Monday, January 05, 2009

Archdiocesan Planning: The Real Problem

The Archdiocese of Milwaukee has all sorts of planning going on--mostly concerned with how to manage the large decrease in native-born (USA) Catholics who have remained in the Church.

Yes, I said "decrease." This is an analysis of the Pew Study released last year, written by Fr. Jos. Sirba (excerpted).

...Massive losses among native-born Catholics have not only been significant but staggering, so much so that those who conducted the survey wrote in their analysis, “Catholicism has lost more people to other religions or to no religion at all than any other single religious group.” It should be noted that this statement is true both in terms of absolute numbers as well as in terms of percentage of the U.S. population. However, it is not true when figured as a percentage of the Catholic population alone. Figured that way, Catholic losses as a percentage of the Catholic population were 24 percent, behind only Methodists, whose losses stood at 25 percent. By way of comparison, Presbyterian losses were at 21 percent, Baptists were 18 percent, and Lutherans and Episcopalians were each 16 percent. On the other hand, nondenominational Protestants grew a whopping 200 percent, the percentage of unaffiliated grew 120 percent and Pentecostals grew 12 percent.

10.1 percent of the adult population in the United States now consists of people who have left the Catholic Church for another religion or for no religion. To put it another way, one out of every ten people in the United States (or 22,725,000) is an ex-Catholic. It should be noted here that these are not non-practicing Catholics who, when asked about their religion, would identify themselves as Catholic. Rather, these are individuals who were baptized and raised Catholic but who no longer identify themselves as Catholic.

The author suggests that the root of the problem is what we mentioned below.

Saint Paul said, “If the bugle gives an indistinct sound, who will get ready for battle?” (1Cor. 14:8) Clearly, for those Catholics of the baby-boom generation, uncertain notes were the only ones being played...our problem has been dissent tolerated by weak leaders, which in turn has led to confusion as to what we as Catholics believe and how we should live.

...the survey results reveal that the faith is weakest among the young. We must act immediately to reverse this trend before we loose the better part of yet another generation. Consequently, our parish religious education programs must be reformed

...We should reconsider what role Catholic schools should play in the twenty-first century and where we can get the greatest bang for our buck. Perhaps parish funds could be better spent on well-designed religious education programs or by supporting online schools that don’t require expensive infrastructure

As the author admits, the Church will never retain all its baptized members. Never. But the Church could do a bit more, to say the least.

Maybe this will be plugged into the Plan?

In fairness, "nondenominational Christian" churches have grown partly because of the Church's teachings on matters.....ahhhhh......beneath the belt-line. IOW, a lot of them disagree about the nature and purpose of sex, and/or prefer a new wife/husband to the older model without all that moral fuss.

The first group has bought the teachings of Woodstock, more or less. The second? Who knows?

By complete coincidence, this appears in another blogspot today:

...a few years back, as the 'Curly Red-haired Girl' known as my wife, with the help of the Blessed Mother, dragged me closer and closer to a real relationship with Christ and His Church, she got a gift that sealed the deal. We were blessed with a priest that was put in our lives that did more to change me than he would ever probably realize. I was privileged to see a truly brave man, unflinchingly, yet charitably speak on such matters as abortion, gay marriage, contraception and premarital sex, to a liberal Catholic audience that was in no way ready to hear his message. He got a hard time for some of his homilies. The Cassock he wore made some role their eyes as it did not resemble the 'Mister Rogers' look they'd grown more accustomed to.

But anyone with a real set of eyes saw something that I view as what is hopefully the new norm of the Catholic Church. Courage.

It was this type of priest that provided the final tug back into the Church that my sorry behind needed so badly. God knew what I needed to get me fully on board with my faith. While people like cops and firemen and Marines will always be "Top Shelf" in my order of manly respect, there is now a mantle placed above this shelf. It is a mantle set aside for those with the courage to answer Gods calling to be a priest. Priests that are true to the Magisterium and to Gods teachings.

Corragio!! In season, out of season...


Mike said...

With regard to Fr. Sirba's dreams of "well designed religious education programs," I think the following from the Diocese of Tulsa will provide him with a much needed reality check.

I am in my 5th year as a junior high religious ed catechist and I can assure Fr. Sirba that, no matter how much he cares to tweak it, religious ed will always be a poor second to a well-run, full-time Catholic school.

"CCD programs will never be enough
It must be conceded that this is a task beyond even the finest parish religious education programs. No Sunday school program, no matter how complete the content of its textbooks, how deep the commitment of its volunteers or joyful they are in their service, is capable of building the kind of social community which is founded in this kind of culture and which is capable of revealing in itself the interior life and mission of the Church.

"They cannot do this because they will always be secondary to the primary education of their students, which is secular and relativistic.

"CCD classes add an additional class to the secular curriculum, but this one class, this one hour a week, is not capable of revealing the dangerous deficiencies of secular assumptions, because by adding one class in religious studies on Sunday or on Wednesdays, we actually reinforce the secular presumption that religion has both its value and place, but separate and apart from the things of “the real world.” We accept implicitly the world’s judgment that the things of God are one of its many categories of inquiry and God Himself just one “thing” among all the rest to be studied.

"I think it is imperative that we acknowledge and accept that our first and foremost effort in religious education must be to revitalize our Catholic schools and do whatever is necessary to make certain that every family in the Diocese has the right to this kind of religious education for their children."

The entire article is here.

Dave said...

I completely agree that a Catholic school is the ideal. However, we must deal with actual circumstances. In this day and age, private education is financially out of the reach of most middle-class parents, and there is no chance of expanding the choice program while Doyle is in office...