James C. e-mails:
Reader Elizabeth on the blog made a comment that struck me:
I hear from friends that they think Francis will reverse church teaching about abortion and contraception – people who have no understanding or curiosity of how the church works. (Mine is limited, but enough to understand that that is not a power the pope holds.) For some reason, they become giddy about the pronouncements of a man in whose authority they do not believe, whose faith they think is an outdated relic, and whose organization has lost moral and political influence here, not to mention membership, daily. Since most nominal RCC’s ignore church teaching about sex in all aspects, why do they care at all, and are they flocking back to mass?
No. They aren’t. I’ve been thinking about this lately during my time in Québec. Most place-names here are Catholic. I’m currently in St-Joseph-de-Beauce. Yesterday I was in Ste-Hélène-de-Bagot. The day before, St-Liboire. The day before, St-Hyacinthe. And so on. It’s endless!
Each of these towns, and countless others across Québec, are dominated by a great stone church. You can’t avoid them. Yet people here pass by these great hollow edifices with nary a thought. They’re like the old player pianos in old Boston apartments: abandoned yet too big to remove.
The older generations abandoned them but don’t miss them. The night has long since set, but for them it is a new dawn of carefree worldliness. A dawn of ‘authenticity’ instead of rote obedience to outmoded dogmas and a stifling culture. They’ve thrown off the old faith with no regrets and no apologies. The church makes a nice decoration in the center of their pretty little towns. That’s all. For many towns, if the church is still open, a priest will come to say mass once a month, if that.
The younger generation? It’s out of mind. They have no memory of a time when people flocked to these churches. They have no idea what those people believed and why. It’s ancient history for them, shrouded in the fog of a time long past.
Not that the young don’t have beliefs of their own. They believe in individualism and globalism, and all that entails: ‘equality’, ‘diversity’, ‘tolerance’, ‘nonjudgmentalism’, ‘inclusion’, ‘solidarity’, being a ‘global citizen’, the freedom to create your own identity and your own truth.
Their manifesto would look quite similar to that of today’s painfully ‘relevant’ MTD churchman . No doubt they get ‘giddy’ (in Elizabeth’s words) at these prelates’ globalist and indifferentist mantras.
But would that giddiness prompt them to go to church on Sunday? To get married in the church (or get married at all?)? Baptize their children (if they ever have any?)? Live a Christian life? Look to the church to bury their loved ones (and themselves) and plead for safe passage into the afterlife?
No. No. It wouldn’t, it doesn’t, and it won’t.
It’s difficult to know know how to reach these young post-moderns today. What is the way? I do know that so many bishops’ desperate discarding of the salt of the Gospel to receive a smattering of disinterested giddiness isn’t it.