To stop declining numbers, Catholic Church should focus on being more welcoming
Letter to the Editor
Recently there have been news articles that many people are leaving the Catholic Church. The most recent article I read attributes this trend to LGBTQ issues. Other articles have stated this loss can also be attributed to the sex scandal that has rocked the Church worldwide. If we look within ourselves, we each probably have our own thoughts as to why the church population is decreasing.
I would like to share my thoughts on this issue by looking internally and remembering first that “it is all in how you look at it.”
I have been to many parishes in my lifetime both in the United States and overseas. First and foremost, we must be a church with open doors where there are no signs saying “No Trespassing” on their entrance ways. We have many parishes with local traditions that enhanced the celebration of the mass while other churches have been extremely rigid where there is no reflection of love, compassion or feelings for what they are celebrating. In the most recent issue of The Colorado Catholic Herald there was the story that the majority of Catholics don’t believe in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. It seems at times that the priest lends himself to this belief by celebrating mass like a robot, moving on the altar like a robot, reading their homilies like a robot with no feelings and usually just giving the people another rendition of the readings or gospel for that day’s Mass.
We need desperately priests with feelings and knowledge about what is going on in their local community. We need desperately homilies that focus on the moral crises that we, as a community and nation face daily, the immigration issue for example. We need homilies on community issues such as the many killings taking place, the hate issues, the level of crime or the sexual abuse that has taken place. Not talking about these issues does not mean they do not exist, but it might mean that our local parishes and diocese do not have the courage or desire to address them. What would Jesus be saying today if he was doing the homilies at our Mass?
Finally, I ask the question: are we a church of the poor or a church of the elite? It seems that every edition of the Herald carries listings of upcoming pilgrimages costing in the thousands of dollars. There is even an ad in the latest edition for the Bishop’s Respect Life Dinner for $65 per person or $600 for a table of 10. I wonder how those that make minimum wage and support their families and try to meet their needs feel about seeing these advertisements and wishing they could participate. Could these be some of the people who are exiting our churches and going elsewhere?
We as a church must go back to becoming the church of love and compassion for all people. We must at all times practice being a living vibrant church. We must always reach out to all people regardless of skin color, nationality, religion, sexual orientation, and we must do it with love. We must once again try to become a church of all the people and for the people, a church of Jesus Christ.
Thomas P. Whelan