Sunday, March 03, 2013
Giving the Faith Back
I was quite struck by Sandro Magisters reference to a change in the "power bases" of the Conclave to elect a successor to Benedict XVI.
Cleansing the Church of "filth" must be one of the priorities of the next Pope, as must be sorting out the Curia, though actually having an efficient Curia might well result in more powerful Rome and more centralisation, but the priority of any Pope must be furthering belief itself, making the Church evangelical. "Filth" exists and is tolerated because we have forgotten the Commandments and the call to Repentance. The Curia is corrupt and inefficient, mainly inefficient I suspect, because it tends to exist for itself rather than to serve the Church's mission.
John Paul II in many ways strengthened the role of Bishops and laid more work on Episcopal Conferences, Benedict with Summorum Pontificum and the Year for Priests, and his Liturgical theology emphasis on the Mass was very much about priests.
I hope the next Pope is able to bring about a sense of Mission, that ordinary Catholics are somehow taught that they are sent out to proclaim Salvation. Jesus did not come to set up a Church so that it might serve itself, he established his Church to proclaim Salvation to the ends of the Earth.
Since Vatican II the faith has been taken out of the hands of the ordinary faithful. An urgent priority must be giving it back to men and women in the pew. The Catechism of the Catholic Church is a wonderful tool for bishops and priests, in many ways it has trandformed Seminary formation but as far as the man and woman in the pew is concerned it is a closed book. The faith of so many clergy, of so many "professional Catholics" and "thinking Catholics" is far removed from the faith of their grandparents and their forefathers, it is not better informed, it is a different faith, in some cases it is not faith at all but doubt, which is the enemy of faith. It does not recognise Jesus as being necessary for Salvation, it doesn't recognise the veracity of Revelation, nor the reality of the Sacraments nor the Sacredness of the necessity of Communion with the Church. It does not recognise even that which is right or wrong, in many ways the Church itself is the great font of "Relativism", and indeed the ills of the Church spring from Relativism within it.
The best catechised children I ever prepared for First Communion received their formation from their illiterate grandmother, they were from an Irish traveller family. Grandmother had done presumably what had her family had done for a thousand years and teach the faith, which was the basis of her life, sitting around her hearth.
The Spirit of Vatican II, the emphasis on personal opinion, the change in devotional and liturgical practises has robbed the ordinary faithful of the faith, placing it the hands of specialists. I pray the the next Pope will find a way of returning it.
Perhaps the best way might be to ensure the diocese of Rome is itself the best formed, catechised and evangelised in the world. Now if all those Cardinals, Bishops and Monsignors actually started catechising and evangelising the children and men and women of the city and the people of the world who come to visit the Eternal City, it might help to prioritise things for them and act as model for the rest of the Church.
I really do believe that a priority must be producing simple catechetical material that communicates the essence of the faith, for children and those preparing for the sacraments, models that can be used throughout the Church. Using the best minds in the Church to do that would indeed be pleasing to the Lord, and an example to us all, as would the example of them praying in Roman churches
Posted by Fr Ray Blake