More than anything what this article tells me is that we have completely failed to teach the faith to our people, young and old alike.
It is a report that is supposed to be hopeful: Catholics in Boston who stayed away from church because of the Scandal are returning now. But it’s what they’re saying that’s discouraging. They don’t trust the Church, they don’t like the politics, they come out of old habit, they stay because they want to change the Church’s teachings. The focus here is on one parish as representative of the rest. So why the problems? I think it can be summed up here:
Members of the congregation were full of praise for [Father] Perno, who they said had made St. Thomas a welcoming place for families and for those whose beliefs diverge from official church teachings on social issues.
That says it all, doesn’t it? No one challenges them to live their faith as it is; no one calls them to embrace the Way, the Truth, and the life; no one explains to them why the Church teaches what she does. It’s probably not unrelated that Fr. Perno is on leave, getting treated for alcohol abuse, as the article tells us.
Some people put their hope in Voice of the Faithful:
“The whole thing could be used as a message of hope and rebuilding,” said Dajer, a nurse-midwife. “It could be a springboard for opening up a conversation on the priesthood and what that actually means. If there was a time to remake the priesthood, that time is now. Voice of the Faithful has been pushing that agenda for some time, but people don’t seem interested.”
We know what the priesthood means? Do you, Ms. Dajer? How can you propose to remake it, when most people don’t even understand what it is? And perhaps there’s a reason that no one listens to VOTF: because it’s a small minority that represents a minority dissident view. It does not provide the “words of eternal life” so it easy to abandon them when their true nature is revealed.