Case in Point

Quid Pro Quo

The apathy identified by Pope Benedict is played out on the parish level on a daily basis. Many priests are confronted by and asked to accept worldly values as part and parcel of what is normal. These requests come from regular parishioners who are steeped in worldly and/or American cultural values and come to the church looking not for what they can offer to the church but for getting payback from the church for all they have done. It seems that so few today give without expecting in return.

For instance, parishioners who have given generously over the years may have a child who is getting married. While there are certain areas where the liturgy has room for some options, there are also practices and songs that simply do not belong in church. Yet if they are told that it is not permitted because it is contrary to the faith, the response is usually prefaced with remarks like, “you know how much we give to the church father. Is this really that big a deal?” And when they are told it is, they usually make a threat that the giving will stop if they cannot have their way.

Part of this problem arose within the generation of permissive priests and religious who did not set or enforce limits. The Church and Her Teaching was a take it or leave proposition. It was a generation in which only the infallible was presented as non-negotiable and all else was up for discussion. It was a generation who thought pastoral meant nice and the rubrics of the Church were merely offered as guidelines. It was a generation of negotiation with the goal of keeping people in the pews rather than feeding them with the pastoral Truth, which demands an informed obedience. For these priests and the following they have left behind, it has become more important to remain popular in the eyes of many than to remain focused on what is most important for attaining salvation.

The apathy and indifference will continue to grow until the priests and religious leaders of our time embrace the Truth and present it as the pearl of great price. Only then will the catechetical failure be addressed at its roots and the new evangelization will begin.