Indianapolis is about to get a new auxiliary bishop, and the local paper has a lengthy profile, in which he talks about ways to build up the church — beginning with better preaching:
With unpacked boxes piled high in his own office, Bishop-elect Christopher J. Coyne received a pair of visitors last week in the office across the hall — the one that belongs to Archbishop Daniel M. Buechlein.
Because of an assortment of health problems, the 72-year-old Buechlein has been increasingly absent the last couple of years. And in some ways, Coyne’s use of the bishop’s cozy office is fitting. He was appointed by the pope to be Buechlein’s helper, and to go places where the archbishop can no longer go.
Coyne, 52, seems uncomfortable in the environs — or at least less comfortable than when he was introduced at a press conference last month as the new auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis. In front of the media and a group of priests that day, he was loose and jovial, quick with a joke — freely discussing his days as a bartender, among other things.
Here, alone in the bishop’s office, he is more sedate. Offered the chance to talk about being kicked out of the Boys Scout as a boy, or his lack of ambition as a teenage student, or his cooking skills — all subjects that were part of profiles in the archdiocesan newspaper’s 28-page special section — he is unenthusiastic.
Instead Coyne, who will be ordained as a bishop Wednesday in ceremonies at St. John the Evangelist Church, is more animated when talking about the need to improve preaching in the Catholic Church. He is chatty about using the Internet to reach people who are isolated from human contact. And he speaks admiringly of what Rick Warren, a Protestant mega-church pastor and best-selling author, has to say about making the church a people magnet in order to reach them with the message of faith.
Preaching, never a hallmark of Catholic worship, has for too long been an afterthought for pastors, Coyne said. For decades, priests were given no training on the art. But he says bad preaching, along with bad music, are big reasons people don’t want to come to church. And it’s an area he might try to help archdiocesan pastors work on.
“I think we could all improve,” he said.
As for Warren, Coyne likes what the purpose-driven pastor has to say on reaching those who have gotten away from church — that activities at a church can give people an easy door to reconnect.
“Once you get them in the door,” he said, “you can evangelize.”
“We are a very complacent church,” Coyne says. “We have believed that Catholics would be born and raised and would die Catholic and continue to come through the doors. And people don’t anymore.”
Check out what else he has to say at the link.