Wednesday, 9 January 2008

Talking about the Church

Yesterday I was at a talk by Donald Cozzens. The title of the talk was "Faith that Dares to Speak - Love that Dares to Question". Fr. Cozzens has written a few books under which "Sacred silence" and "The changing face of the priesthood".

I don't want to give a summary of the talk, as I am sure there are a lot of people who can do a much better job than I can, but want to make an observation. Part of the lecture was about the futile system on which the Church operate, and in the way I perceived it, about the inadequacy of this system. That on itself is something that one can agree with or not, but I find sometimes that if these topics are brought up that we get a bit sensitive about words.
Often terms as 'vassals' and 'laity' are brought up, and it is pointed out that these refer to children, and uneducated/unlettered people. The fact that it was that way for centuries upon centuries, does that mean now that we have a much better educated western world that the church doesn't work because we use those words?

I understand that part of the scandals in the church are because of the system the church operates on. If there is one person responsible for many and makes a decision, and maybe a wrong decision, than it is very easy to point this out. However, does that mean that the system doesn't work? Because society has become more educated, does it mean that we have the change the whole church to suit it? Focusing then on the words used feels a bit like putting petrol on a fire, and isn't really needed, as it is common sense that 'laity' in the modern world doesn't mean uneducated. A good portion of the talk was based on this, and although I am sure there is some truth in the problems with positions of power, as we are all human, I am convince it is not the cause of a falling attendance at mass and less vocations to the priesthood.

In my opinion, I think that we shouldn't focus to much of our energy on giving out about the Church hierarchy, but should look on ways to actually proclaim the gospel to people. Changing the structure of the Church is not going to bring people back or convert them. It might make people who don't have any power now, and might have them maybe more happy, but the church is not a secular organisation!

It seems to me in my limited amount of time I am a Catholic that a lot of people are concerned about the state of the church, and often it is mentioned that young people are falling away and stop practicing their faith.

If this is the case, would it not be much better to focus on making our faith real, by living the gospel. By being an example to them, through the reverent celebration of the sacraments, and by the way we life our lives. Would it not be more beneficial to start (youth) prayer meeting to bring people with faith together, and to let them experience what it is to be a community, to share a common belief. Youth 2000 in Ireland is a good example of the need there is among the young!
Should we not focus our energy on proclaiming the gospel, maybe by means of organisations as the Legion of Mary. Young and old giving their spare time to reach out to other through for example house visitation and hostels.

I can agree that there is a things that have to be done inside the church, but instead of focusing our energy on trying to get rid of the hierarchy, could we not first start to build up the body of Christ by living and proclaiming the gospel? We need saints to be examples, not meetings to discuss our feeling about unfairness...

1 comment:

Felix Randal said...

Great post - I agree entirely!

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