THE SERVANT GENERAL
THE NEW EVANGELIZATION
LCSC IS ONE DYNAMIC RESPONSE
May 3, 2017
I am glad someone else, in this case Phil Lawler, is saying
what he is saying. This is what we have been saying all along
about the sad state of our Church.
Catholics are lapsed and not practicing.
The situation of our Church is dire. We are losing Catholics
by the day.
It is our responsibility to evangelize. We must be persistent
is needed is new wine in new wineskins. To do the same things
over and over again but expect a different result is the
definition of insanity (per Einstein). The call is to a
gospel has power to touch the hearts of people, so we need
to proclaim the gospel. And do it rapidly, massively, and
Phil asks: How should we respond? The answer is LCSC.
A pastoral crisis the Church cannot (yet does)
By Phil Lawler | Apr 28, 2017
The Archdiocese of Boston has opened a new church. That news
drew headline coverage, in a city that has become more accustomed
to stories about church closings.
be perfectly honest, the news stories are a bit misleading.
There have been a few new churches opened in Boston in the
past 60 years, but they have been new buildings rather than
new parishes: new churches that were constructed to replace
buildings that had been destroyed by fire or by the
wrecking ball. As a matter of fact, that’s also the
case with the latest building, the church of Our Lady of Good
So unless I’m mistaken, the overall count remains unchanged:
in the past 50 years, the Archdiocese of Boston has opened
zero new parish churches. Over the same span, roughly
125 parishes have been shut down or merged into “cluster”
This might be understandable, if the Boston’s Catholic
population had disappeared. But it hasn’tat least
not according to the official statistics. On paper, it has
grown. There were about 1.8 million Catholics registered in
the area covered by the Boston archdiocese 50 years ago; today
the official figure is 1.9 million.
The trouble, of course, is that
most of those 1.9 million Catholics aren’t practicing
the faith. Consequently it should be no surprise
that their sons don’t aspire to the priesthood. There
were just over 2,500 priests working in the archdiocese 50
years ago; now there are fewer than 300. That’s right;
nearly 90% of the priests are gone. If you can’t replace
the priests, you can’t keep open the parishes.
Let’s be frank. These
figures are not a cause for concern; they are a cause for
horror. Panic is never useful, but something close to panic
is appropriate here. Things have gone terribly, terribly wrong.
Our Lord commissioned us to
“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing
them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy
Spirit.” We’re not doing that.
We aren’t even holding onto the people who were baptized
into the faith. We should be bringing more people into the
Church, not congratulating ourselves on minimizing the losses.
Although the situation in Boston is unusually bad, it is not
unique. All around us, the same
sad trends are in evidence. Parish closings and wholesale
diocesan retrenchment programs have become familiar. How should
Here are two possible responses:
A) “This is a disaster! Stop everything. Drop what you’re
doing. “Business as usual” makes no sense; this
is a pastoral emergency. We don’t just need another
“renewal” program, offered by the same people
who have led us into this debacle. We need
to figure out what has gone wrong. More than that. We know
that the Gospel has the power
to bring people to Christ; therefore it follows that we have
failed to proclaim the Gospel. The fault lies with us.
We should begin with repentance for our failures.”
B) “Don’t worry. Times change, and we have to
change with them. Religion isn’t popular in today’s
culture, but the faith will make a comeback sooner or later.
We just need to keep plugging away, to have confidence, to
remember God’s promise that the Church will endure forever.”
You see what’s wrong with argument B, don’t you?
Yes, the Lord promised that the Church would last through
the end of time. But he did not promise that the Archdiocese
of Boston (or your own diocese) would last forever. The
faith can disappear, indeed has disappeared, from large geographical
areas northern Africa, for instance.
Moreover, it’s both presumptuous and illogical to assume
that the faith will make a comeback in another generation
or two. The young adults who today don’t bother to marry
in the Church are not likely to bring their children there
for Baptism (if they have children). Those children, years
later, aren’t likely to feel the urge to go back to
their parish church (if it still stands), since they were
never there in the first place. The Catholic faith is passed
down from generation to generation. If parents stop teaching
their children, those children have nothing to teach the grandchildren.
In two generations, a thoroughly
Catholic society can become mission territory.
Look at Boston. Look at Quebec. Look at Ireland.
Finally, even if we could safely assume that the faith will
recover in another 10 or 20 or 50 years, that would not absolve
us, in this current generation, of our
responsibility to evangelize. Right now, people
are going without the benefit of the sacraments, because of
our failure and our complacency. Lives are being lost; souls
are being lost. We are accountable.
So between the two responses, A) and B), there is no comparison.
One might sound extreme, but the other is just plain wrong.
There are, sad to say, two other responses:
C) “It doesn’t really matter whether or not people
go to church on Sunday. As long as we’re all nice people,
God in his mercy will bring us all to heaven.”
D) “Don’t bother me with your statistics. Actually
the faith is stronger than ever. Our parish/diocese is vibrant!
You’re only seeing the negative.
Response C) is not Catholic. Response D) ishow shall
I put this gently?not rational. Unfortunately, I hear
B), C), and D) much more often than A). Don’t you?
Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years.
He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight
books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director
and lead analyst at CatholicCulture.org. See full bio.