cute two-year-old, and the ornery yet precious six-year-old, and the young adult destroyed. If we consider the untimely death of our children a catastrophe, so does “Our Father” in Heaven consider the untimely death of His children a catastrophe. We can only speculate at what would have been had our child lived. God sees exactly what was lost and how the ramifications of each of these murders will reverberate down through the centuries until the end of time.

    The Church cannot credibly proclaim the good news of the love of God for us if it doesn’t respond to the mass murder of God’s children in a manner commensurate with its urgency. Its complacency destroys its credibility. It signals the Church’s basic approval of Caesar’s claiming for himself authority over innocent human life that belongs to God alone. That is idolatry, which destroys Christianity.

    No wonder young people are leaving the Church in droves. Try leading them in loving Christ in the least of His brethren the way Christ loved them – when they were yet unborn. Young people want a challenge. Saving Christianity, humanity and civilization itself through the power of the Holy Spirit (which is the only way to vanquish the prince of this world) is a project young people will take up wholeheartedly.

    Until the Church has resolutely repented of its idolatry, and begins to boldly proclaim the necessity of that project, and our duty to engage in it, people young and old will leave the Church in search of something credible.

  16. According to my children the reason their friends and their families are leaving the church is due to a perceived lack of relevance of religion in their everyday lives. In a world of unprecedented wealth and convenience, over emphasis on STEM, and unlimited electronic “Circus”, as my 17 year old son’s recently told him, “What’s the point of religion in general outside of cultural observances and extended family gatherings?” But it’s not the kids, it’s their PARENTS who teach them to believe this way. I feel like St. Augustine had it right when he said that most people only clung to the superstitious nature of religion out of fear of the future – and if the future as Stephen Pinker recently predicted is only bound to get better and better due to the power of Mankind alone, why not believe that there is no God but only the creativity of the human mind? In my only family I teach my kids very little Dogma and put more emphasis on Jesus Christ as the son of God and of our true citizenship in Heaven through adherence to the ten commandments and the teachings of Jesus Christ. I think some of there ‘None’ friends will come back when they see that true meaning in this world is to be with Jesus in the next. What is puzzling about so many people I know is that I have no idea why so many secular, militantly gay, and even self-professed atheists believe they are going to heaven as a given due to an all loving God – I tell them I don’t think Heaven will be giving out trophies for participation.

  17. The good Bishop(s) is asking the wrong questions AND far too many of them – and you -mare asking far too often for money. STOP IT, you’re beginning to sound like TV evangelists. We, the laity, are handcuffed by decisions made by those “in charge”.

    Twenty-five years ago, I was discerning becoming an ordained deacon in the Catholic Church. I felt called – by the Spirit – to do this. I was offering myself fully in God’s service. I was completely committed. After 4 months of discernment and going through a battery of tests and attending meetings I was all set to move forward with nearly 5 years of training. Two months passed when the letter arrived. I prayed that God’s will would be done relative to my acceptance or denial. The letter referenced the latter. Though I was a bit hurt by it, I accepted it as God’s will.

    As I’ve looked back on it, God certainly had His hand on me. Having to blindly follow the dictates of bishops and priests who’ve only had their desires satisfied would have driven me from the Church and possibly from God Himself. I have found the majority of men who have been ordained deacons to have had their manhood neutered by ‘playing’ a serf role in the Church. This is quite different than the role I thought deacons were supposed to have fulfilled. Far too many of the deacons these days seem to be “yes” men and have little humility.

    I want to serve God – I want to bring men and women TO Him; not by coercion but by simple love, thoughtful knowledge, discerning prayer, and hope. If it’s just one on one, so be it. I’m saddened that men like me – and I believe there are many – are shunned by the powers within the Church. We’ll need to do it on our own.

  18. The “Nones” are not going back. The reasons can be discussed, parsed, cursed, categorized, … it will not matter.

    And I suspect there are a fair number of “Nones” age 55+. It is not only the relatively young in that demographic.

  19. Do the good bishop(s) ask too many and the wrong questions? Do the spiritual nomads simply wake up one morning to discover that the verticality and interiority of the same ol’ religion are simply SUPERFLUOUS?

    Why not just paddle with the flow of events, freed from this extra brick in our backpack? C. S. Lewis, in his Screwtape Letters, has something to say about this:

    “But the greatest triumph of all is to elevate this horror of the Same Old Thing into a philosophy so that nonsense in the intellect may reinforce corruption in the will. It is here that the general Evolutionary or Historical character of modern European thought [and now globalist] comes in so useful. The Enemy [God] loves platitudes. Of a proposed course of action He wants men, so far as I can see, to ask very simple questions; is it righteous? is it prudent? is it possible? Now if we can keep men asking ‘Is it in accordance with the general movement or our time? Is it progressive or reactionary? Is it the way that History is going?’ they will neglect the relevant questions” (The Screwtape Letters, 1953).

    If prior to re-evangelization is some remedial DEPROGRAMMING, then of possible interest to some might be my book, reviewed last year by Catholic World Report: http://www.catholicworldreport.com/2018/03/29/a-generation-abandoned-why-whatever-is-not-enough/

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