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...
they'll send their kids to Catholic schools,
sure they'll maybe turn up
for Christmas[for the kids]
and first holy communions
not knowing exactly what to do
through the motions
with a schizophrenic nostalgia
Not exactly disbelieving in God , [atheism's too
big a step]
but not knowing exactly what to believe any
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?
Most don't really know
- they just did
- it went from not making the
autonomic ritualised effort...
- to making excuses...
- not doing it at
- 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
- 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]
Church has to move with the times..of course there should be...
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
- they should be like part wandering monk/part social
worker spending 24/7 at foodbanks, soup kitchens and giving counselling
- 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"
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']
Benedict thing was bad.
Nice enough guy I suppose
- wrong about
- 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"
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
[impose your mental wish list of what you want onto what this new Pope wants]
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?"
think I've heard variants of that speech [alluding to various
characters and attributing such right/wrong dichotomies] for the past
All from those adult men who've left the Church...
And why did they leave?
We all know why they left!
Church went through a mid-life crisis
- went crazy and pursued a mad
self-indulgent binge and free-for-all for nearly forty years
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
of the rituals, the beliefs, the traditions, the devotions, the masses,
the morality, the community, the whole calendar, the unchangeable
- and nobody had any idea what could really replace
any of it
- so attempted every possible way and just wrought chaos in
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....
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,
The abuse inflicted on them by the Church
the EMASCULATED communal and catechetical neglect
- 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?
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!
'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
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
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...
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 -
the knights of columba - working class ,
cleaners - working class - the gardeners, the ones running the raffles
or the trips to walsingham or Lourdes in the jumbulance? working
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...
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
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
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
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
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
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