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Debate: Why do Catholics lapse?

Is it primarily the fault of the Church or of the Catholics who have left it?

By on Thursday, 17 November 2011

An image from the bishops' conference Come Home for Christmas campaign

An image from the bishops' conference Come Home for Christmas campaign

This week Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York spoke to his fellow bishops about the “chilling” rates of lapsation among US Catholics. He said:

Fewer and fewer of our beloved people – to say nothing about those outside the household of the faith – are convinced that Jesus and His Church are one.

So they drift from her, get mad at the Church, grow lax, join another or just give it all up. If this does not cause us pastors to shudder, I do not know what will.

The topic is on our own bishops’ radar, too. Last weekend they launched a national campaign to reach out to Catholics who have lapsed.

One bishop has suggested that people are lapsing because they are simply too busy to go to Mass.

Bishop Kieran Conry of Arundel and Brighton was indirectly quoted by the Guardian as saying the cause was

… more likely to do with laziness and children’s extra-curricular commitments than controversies surrounding the pope or clerical sexual abuse scandals.

But is the Church itself, or at least its members, not to blame? Abuse scandals, poor communication of the Church’s teaching, bad preaching, the failure to defend the Church in the media – surely these are all big factors in pushing people away?

On the other hand, as Archbishop Dolan said, the sinfulness of Church members is never a “reason to dismiss the Church or her eternal truths”.

And in many situations lapsing from the faith may just be the easy option.

So, why do Catholics lapse? And is it the fault of the Church or the Catholics who have left it?

  • Inquisator

    ‘And so many Catholics hardly ever go to confession, why? Because they don’t understand why we need to go to confession. This again comes from a lack of proper cathechesis.’
    Perhaps when the Church stops treating the Sacrament of Reconciliation like a devotion, then we might perhaps more appropriately communicate the wonderful nature of this forgiving, reconciling, grace-filling sacrament.

  • EditorCT

    These chestnuts (Church persecuted Galileo, Church forces women to have large families, Church causes AIDS…) are really just TOO predictable.

    Did you know that the Church FUNDED Galileo?

    If I were you, chum, I’d jump right off that particular bandwagon.  Just wait a week or two and you’ll be able to join the “Church is to blame for climage change” bandwagon. Much more modern.  Will take off in a jiffy, you’ll see, Sugar Plum.

  • Oconnordamien

    I wish I’d seen this article earlier.

    What is a lapsed catholic?

    One who doesn’t attend mass? 
    One who does not do the most important of things, confession?
    One who is unaware of the Nuncio’s last declaration?
    One who lives in the modern world and uses it’s benefits?

    The list would go on and on.

    What is a lapsed catholic?

  • Teutonic Knight

    The faith is not taught to Catholics, in the way I understand it was before Vatican II (I am 33 and was lapsed myself between the ages of 16 and 29).

    I do not mean Bible study, but rather explaining Catholic thinking – i.e explaining the truth – on the kinds of social matters which the Church is often criticised over, many of which are very relevant to young people.  

    Many young Catholics turn their back over things like Homosexuality & Women priests – but sadly they are entirely ignorant of why Catholicism takes the stand it does.  The only information they have available to them on these subjects are the cries of bigtory from the secular press.  This gives them a view of the Church as antiquated or out of touch.

    The Church, (in the UK at least), offers nothing as regards engaging people intellectually on these topics.  Most British Catholics today are introduced to various Catholic opinions via negative secular headlines.  Outwith the Nativity story and the sacraments, many Catholics know little or nothing about Catholicism. 

    I bet most Catholics kids would think of Leviticus, rather than Natural Law (ie biological science), if asked why Catholicism takes the stance it does on homosexuality.  This ignorance makes it very difficult for them to reconcile such a stance with the teachings of Christ.  And it also makes the faith very hard to defend or rationalise, when faced with (oft convincing) alternative secular arguments. 

    I’ve learned far more about my faith from reading websites constructed by lay-Catholics and reading a copy of YouCat, than I ever did from any Catholic school, adherent or Church.  Which is a disgrace really.  While self-study is to be recommended – and of course parents are to play a part in teaching faith – we really should be explaining officially to people why (e.g.) homosexuality is a deviation, or why only men can be priests.  I had to find these things out for myself – but most people do not go to the effort.

    Perhaps most damagingly, the Church often fails to defend itself effectively or quickly (if at all), in the face of secular criticism.  HIV/Condoms in Africa is a great example of this.  Many people I meet – including lapsed Catholics – have a very firm view that Catholic teaching has caused, or at least exacerbated, the HIV crisis in Africa.  It makes perfect sense to them, given the constant promotion of the mythical “safe sex” (i.e sex without consequences) which young people are bombarded with.

    The view is often propagated by various enemies of the Church – secular liberal press, gay activists, stand up “comedians” etc. This propagation is especially active in youth culture.  All this goes unchallenged by the Church, and it is accordingly viewed as cruel and reckless.

    In reality, figures show that, overwhelmingly, the worst hit Africa areas are non-Catholic.  And experts – eg Dr Edward C Green (of Harvard)  – frequently agree with Catholic opinion on the matter, especially how to resolve it and what is really responsible.  But none of this flagged up by the Church.  As a result, the public are more likely to hear what Stephen Fry or Stewart Lee think of African HIV, (likely via BBC/Guardian), than what Dr Green and his peers thinks.

    So really I think communication and understanding has been the main issue, particularly when it comes to presenting opinions and also publicly defending them.

    I think the Church knows this all this, and the recently released YouCat (mentioned above) is perhaps a step towards addressing this, but we need more and quickly.  Someone who already thinks the church is ‘homophobic’ (whatever that means) and sexist, is hardly likely to shell out £9.99 for a copy of YouCat.

    In contrast to myself aged between 16 and 29, I now regard Catholic opinions on contemporary matters as relevant, scientific, well considered and rational – but only because I go to the bother of literally dredging the internet for understandable, credible information in plain english.  (The Vatican website is in much more intellectual, ecclesiastical and exhaustive language than the average Joe cares for.  It has to be that way, but there should be a plainer alternative to improve accessibility).

  • Brid

    Like you, bursting with self righteous indignation, not a chance duckie

  • Chris

    I have lapsed, in fact I’ve rejected church teaching and belief in a god completely, due my intellectual maturing. I’m in my mid-teens, and for most of my early life, I accepted church teaching without question. God was the most wonderful person to me, always there for me, always willing to listen. It felt like, if I had a problem, he’d be there to comfort me, even if no-one else could.

    Most of my family are practising Catholics, and so I went to mass every Sunday, or when I was younger, almost every day. My first real realisation that something wasn’t quite right with the Catholic Church, and consequentially, my belief in God, occurred when I was asked to write an essay, aged about 14, on ‘Does God Exist?’ My conclusion was that he did, but that essay sowed seeds of doubt in my mind.

    I’d been learning about debating, and one necessary component of any speech is to ensure you have evidence behind your statements. When it came to God, I had to use speculation in order to ensure my speech still had a usable degree of integrity. From this point, my Catholic faith unravelled, with the sexual abuse scandal in the church delivering a further blow to my belief that the Catholic Church was a ‘good’ organisation. 

    Many people here have criticised ‘New Age Atheism’ and pointed the finger at so-called ‘militant atheists’ like Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens. While I agree whole-heartedly with them on most issues they speak of, when I fell out of faith, I had never listened or read to anything they had produced. This was a conscious decision on my own part. It also wasn’t anything to do with societal or peer pressures; most of my friends are Catholic, and there isn’t a single member of my family that I am aware of who isn’t a Christian, other than myself. 

    I probably know a lot more about Catholicism than some Catholics, and I do know ‘why’ the Catholic Church takes the stance they do on homosexuality, and on contraception, but knowing that the Church bases this on its own, twisted interpretation what they perceive as an all-governing ‘natural law’ is not of any consequence in changing my opinion that they are being unnecessarily cruel to individuals who are gay. In the developed world, where statistics exist, openly homosexual teens are 6 times more likely to commit suicide than any heterosexual counterpart. This is down almost entirely to ostracisation from their peers due to the lingering sentiments of homophobia instilled in many people due to all the Christian tradition, of which the Catholic Church is the largest member, and consequentially, the largest offender.

    While now I would call myself an atheist, even if I did believe in God, I would not return to the Church. I could not condone an organisation that is so unnecessarily cruel. It is no surprise that our world is growing more liberal, and that application for the priesthood are down. The world is waking up, while the Catholic Church is intent to hold on to its dream, and civilised society’s nightmare…

  • Torkay
  • Jason Theobald13

    As far as the question of transubstantiation, I was not saying that the priest need not understand or want the result of transubstantiation; he must not, however, believe fully in what is happening, rather he must simply desire to do what the Church does (this is what Trent said, which was that he must desire what the Church desires). It seems to be that even if the priest does not fully believe, by saying the mass in line with the Church’s mass he is declaring an intention to do what the Church does. 

    As far as the statement you are attempting to make, or so it seems, that the Holy Spirit was not the inspiration behind the Second Vatican Council I find that very difficult to stomach. In his introduction to the Council, John XXIII explained that he saw in the modern world a situation where the Church was facing a great animosity, and in the world this was something that needed to be addressed namely the way to teach Catholic doctrine in the modern world. 

    The fruits of the changes that have come upon the Church have been seen in a renewal which is helping the Church to combat modern times and thoughts (see World Youth Days). The Holy Spirit did in fact inspire the vernacular because it is the language of the people which the Church has spoken since the beginning. Christ spoke the language of the people He encountered, nothing else. The New Testament was written in the language of the people. The Liturgy adopted Latin when it became the language of the people, hoping to keep the now broken up Roman empire united under the bond of this common language and Liturgy. Today, the Church is still united under the Liturgy and under the common head of our Pope and the magisterium, and it is more united in that the people are able to participate fully in the mass. In the Early Church, mass was a group of believers sitting around a table; they understood Christ’s presence in the bread and wine, but also His presence in those present-we have returned to an understanding of the Body of Christ being the Church, without forfeiting the understanding of the great mystery which is the Eucharist and Transubstantiation. 

    I understand that you want to promote a unity to the Church, as do I, and this is something we should pray for everyday. Mass which is understood by the people is not, however, a problem, but rather a part of the solution.

  • Jason Theobald13

    SSPX, with its lack of canonical status, practices in schism and therefore is not a legitimate excercise of ministry within the Catholic Church. Within this schism, then, what is happening is not a movement towards Christ and unity within His Church, but a movement towards division and therefore away from God. By denying the legitimacy of the magisterium today and the legitimacy of Vatican II, people are denying the legitimacy of the Church and all previous ecumenical councils, leaving the Church with nothing to stand on. A house divided cannot stand, a division within the Church is a terrible thing and following in this path is harmful to all. Please, for the sake of Jesus Christ and His Church, move towards reconciliation with the Pope and the magisterium. 

  • Bob Hayes

    ‘I’d been learning about debating, and one necessary component of any speech is to ensure you have evidence behind your statements.’

    While learning about debating, I hope you also learned about Sophism. Please do not be fooled into thinking that those who claim ‘evidence’ for their position actually have knowledge. Evidence does not necessarily amount to knowledge. Furthermore, in the world of debating – as I am sure you have already discovered, presentation often trumps knowledge.

  • Cjkeeffe

    of course without the catholic Church there would have been no bible, no Gospel, so the Church safeguardeed the bible and preaches the Gospel.

  • Torkay

    There is something about this post that sounds very fundamentalist Protestant. I would claim that what is lacking in the mainstream Church is obedient, humble, pious and devout souls – the best models of the Catholic Faith. But that is not surprising, since the modern Church has in effect become just another Protestant sect, without any central teaching or disciplinary authority, and with an infinite number of disputing opinions about what constitutes “truth,” and with a default liturgy that promotes pride, not humility.

  • Torkay

    The world is waking up, Chris? To what? The culture of death? The definition of humanity as “sexuality”? Disposable lives? The dictatorship of relativism? Moral, political, and economic anarchy? Global dictatorship? Endless war? A public square controlled by lies and liars?

    You, sir, have debated yourself into nothing more than darkness and confusion, and I can assure you that you do not understand the Church at all. The Church cannot be measured by worldly standards, ever – and I do not mean by that the corruption of its human members, which has been present since her very beginning.

    I recommend you find yourself a traditionalist priest and begin some extended discussions with him on the nature of life and the nature of the Church.

  • Torkay

    You have chosen your blogger name well, “Lefty,” because, like every leftist I’ve ever met, you have formed your opinions based on falsehoods. Falsehood #1 of your post: Jesus’ preaching was about civil rights. Falsehood #2: see my reply to Chris the debater/lapsed Catholic under the new posts about these “better, Christ-like lives” we are supposedly leading. Falsehood #3: you care more about people that previous generations (you care for people by advocating killing their babies? Are you serious?). Falsehood #4: the hierarchy of the Church is conservative Republican. What a hoot! How do you think Obama got elected? How is it that you are not aware that the USCCB is known as “the Democrat Party at prayer”? Falsehood #5: the Catholic Church is about power and control. Wrong – she is about the salvation of souls.

    If your decision to leave the Church was made at age 15 or 16, you might want to re-think that impetuous mistake now that you are in your golden years. That is, if you are willing to give up your politically-based, self-serving falsehoods and begin searching for the truth. The truth is the nourishment required by your soul.

  • Torkay

    “Charity has lost its way in the Catholic Church.”

    Utter rubbish. What is your definition of charity?

  • Torkay

    Speaking of anger, Father, I was not in the Church during the Vii Revolution (born Catholic, removed via divorce, raised Protestant, returned in 2000), so I can only ask this question in hindsight: where was all the clerical resistance to this entirely un-Catholic revolution? Why was it that only a few clergy opposed it? Abp. Lefebvre, the Abbe de Nantes, Father DePauw, Cardinals Ottaviani and Bacci (briefly) – why did thousands of clergy leave rather than oppose it? And why, of the ones who remained, was there either silence, or even welcoming of this regurgitation of the “Reformation”? It seems to me that the Church was infected with careerism even more so than with homosexuals.

  • Torkay

    American Guest – do your family’s souls a precious favor: get away from the Novus Ordo and its related abominations and get yourselves to the nearest SSPX chapel. There you will find the Church of your youth. You will also find a church full of young families and young children. Here is the directory of SSPX chapels in PA:

    If none of these are close, find a parish administered by the FSSP:

  • Anonymous

    Catholics lapse because there is no one praying for them, because the Novus Ordo Liturgy is insipid and uninspired, and because the culture is filled with distractions.  They lapse because they do not pray, and they do not see the necessity of prayer.   Do the Pastors of the Church want to bring back the flock?  Start teaching the Faith.  Reinstate the Latin Mass.  Do penance for past sins and for their flocks.  Stand for Christ, not political correctness.  We serve an awesome God, but would never know it by the namby pamby sermons, invented liturgies, cult of personality, lack of true teaching, permissive morality, and general surrender to the culture and the demonic in the Church today.  We are in the midst of a great falling away.  In the last 4 decades more than 100,000 priests and religious have left, 90% of married Catholics practice some form of contraception in violation natural law, 45% or more of young people cohabit before marriage, out of wedlock births among Catholics is similar to that of the general population, divorce is rampant, churches are filled with those who compromise, and in some nations less than 10$ of the baptized still attend weekly mass.  But it is a great time to be a Catholic because there are so many opportunities for good works.  The Church needs saints, so let’s get to work, people!  First, pray to be a saint, then work with all your heart to serve Christ.  If we do that, we will bring back the lost sheep to the fold.  Learn the Faith, then LIVE the Faith.

  • Jason Theobald13

    As for the question of transubstantiation, the Catechism says this:

    1128 This is the meaning of the Church’s affirmation that the sacraments act ex opere operato
    (literally: “by the very fact of the action’s being performed”), i.e.,
    by virtue of the saving work of Christ, accomplished once for all. It
    follows that “the sacrament is not wrought by the righteousness of
    either the celebrant or the recipient, but by the power of God.” From
    the moment that a sacrament is celebrated in accordance with the
    intention of the Church, the power of Christ and his Spirit acts in and
    through it, independently of the personal holiness of the minister.
    Nevertheless, the fruits of the sacraments also depend on the
    disposition of the one who receives them.

  • Dissenter

    “The priest MUST intend to do what the Church teaches. He might be a monumental sinner and still bring about Transubstantiation but if he does not believe in Transubstantiation/does not intend to confect the Eucharist, there is no consecration.”
    In that case, as we can never know the mind of the priest, we can never be certain that we have ever received the Eucharist, so there’s little point in going to Mass anymore.

  • EditorCT

    A tad judgmental, Kate, but I forgive you …

  • EditorCT

    It’s almost incredible to read anyone alleging that the SSPX is in schism after all the publicity to the contrary.

    As for your call to an undivided house – the SSPX haven’t changed a jot.  They preach and teach exactly what was preached and taught before Vatican II and they offer the same Mass that the nourished the saints and martyrs.

    Those causing the division need to repent – not those who are victims of the Vatican II rebellion.  Get a grip.

  • EditorCT

    Exactly.  I should have put division in inverted commas like so “division”  … who’s a silly girl then? (don’t answer that…)

  • EditorCT

    The high suicide rates among homosexuals cannot be laid at the door of other people allegedly “homophobic” – it’s a nonsense, in fact, especially these days when being “gay” is a metaphor for sanctity in secular society (and in certain pseudo-Catholic circles as well; the Archdiocese of Westminster with its Soho Masses springs to mind.)

    It is, sadly, much more likely that the patently unnatural and unhealthy sexual activity of “gays” results in the kind of psychological disturbance that may lead to suicide.  Unfortunately, all the research into the mental health problems associated with homosexuality have been suppressed since homosexuality was legalised, so most people are unaware of any other possible explanation for the high rates of homosexual suicide.  Much easier to blame it on “homophobia”- and the Catholic Church - than study the matter properly.

  • Jason Theobald13

    I would like to believe that SSPX is not in schism, however even the source that you provided calls an ecumenical council of the Catholic Church disastrous, therefore it is difficult for me to believe anything that it says. There you can find excerpts from a letter written from Cardinal Ratzinger’s office which urge the faithful not to participate in this mass, and from the office of the Congregation of the Doctrine of Faith state that by supporting the old catechism and mass above the Novus Ordo and the new catechism and by denying the Vatican II Council members of the Church are undermining our unchangeable Catholic faith. The SSPX have in fact not changed, however it has not stayed consistent with the Church and that is the problem. The Church has not changed, but it has adapted to modern times, and by choosing not to continue in line with the Church in this matter people are continuing to undermine the faith in this way. Those causing the division are those choosing not to follow the Pople, the symbol and vicar of unity for the Church. 

  • Jason Theobald13

    “Just as the validity of a sacrament does not require that the minister have charity, and even sinners can confer sacraments, as stated above, so neither is it necessary that he have faith, and even an unbeliever can confer a true sacrament, provided that the sacrament’s other essentials be present. Notwithstanding his unbelief, the minister can intend to do what the Church does, even if he esteems it as nothing. And such an intention suffices for a sacrament, because, as said above, the minister of a sacrament acts in the person of the whole Church by whose faith any defect in the minister’s faith is made good.” (Summa, III, 64, 9 c., ad 1). 
    Thomas says here clearly that even if the priest does not believe in transubstantiation, if he is presiding over the mass in a way that he desires to do what the Church does, transubstantiation is valid.

  • Jason Theobald13

    I would simply like to raise questions to your first paragraph. Ecumenism, attempting to bring all people into the faith, is a good thing. Religious liberty and freedom, where it allows people to legally practice their faith, is good in that it allows people to seek truth, and as Vatican I taught they can then come to know God through reason (CCC 47). Collegiality is a beautiful thing, I’m not sure what that argument would be. The vernacular was not to please Protestants (if the Church was trying to please Protestants, she would have made this change centuries earlier) but rather was to allow people in the modern world the ability to feel more a part of the mass, just as they did in the early Church and for centuries. Communion in the hand, again if you look to the early Church the faithful would simply sit around a table and break bread; there is to be a mystery, but is Holy Communion in the hand really the reason anyone will fall away from the Church? Extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion, while obviously not the most perfect option, are simply necessary in today’s world. Altar girls, while not the greatest thing in the world, are not a thing to be condemned, and are not the reason anyone falls away from the faith. 

    I urge you, and all people, to return to unity under the head of our Church, Pope Benedict, and his magisterium, and the way that the Holy Sacrifice is offered today, so that as one Church we can push forward and face the difficulties of this modern world. 

  • Anyonymous

    I would like to apologize to Inquisator for the way that he was treated in that response, this is a Catholic forum, let’s remember love. The Church is founded upon the love of a God who became man and died so that we may all be redeemed. Let us let that love show through our desire to help others know the truth; arguing like this helps no one. I pray that this has helped and not incited more anger, as I would simply like to encourage a peaceful discussion here and not one filled with hate. 

  • EditorCT

    Are you accusing me of being “filled with hate” for no other reason that I write in a straightforward style that you dislike?  Because I fail to conform to your personal definition of “love”?  Pity you weren’t in the temple when Our Lord took the corded whip to the moneychangers – He could have used your advice.

    By the way, I generally pay no attention whatsoever to “anonymous” criticisms, but I like you, so made an exception…

  • John G

    Catholics lapse for a variety of reasons including the following: (i) lack of good catechesis; (ii) fear of being seen as odd (because let us face facts )nowadays the militantly secular atheistic press portray Christians as bigots – It is terribly unfashionable being a Christian. You’re unlikely to hold down a good job in politics, in human resources, in medicine, in the civil service etc if you believe everything the Catholic Church teaches – especially on sexual morality. (iii) They can’t live by Church teaching because they don’t trust in God’s grace enough. I could go on forever. Nevertheless, practising Catholics need only look to the Vietnamese martyrs, whose feast day is celebrated today, to look to for inspiration.

  • Bob Hayes

    ‘Vatican 2 has been a disaster…’ Ah yes, the old favourite scapegoat. 

    Vatican II emerged into our rapidly-changing world and its developments have taken place side-by-side with enormous social change in the so-called ‘developed world’. Critics of Vatican II claim a causal link between the Council and Church decline, but where is the evidence of a causal link? It is true that Church decline and Vatican II developments are contiguous; likewise Church decline is also contiguous with many other changes in the developed world. Here are just a few (GB-centric examples in no particular order):

    *  the explosion of consumerism  
    *  ever-expanding television output  
    *  ‘sexual liberation’  
    *  growth in car ownership  
    *  slum clearance and the associated break-up of established communities  
    *  massive growth in women entering paid work  
    *  increasing disposable incomes used for leisure  
    *  the cult of celebrity  
    *  massive changes in teaching and learning methods in state education
    *  the deification of greed and envy by the media  
    *  political parties reinventing themselves as ‘representatives of opinion’, rather proffering a choice of ideologies  
    *  Sunday retailing  
    *  Sunday sporting events  
    *  the concept of human equality being perverted by the individual ‘rights’ agenda  
    *  the growth of militant atheism  
    *  massive expansion in the numbers entering higher education  

    This list could be joined by many more changes paralleling Vatican II developments. Without solid primary source evidence I would not attempt to claim any of the above are responsible for Church decline, though it is plausible that each may have had a negative impact on the Church. Yet those hostile to Vatican II glibly claim the Council brought about Church decline without presenting any evidence beyond the odd anecdote. Let us look at the chanllenges posed by the modern world outside and stop the endless navel contemplation!

  • K. Smith

    Thank, you W. I was just trying to make the point that ‘We are all in this together’ in spite of apearances to the contrary.

    Well, I suppose some sort of case coule made, at a stretch [in my view] that this new translation is ‘richer theologically’ But I still think that it often sounds silly…With its ‘chalices’ and ‘with your spirit’ and ‘place of refreshment’ [pub garden / tea house!!]. Its reliance on verbose Latinate expression is quite in contrast to the sort of language that Jesus himself used.

  • K. Smith

    The Loving Father as revealed in the parable of the Prodigal Son. The Jesus of the Gospels.
    We are not to follow the ways of the Pharisees…That much is clear.

  • K. Smith

    So, to be a ‘Catholic’ one must accept a particular definition of ‘infallible’? There are many theologians [including Catholics] who are still debating this point. Still, I suppose the current ‘put up or shut up’ is pretty clear. Not exactly compassionate or clever …but at least there’s little space for [even polite] discussion. 

  • Anonymous

    “Bishop Kieran Conry of Arundel and Brighton was indirectly quoted by the Guardian as saying the cause was:

    “… more likely to do with laziness and children’s extra-curricular commitments than controversies surrounding the pope or clerical sexual abuse scandals.”

    ## Typical bishop :( Why not ask *why* people are lazy (if & when that reason applies) ? People who are not perverts or sadists tend not to be over the moon when their children are abused by clerics. Just saying :(

    “On the other hand, as Archbishop Dolan said, the sinfulness of Church members is never a “reason to dismiss the Church or her eternal truths”.”

    ## So why not make belief in the claims of the Church as difficult as possible ? Funny how the burden of proof is never on the Church (IOW the hierarchy), no matter how anti-Christian & Christ-free its conduct.

    “Fewer and fewer of our beloved people – to say nothing about those outside the household of the faith – are convinced that Jesus and His Church are one.”

    ## Abp. Dolan has failed to make some very necessary theological distinctions, which would allow what he said to be taken in a true sense, while keeping what he said from being theologically objectionable. To imply that the the lies and predation of the clergy are works done by Christ is blasphemous. But he makes no distinctions; and that is to beg for trouble.

  • Anonymous

    So where is this wonderful “New Pentecost” (ROFL) ?

    Since the New Pentecost (sounds just like Tony Bliar, that does) we have had:

    collapse in vocations to the religious life
    collapse in vocations to the priesthood
    about 150,000 priests leaving the priesthood
    endless liturgical experimentation
    clerical fornication
    adulterer bishops
    a spring-time for heresies to revive
    a “Second Spring” for atheism
    tens of thousands of Catholics leaving the Church
    the resurgence of Islam
    the abominations at Assisi

    - and that’s “off the top of my head”. And we mustn’t forget how Mass attendance in France has shot up to all of 12 per cent, or something of the kind. In the Pope’s diocese, about 10 percent of Catholics attend Mass. Another Pentecost as deadly as this one has been would finish off the Church. The pre-conciliar Roman Missal served the Church 400 years, and nurtured a “galaxy of Saints”. The New Pentecost Missal has served the Church 40 years, one-tenth as long, and it has aborted the Church. The New Pentecost has stifled the missions – we no longer do stupid things like seeking the conversion of the Jews (God forbid !); nor do we require schismatics to acknowledge Papal Primacy. As long as they have a valid liturgy, sacramental life, & Apostolic Succession, they count as “the other lung” of the Church. 

    The things listed in your post re-inforce the case against V2 (which has the same name as a WW2 German missile, rather aptly). The things listed account for the sickliness of the “renewed” Church – but a true renewal, a genuine Work of God, would have strengthened and vivified the Church: not enfeebled and gutted it. It would have been equal to dealing with the facts that are listed as obstacles  to its effectiveness. But it has been grievously unequal to doing so. Is God overcome by trivia like sociological change ? But apparently a renewed & re-invigorated Church can be, & is.

  • Anonymous

    IIRC, the priest must, as an absolute minimum, avoid positively intending to do the opposite of “do[ing] what the Church intends”.  So a priest who disbelieves in transubstantiation can still confect the sacrament validly, even if he makes his position known to others. He is not acting as a private person, but as the minister of the Church’s worship: in that capacity, his own POV, and his defects, are of no account.

    What *sort* of intention the Fathers at Trent had in mind is not clear. The text does not say that a virtual intention to  “do what the Church intends” is insufficient -  but (again, IIRC) I think it has been judged not to be sufficient. If so,  there has to be some motion of the will on the part of the priest, so as to make the intentionality of his act specifically distinct from other his willed acts, so that his act is that (1)of consecrating (2) on this particular occasion, rather than some other act. The intention is formed by the will – so he must move his will so as to “do what the Church does”, whatever that formula may in fact mean.  

    The Church therefore provides brief prayers for the priest in which this intention is expressed, such as this one: “I intend to offer this Mass….”, etc.

    The consecration of Matthew Parker in 1559 was null & void in part because of lack of proper intention. The episode is a good example of what is not meant by “intending to do what the Church does”.    

  • Bob Hayes

    Still no primary source evidence, just the usual ‘bad things have happened in the Church since Vatican II: it must be the fault of the Council’ mantra. 

    Please, some evidence, rather than the usual – and a times banal – rhetoric. The observation about the Nazi V2 rocket is no more ‘amusingly’ pertinent than an observation that the uniformed military who fired the rockets had ‘Gott mit uns’ inscribed on their belt buckles: smart, but hardly an intelligent contribution. 

    Let’s try to use this as a forum for discussion about why Catholics lapse, rather than a platform to air one’s prejudices and showcase one’s perceived erudition.

  • Anyonymous

    There’s a positive way to respond in a straightforward style, and a degrading one. I was simply hoping to raise this idea to people on here that debating in this way isn’t helpful; attacking character doesn’t bring a person to Christ. But I understand from the response that this also won’t be taken well, so I apologize for saying this and will keep these thoughts to myself. 

  • Tiddles the Cat

    Too true! Not enough has been said about the sacrament of Penance. Bring back the confession box! I don’t want to feel as though I’m on a freaking chat show!

    If I wanted that, I’d go on Jeremy Kyle!

  • Tiddles the Cat

    GO AWAY! And take Obama with you!

  • Tiddles the Cat


  • Honeybadger

    Everything you said, Emma, is spot on!

    It would also help if churches bring back the tabernacle to its proper, fitting place as the centre/focus of our attention and whose house it really is – The Real Presence.

    Don’t clock off your Catholic faith the minute the priest says ‘Go, the Mass is ended’

    Live the faith 24/7!!!!

  • Tiddles The Cat

    Pur-lease!!!! Let’s also remember that this is a forum for TOUGH LOVE as far as our faith is concerned. Roman Catholics show love but we are not wusses!

  • Tiddles The Cat

    Er, Jesus spoke in Aramaic… which is still spoken.

    The priest does NOT turn his back on the congregation! He offers up the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Christ in form of bread and wine to GOD for us and – this next bit you are clearly ignorant of - we are all facing the same way when he does this Sacred Action!

  • Tiddles The Cat


  • Joan

    Actually, the language of the Liturgy in Jesus’s day was Hebrew. They didn’t speak the “ordinary” language of the people at all.

  • Tiddles The Cat

    Take a look in the mirror, sister!

  • Tiddles The Cat

    Our popes have worked amongst the poor – both before and after they became popes.

    As Jesus says ‘the poor will always be with us.’

    Why do people pick on the Pope and Vatican buildings (he incidentally lives in a modest appartment which is part of the Vatican) and not look at the splendours, riches, twisted ethical compass and the obese bank accounts of those who ruin/run our economies which throw people onto the scrapheap and into poverty.

    The Pope has spoken time and time and time again about this. Those in charge of economies think he’s talking through his mozzetta… but, as we are finding out now, he sure wasn’t!

    The Roman Catholic Church does more in the line of charity, healthcare and helping the marginalised than anyone else.

    Time to look at the bigger picture!

  • Teutonic Knight

    “In the developed world, where statistics exist, openly homosexual teens
    are 6 times more likely to commit suicide than any heterosexual
    counterpart. This is down almost entirely to ostracisation from their
    peers due to the lingering sentiments of homophobia instilled in many
    people due to all the Christian tradition of which the Catholic Church is the largest member, and consequentially, the largest offender.”

    Research has shown that the main drivers for homosexual suicide are in fact psychology (poor mental health) and also a failure to cope with relationship break-ups. 

    Research also shows that the vast majority of homosexual relationships are relatively short term; this seems to make sense when you consider the tiny amount of homosexual people in society, which would make it much harder for individuals to find what they considered a suitable partner. 

    An extreme reaction to a relationship break-up would correspond to poor mental health, (which is actually surprisingly common in society, even regardless of sexuality), and this coupled with the aforementioned high frequency of homosexual relationship failure, would seem to explain the higher threat of homosexual suicide.

    Catholicism views homosexuality as disordered, just as it does masturbation or sex outside of marriage.  It would be equally absurd to attempt to blame Catholic opinion for the suicides of promiscuous people, as it is to attempt to blame it for homosexual suicides.

    In any case; homosexuality is not disordered just because the Catholic Church says so.  It is disordered because biological science says so.  The physical body of every person says so.  Catholic opinion on human nature and sexuality simply acknowledges this truth – a truth understood via science, a truth revealed by scripture.