Friday, 3 February 2017

Andy Burnham,the Lapsation of Catholic men and why the Catholic men in the Priesthood are part of the problem...

NuEvangelists recently took to heart the lapsed Catholic MP's sub-progressive complaints about the Church not moving with the times and not being relevant for the youth and not engaging with the culture on their level - and amidst handwringing and posturing they sought to formulate a pro-active response to Mr Burnham's claims...in just the same way EVERY form of NuEvangelisation has responded in the past 30years...
...and yet we're still wondering why 95% of our teenagers are haemorrhaging out of the Church!
...they just don't get that Andy's generic and somewhat patronisingly shallow complaints - aren't the problem!

Go into any large English town and one could find 1,000 Andy Burnhams
A large Northern City and one could easily find ten thousand and in Merseyside? 100,000 at least.

Disaffected, faintly-inclined, culturally Catholic lapsed who have just left the whole thing behind...

Sure they'll send their kids to Catholic schools,
sure they'll maybe turn up for Christmas[for the kids]
and first holy communions
and the matching/hatching/despatching
not knowing exactly what to do
but going through the motions
with a schizophrenic nostalgia
versus 'grown-up' worldly dismissal...

Not exactly disbelieving in God , [atheism's too big a step]
but not knowing exactly what to believe any more....
thinking all this ritual nonsense is made-up anachronistic hokum
 - that even despite the old 'pay,pray and obey' 'holier than thou' mob...
- all the money-grabbing canons, the sadistic nuns, the hypocritical town councillor in the front pew who is having it away with his secretary, the mentally ill pietistic aunt who had visions of st philomena...
 Despite all the madness of Catholicism - these lapsed 'likely lads' consider some of the spirituality devotions have their psychological benefits [never did their mother any harm]
- opining that the fundamentals of Christianity aren't a bad thing as a moral basis
- and it can be a good sensible/disciplinary ethical grounding for kids ,
providing you veer more towards the Santa Claus God rather than the Bogeyman God.

...and why did they leave it all behind?
Well?
Most don't really know
- they just did
- it went from not making the autonomic ritualised effort...
- to making excuses...
- to...well?
- not doing it at all...
- and the world didn't end did it?
- it hasn't made them any worse a person has it?
- no offence to those who have to go to mass but it's just..well?
- they just drifted away...
- there didn't seem to be much point any more really...

But of course they won't say that to anyone other than their intimates
- rather it will be:

"Oh the world's moved on and left the Church behind"
[and if the world has? it gives them sort of quasi-justification]

"The Church has to move with the times..of course there should be...
[and we all know the list - the women/married/gay priests, the relaxing on contraception and divorce, the compromising a little with abortion and euthanasia in certain circumstances...
- and all this celibacy mullarkey with all the ritualised vestments - no sex, no partner and living on their own isn't human [no wonder they go weird]
- they need to be down and with it and trendy with the homeless, the drug-addict and the dispossessed
- they should be like part wandering monk/part social worker spending 24/7 at foodbanks, soup kitchens and giving counselling sessions....
- and they should change the masses to be more welcoming for kids and youth..and talk about the things they're interested in like the environment and their personal needs etc etc etc"
 [Recognise it yet?]

 "Oh that Pope Benedict - he hadn't got a clue!
He symbolises everything that's wrong with the Church"

[impose all manner of latent pent up animosities at those clerics/nuns/guilt trips that gave you past grief - blame it on their bigotry and intolerance and heartlessness - concentrate it into one ineffable hate-laden indictment - and launch it at the target
[all the more easy if he's german, a scholar and 'from the old school']

"Yes the Benedict thing was bad.
Nice enough guy I suppose
- wrong about everything
- but he's past it
- the world has moved on and there's no point trying to try to reverse it..
- you'll just alienate people"

"Pope Francis?
Ah here's a bit of a good thing
- he understands the world more and the struggles of real people
- he'll know
- he's seen dictatorships and slum kids"

[impose your mental wish list of what you want onto what this new Pope wants]
"of course he won't be able to change things totally.
[too many rich fat autocratic bishops onto a good thing].
- but he should be able to give it a good push into the 21st century so there's no going back to the bad old days of sin and guilt and prejudice...
- he'll bring in reform if he can thwart the vatican bigwigs - but you can't expect miracles can you?"

I think I've heard variants of that speech [alluding to various characters and attributing such right/wrong dichotomies] for the past forty years...

All from those adult men who've left the Church...
And why did they leave?
We all know why they left!
The Church went through a mid-life crisis
- went crazy and pursued a mad self-indulgent binge and free-for-all for nearly forty years
- wrecking Catholic creed, code and cult and its cultural, social, communal, spiritual and psychological identity in the process
For nearly two thousand years there was ALWAYS a point in being Catholic
- a map for your life, a compass to direct you, a destination to achieve, and fellow travellers all going in the same direction - and they all knew why they were there and why they were on that journey...

Then suddenly they didn't
None of that mattered any more
None of the rituals, the beliefs, the traditions, the devotions, the masses, the morality, the community, the whole calendar, the unchangeable
- all changed overnight
- and nobody had any idea what could really replace any of it
- so attempted every possible way and just wrought chaos in their wake....

If it could all change?
Then the original couldn't have been true or real could it?

It couldn't have mattered as much as we thought it did?

Which meant as none of this mattered any more we didn't matter any more
..and so there was no point any more...

So they left....

It's far too easy to apportion blame on Andy Burnham for all his misguided misgivings and misimaginings and misunderstandings and misplaced allegiances and misbegotten betrayals...

Andy Burnham - and millions of other lapsed Catholics with hiim, are more victims of what happened to the Church over the past fifty years than superficial, ungrateful traitors...

The abuse inflicted on them by the Church
- the EMASCULATED communal and catechetical neglect
- the liturgical/educational experimentation
- the enforced confusion and alienation from this post vatican 2 'emotional spasm' destroyed millions of people's religious identities and somewhere along the road they lost parts of themselves in the process....

..and may God forgive us in what we did to those little ones

Because they grew up
- they're confused
- they're lost
- and they're hurting!

The recent NuEvangelisation initiatives like 'invite a friend' & 'Catholics come home' haven't really caught on...
...and I suppose we have to at least attempt to ask ourselves why?

More workload I suppose - it's ironic that given the massive increased demands made upon a reduced clergy this has counterintuitively led to a reaction of clerics who are decidedly sedentary and well? Bone idle!

The 'missionary strategy' changed in the eighties - instead of the priest going out to the people it was instead the priest should be 'available at the presbytery for his people'
...which was more disastrously futile in the actuation than absurd in the notion

When a significant amount of Catholics are forced to work Sundays to keep a roof over their heads the majority of Priests now engage in half-day closing [you try finding a mass after 11am across hundreds of square miles of this fair land] as well as having a weekly day off...and when I remember my work in presbyteries in the 80s/90s [thriving hives of industry like crewe station with the traffic in and out] most of the Priest's houses these days are like maximum security solitary confinement strongholds - hundreds of Miss Havisham's twiddling their thumbs watching bargain hunt...

Over the past generation the majority lapsation has been among the working classes - and even though during the 70s and 80s so many trendy clerics were inveterate reverse snobs [the sort you only really find now among Bishops and ageing 'yoof leaders']
but they invariably found allies among the like-minded within the middle classes
..and the middle-classes - for all their virtues - are inclined towards snobbery and judgmentalism...
This whole professional laity mullarkey became decidedly bourgeois and cliquey [committees - committees - committees]

Didn't work:Couldn't work.

When the Church stops directing itself towards God it collapses into becoming 'people oriented'
Friendships emerge while people are all doing the same thing - working together - worshipping together...
But when people are just 'doing things' that's when the personality clashes erupt - the petty power struggles - the silly oneupmanships - the tin pot tyrants...the ganging up and taking sides...
Go into the majority of parishes and you'll find
a legion of mary - working class,
an SVP - working class,
the knights of columba - working class ,
the Church cleaners - working class - the gardeners, the ones running the raffles or the trips to walsingham or Lourdes in the jumbulance? working class...

BUT the Catechists and Sunday extraordinary ministers and the school governors and the rotarians and the parish council and the liturgists and Father's selective group of chummy families are almost always - middle class!
Is it mere natural orientation towards specific roles?
 Or is it what we've always known it was?
That this 'lay empowerment' is decidedly bourgeois - and our bourgeois clergy like it that way.

Well Lacordaire said part of a Priest's vocation was to be a member of every family yet belonging to none...
..and Priests don't really do door-to-door visiting any more so they never really get to know the vast majority of their flock except maybe during the big sacraments or during the awkwardness of bereavement and funerals

It is not good for a priest to not be occupied
[and no I'm not referring to the phoney 'doing priests who are always rushing around to meetings and committees about every inanity going merely to compensate for the gaping void in his spiritual,personal and pastoral life]
Loneliness is a killer...
When we have an increasing faithful [young and old] who live on their own and need some form of support - it's ironic that their own priest is vulnerable to the same tragedy.

So how can these people reach out to new members - or recall those who have lapsed?
I think a lot of it is a crisis in Faith
Far too many 'do religion' rather than be religious
...I think a lot of it is ignorance, and fear, and a deep worry that if they really looked themselves in the mirror or reflected and discerned upon the little they do know - they might begin to have creeping doubts about it all and the whole belief-thing might just evaporate ...

We're still not too bad at showing people what to do as Catholics
We're ok at telling them what they need to know
..and how to do it
But we are woefully incompetent - especially in our literature and from the pulpit and in our newspapers or media commentators...
in ever explaining WHY
...and when we are never quite sure about the why?
the doubts linger..and intensify....

How many times did Our Lord ask "do you believe?"
I think instead of believing there's a lot of 'just doing it and not thinking about it too much'
..and guess what?
if you truly don't believe something, or are hesitant and uncertain....
You fool nobody..
Especially those who've come to the Church looking for answers to their whys

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