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What Pope Francis Knows

A faithful Catholic reader says that most ordinary Catholics don't care about fidelity to Church teaching
Giulio Napolitano/Shutterstock
Giulio Napolitano/Shutterstock

Reader JB commented on the Pope Francis marriage-and-communion thread:

Gallup Poll on U.S. Catholics: 86 percent say contraception “morally acceptable”…sex outside marriage ok for 72 percent of Catholics and 70 percent gay and lesbian relationships are morally fine. Guessing among younger faithful, maybe higher numbers.
The Catholic Church is not forming it’s followers to live its challenging and radically countercultural teachings on sexuality and family life.
Once you get outside of the tiny bubble of those that either care about or have some vested interest in these things, you find that Church teaching is completely irrelevant to the lives of most of your family and friends.
I am a faithful practicing Catholic. Most of my Catholic friends and family know nothing about this controversy; they could not care less. A number of them are in their second marriages and would never think to bother with an annulment. If they do attend mass, they receive communion like most everyone else. No one goes to confession. These are good people, not willfully committing sin — but according to official Church teaching, they are committing a serious sin against the sacrament of Eucharist.
There is such a growing chasm between peoples everyday lives and Catholic teaching on these matters. Their children often drift away from regular church attendance…but so do those who are raised in solid Catholic families who are faithful to the Church’s teachings.
We also cannot underestimate something that I think operates at an even deeper level than we realize – the clergy scandals.
The cover-up by the Bishops struck at the heart of the moral and spiritual authority of the Church in the West. There is now this kind of uncomfortable silence…and anger: “Don’t you even try to challenge us on the moral issues that we are dealing with in our complicated private lives, with the way you dealt with your own dirty laundry.” This is something I see with friends and family. It’s there, just under the surface and if you were to gently challenge them on some of these moral issues, it goes there quickly. I have heard things like this:
“Who are they (priests/bishops) to tell me how many kids I should have, how to deal with my daughter’s unplanned pregnancy, or if an adult can have a loving relationship with another adult of the same sex? These men who protected and sheltered abusers? Just say mass, marry my kids and bury our dead. Stay out of our private lives.”
Isn’t this really the current state of things? Am I being too dark here? I am not trying to be negative or hopeless. But don’t you have to deal with reality if you are going to find the right response/solutions?
These internal conflicts within the Church are important obviously. But are they now (in the West anyway) completely irrelevant to the masses of practicing and nominal Catholics?

Well, one answer to this is that when St. Athanasius fought the Arian heresy, most of the world was Arian, but the fight was critically important to have. These theological fights aren’t just for Christians of the present day, but for generations yet to come. Two hundred years from now, Cardinal Burke and his cohorts may be seen as footnotes to Catholic history, or they may be seen as the Athanasiuses of their time.

Still, the Catholic commenter makes some powerful points. I’d like to hear what you readers have to say about them.



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