Jersey jolt: most Catholics in survey say Jesus sinned

The bishop of Camden is troubled by these findings — and with good reason:

South Jersey Catholics know less about their faith and are less committed to its practice than their neighbors in other Christian denominations, according to a new survey that Bishop Joseph Galante calls “troubling.”

It found that the Diocese of Camden’s 500,000 Catholics are significantly less likely than other Christians to attend Sunday services, invite friends to visit their church, believe in the Bible, or understand Jesus’ divine nature.

In releasing the telephone survey of 612 adults, Galante said Wednesday he was particularly dismayed to learn that 57 percent of the Catholics believed Jesus had sinned during his time on Earth and was “no different” from other human beings — in sharp contrast to core church teaching that Jesus was without sin. Only 28 percent of non-Catholic Christians thought Jesus had sinned.

“What does this tell me?” the bishop said at a news conference. “It tells me most [Catholics] know the church’s moral teachings, about things like our objection to abortion and gay marriage … but are woefully deficient” on matters of doctrine.

Galante also deplored the finding that only about 23 percent of Catholics attended Mass weekly and said he intended to “make observing the Lord’s Day a priority.”

To that end, he said, he had instructed all pastors and youth-group leaders to no longer schedule sports games and practices on Sunday mornings, which he said were major diversions.

The $25,000 survey was conducted in February by the Barna Group, an evangelical Christian polling organization, which contacted adults of all faiths across Camden, Atlantic, Cape May, Cumberland, Gloucester and Salem Counties. The results are to serve as the basis of a comprehensive effort to better form the faith of the Catholic community, with particular attention to young adults — the age when most Catholics who leave the church do so.

The diocese will also use the survey to devise ways to reach out to the hundreds of thousands of “unchurched” Christians in the six counties, who, the survey found, have not visited a church in at least six months.

The diocese will “not snare believers away from other churches,” Galante said, but will “invite those seeking a faith community.” Forty percent of all adults surveyed said they did not attend church regularly, which was significantly higher than the national average of 29 percent.

Read more.


  1. The cause? Poor catechesis, or no catechesis, or “secular catechesis” (i.e., what folks glean from popular media, like Dan Brown novels or the occasional breathless Newsweek story on the latest findings of the “Jesus Seminar”).

    Our encounter with Jesus Christ, the second Person of the Holy Trinity, is at the heart of our Catholic Christian faith. So it’s important that we get the right answer to the question posed by Jesus, “But who do you say that I am?” (Mk 8:29)

  2. Regina J. Faighes says:

    I agree with you one hundred percent, Mark. In my opinion, fully-initiated Catholics or not, these people would benefit from attending R.C.I.A. classes alongside adults who want to be received into the Catholic Church. They obviously need to receive formal catechesis in the basic tenets of our faith.

  3. Diakonos09 says:

    Regarding reclaining the Lord’s Day: our archdiocese recently initiated a “no Sunday morning” sports/youth events” policy as well AND mandated that ALL sports and youth events sponsored by our archdiocesan youth organization would begin with a formula-prayer written precisely for this use (even if a majority of non-Catholics composed a team). Well…the proverbial &^%$ hit the fan from coaches and parents but our archdiocese held firm and things seem to be calming down.

  4. IntoTheWest says:

    “They obviously need to receive formal catechesis in the basic tenets of our faith.”

    Shouldn’t that sentence read: “They obviously need to receive formal catechesis in the basic tenets of their faith.”

    Poorly catechised or not, it’s still their faith, too.

    There’s no us and them in Catholicism.

  5. I am handling the estate of my aunt who lived in Cape May NJ, in this diocese, and I have had the chance to make some observations about the sad state of affairs of the church in this diocese at large.
    I tried to donate all her clothes and furniture to Catholic Charities, but learned that they had closed their location when the building was condemned under local building codes because of very bad black mold. I thought that this would have been a temporary situation, but no, this became a way to save money by not opening in a new location.
    Likewise, she had a valuable Steinway piano which I could not donate to the local parish school, because it was in the process of closing down. Then I tried the local Catholic High School. They were grateful for the thought, but told me that they were undergoing a consolidation of schools and programs, and that music was likely to be dropped.
    This diocese also made nationwide news when it had the ridiculous instance of the little girl whose First Communion was revoked. She had celiac disease, like many people. Gluten products are to be avoided by these individuals, and the reactions vary from moderate to very severe, sometimes instantly causing the need for hospitalization. The local bishop said that the pastor was wrong to allow her a communion wafer made with a gluten-free recipe. On a national level, the bishops conference is also against accommodating the Catholics with this gluten problem. Their solution? Don’t go to communion ! Our “Eucharistic Church” in the US, particularly the Diocese of Camden, advocates avoiding communion in this instance, where a gluten free recipe is available.
    I did not know that Jesus handed out cookbooks with favorite recipes at the Last Supper.
    Anyway, although this is an “East Coast Diocese”, it is largely rural and ex-urban, with fluctuating summer populations of tourists. It reminds me of many other dying dioceses that I have seen in Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio. Our heartless hierarchy has become more interested in the rules and doctrines and definitions, rather than in Christian Love. I heard a speaker once say that Catholics are taught to worship the institution, and I am beginning to believe this more and more each day. Regarding this story, I think that a great many people in this diocese have dropped out or tuned out long ago. I am sort of the kid in the different churches there that I have attended, in my’60′s.

  6. vox borealis says:

    Thank heavens for the robust catechesis found in so many vibrant Catholic communities for the last fifty (or more) years. At least some waking up to the disaster that has been the last two generations of Catholic formation.

  7. Notgiven says:

    Good for them! God bless!

  8. Notgiven says:

    A man like us in all things but sin! This is so basic.

  9. It would be great of people would attend RCIA, but I don’t know how many people would attend. It would help to include doctrinal teaching in homilies just not scriptural meditation.

  10. Theophile says:

    Hi Mark,
    Wouldn’t the cause be complete ignorance of scripture, instead? Didn’t Jesus caution against vain repetitions? Instead of hail Mary, or catechesis how about reading Moses, the prophets, and the Gospels in their entirety? Either our faith is rooted in scripture, or the doctrines & traditions of men. Which did Jesus say testified of Him?

  11. Regarding the “gluten free” host, if it was not a wheat based material (essentially gluten-free wheat hosts are available), a defect of form may have made the sacrament invalid. If this was the case, the bishop may have acted very properly.

    Regarding the 57% that believed Christ had sinned, I’m guessing that they are among the 77% that do not attend mass regularly. For whatever reasons, Catholic’s are much more likely to cling to the Catholic label even though their practice may be little or non-existent. This is much less true among Protestants.

  12. midwestlady says:

    The church stopped teaching real content in the 60s. What did they think would happen?

  13. midwestlady says:

    No. I’m a convert. RCIA classes are not well-done in many places across the country. Many converts share that they are merely rites of passage to get into the Church. What is needed is real parish education, where members of the parish are expected to attend events in order to be considered members in good standing by the other parish members. I’m talking about combination of bible studies, CCC studies, video series such as “Discovering Christ” by Christlife or the Catholicism series by Fr. Barron, and so on.

  14. midwestlady says:

    It’s ridiculous that they didn’t have this before.

  15. midwestlady says:

    And this is the kind of attitude that has led us to this nasty state of affairs.

  16. IntoTheWest says:

    ” What is needed is real parish education, where members of the parish are expected to attend events in order to be considered members in good standing by the other parish members.”

    I thought we were talking about Catholicism and faith…guess I was wrong. Y’all must be talking about an exclusive country club, or a co-op board, or something.

  17. IntoTheWest says:

    “nasty” state of affairs? Really?

    But you’re the one who wants to be on some special committee that judges other Catholics, rather than leaving that to, oh, that guy, you know…what’s His name…oh, yeah…God.

  18. midwestlady says:

    Sell the piano, and then if you want to give the money, do so and stop obsessing about it; you said it was very valuable; there you go.
    Give the clothes to goodwill or dump them off someplace.
    Do you have celiac disease? It’s a medical issue and I think it’s between the girl and the Church, if you want to know the truth.
    It seems like you’re looking for a reason for something. Are you?

  19. midwestlady says:

    Not at all. Less than half of the people who say they’re Catholic show up for 45 minutes and week once a week, and that’s it in many parishes across the country. Zero. Zip. Nada. That’s it. No wonder they don’t know their faith.

  20. IntoTheWest says:

    And you want to head this committee of people who judge the other parishioners, right…?

    Oh, the irony…

  21. midwestlady says:

    About Catholics hanging onto the label longer than Protestants, this is true. Catholicism has an ethnic quality that people use to identify themselves, regardless of whether they ever go to church. There are many, many people who consider themselves Catholic who never show up in Mass and wouldn’t think of reading a bible.

  22. midwestlady says:

    No, IntotheWest,
    No committee. Catholics need to be given the idea, which is a good idea, that in order to be really Catholic, they need to participate. Yes, participate. Which means attend things at the parish. On a regular basis.

  23. midwestlady says:

    You can’t expect to cram everything people have to know into that 45 minutes a week that Catholics show up once a week. Mass is not school. Catholics need school AND mass.

  24. midwestlady says:

    Oh yes, another variation of the attitude that got us into this sorry mess. Typical.

  25. midwestlady says:

    And yes, it is a nasty state of affairs. We have people claiming to be Catholic who think Jesus sinned. They also think a lot of things that never were, still aren’t and never will be, Catholic or even basically Christian. A lot of people are just making it up as they go along, as this poll shows.

  26. I am very interested in the celiac issue, since it runs in families, and I have several family members with the problem. I do not like the “tough luck” attitude” that some people are turned away from communion. I have a niece who can not receive, and she had been a very active Catholic until this gluten issue became a problem. I think that Christ does not expect any recipe rules to be used to keep a Catholic in grace away from communion.
    It is very sad to see what is occurring in the Camden diocese. I think that we should all be concerned about why the church is dying in places. Sometimes it really is too many rules, too many “dogmas”. I bet a married clergy would be a big boost in lots of these places. I was sad to see so much not working, closing down, lack of life, etc. in that diocese.

  27. naturgesetz says:

    Drake —

    It is certainly regrettable that the Diocese of Camden seems to be in decline. I hope that an effect of the bishop’s response to this survey will be a reinvigoration of that Church.

    But as for Communion and those with celiac disease, I have never heard of an instance where a diocese refused Holy Communion. Every time I have heard of a problem, there has always been an invitation to receive Communion from the cup. If people refuse this option, it is they, not the Church, who are being rigid and stubborn. But there must be proper matter for the Eucharist. Just as beer can’t be substituted for wine, rice can’t be substituted for wheat.

  28. IntoTheWest says:

    And you’re just the one to, uh, “give” them this idea, eh? You and your friends-in-good-standing.

    Pray tell, my dear…can you please direct me to the section of the CCC that tells us Catholics that one set of “members” (by which, I suppose, you mean “parishioners”) gets to sit in judgment on the “good standing” of other parishioners? I’m just so poorly catechised I’m sure it’s in there but I’m just too dull-witted to find it…

  29. IntoTheWest says:

    I don’t know what weird brand of fundie, non-denom Protestantism you’ve muddled up with Catholicism, but the upshot is that you really don’t have a clue as to what Catholicism is. Not the slightest.

  30. Some of these surveys are baloney. I’m not saying this is, but I’m skeptical. There are surveys that point out that less than a quarter of Americans know when the Civil War happened. Catechesis is a problem, but something more might be reflected in this survey.

  31. Again, these days, I am not at all surprised.

  32. midwestlady says:

    No committee. The parishes need to set up classes for adults and expect that parishioners will attend them as part of their membership.

    I have to tell you that times have changed. Many Catholics who are serious about their faith are glad to attend things like these. Recently in my diocese we did one of these video programs and they expected about 30 people to show up, but over 200 did. Yes, over 200. And they stayed for the whole 8 weeks! People are tired of parishes that are once a week affairs.

  33. Cannot a person with Celiac Disease accept a small piece broken from the host? Is it
    illicit for a priest to offer this option, off the cuff, then consume the large remainder

    Just posing a thought.

  34. midwestlady says:

    Also, this is the perfect way for a deacon to participate in the life of the parish. We need deacons to help set up and monitor these programs. I know that the place of a deacon has been discussed many times on this blog. This is what we really need in the Church at this time.

  35. That is semantic hair-splitting: in this case “ours” is in fact more inclusive, as in: the Faith which is all of ours. And we all could use a refresher course.

  36. midwestlady says:

    Okay, IntoTheWest,
    You tell me. What is Catholicism?

  37. IntoTheWest says:

    We don’t have “membership”. This isn’t some storefront fundie church somewhere. Catholicism does not require that baptised Catholics attend extracurricular parish activities in order to remain Catholic.

    For someone who can’t wait to tell the rest of us how poorly catechised we are, you really don’t know much about Catholicism yourself.

  38. IntoTheWest says:

    The Truth.

  39. midwestlady says:

    I’m sorry that your family has some celiac issues, but that’s not a reason to draw the kind of “no dogma” conclusion that you have drawn. The one is not a reason for the other. If a person has a problem, they need to problem-solve and not blame others, especially with a 9-inch wide brush.

  40. midwestlady says:


    Whether you like it or not you do, in fact, have a membership. There are many people who are not Catholic and, in fact, would be VERY offended if you called them Catholics. I know there’s a romantic notion among some Catholics that somehow everyone is Catholic, and that’s demonstrable nonsense. Not everyone is.

    This fluffy notion that everyone is really Catholic whether they know it or not, is the root of some persistent problems with identity and commitment in the Church. If everyone is Catholic, then no one is Catholic, in a sense. The term loses all of its meaning. It becomes equally Catholic to attend Mass or not because more people don’t than do; it becomes equally Catholic to have an abortion or not because many people do these things; it becomes equally Catholic to hate the Church or not, because many people do that too.

    Not only that, but there really is a difference between the secular world and the Catholic world, IntoTheWest. We are called to bring the Catholic way of doing things into the secular world, not the other way around.

  41. midwestlady says:

    Superficial, IntoTheWest. If someone tells you that he knows the truth, then he’s automatically Catholic, even if he’s a Buddhist and says he’s not Catholic at all, according to that description.

  42. Deacon Greg Kandra says:


    Have you checked out this link?

    We have used these hosts in my parish, with much success. There is also the option of receiving only the Precious Blood.


  43. midwestlady says:

    I used to teach high school, and trust me, the statistic about the civil war is probably correct. There are people who can’t find the USA on a globe. They’re not uncommon and they have driver’s licenses.

  44. Deacon Steve says:

    This yet another reason that offering Communion under both species is a good idea. If the parish does not have approved gluten free wheat hosts, then the person with Celiac’s disease can receive the Precious Blood from the cup. They have received the fullness of the Eucharist. I have had only limited experience with someone needing gluten free hosts, and the one time it came up we did not have the gluten free hosts, but we made the cup available to them so they could receive. I was taken aback by how upset they were that we did not have them available at a mass for our Scout retreat. They made no effort to contact me as the Chaplain to let us know ahead of time it was needed. I could have gotten them from a local parish that I know has them if they had let me know more than 5 min before mass started at a park. The gluten free hosts that I have seen used do not keep well long term so unless there is a known need, many parishes don’t just keep them. With notice it is an easy issue to address.

  45. midwestlady says:

    They can receive the blood of Christ and this is regularly done. The Church teaches that the entire body of Christ is contained in either species.

    We have this accommodate for a few people in my diocese. You just speak to the priest outside mass and make arrangements to get in the line where they expect you to be.

  46. IntoTheWest says:

    Um, I’m talking about baptised Catholics. Not “everyone”.

    We are baptised Catholics and we remain Catholics (except in some extreme cases where individuals knowingly apostasize themselves) regardless of how many parish events we attend.

    I suggest you educate yourself regarding the Sacraments and the Eucharist, not surveys and classes and who shows up how many times, etc.

  47. Deacon Steve says:

    For some Celiacs even a small amount is enough to cause them severe problems. The best option is for them to let the parish know and work with the parish to get the gluten free hosts that are approved for use. If this isn’t possible then they should be given the opportunity to receive the Precious Blood from the cup so they can recieve Holy Communion.

  48. IntoTheWest says:

    The _T_ruth. Capital “T” Truth. Not the truth. The Truth.

  49. A couple of months ago, on a politics blog that I participate in, there was a discussion of Mormonism vis-a-vis Romney’s candidacy. One member, whom I would describe as 60ish, went to the occasional protestant church service as a child but not as an adult, expressed surprise that Christians believe that Jesus is God. All sorts of other participants of all varieties of Christianity — Catholics, Presbyterians, Lutherans, Methodists, Big-Box Evangelicals — all chimed in, shocked, that she didn’t know this, and quoted the Nicene Creed — “One in Being with the Father” — and how they recited it every week at their various worship services of their childhoods.

    It occurred to me that my children are the last generation of English-speaking Catholics who will have heard that Jesus is “One in Being with the Father”.

  50. Barbara P. says:

    I was educated in Catholic schools from the middle 60′s through 1980. I was taught real content. I was also taught love of God and neighbor. I was taught about relationship with Jesus. I was taught about my Catholic faith and I was taught to love my faith. Please do not generalize about things you did not experience.

  51. midwestlady says:

    So basically, IntoTheWest, all a person has to do is get baptized and show up at mass once a week, and that’s their ticket to heaven, right? They can be as ignorant as a rock about the faith and it doesn’t matter. That’s all there is too it.

    In fact, they can even refuse to take any classes because that way, they can’t find out that anything they’re doing is wrong. And as all of us Catholics know, if you don’t know it’s wrong it’s not a sin, correct?

  52. Jeepers. I wish there were “robust catechesis” around here. I’m 48, almost 49. I can count on one hand the times I heard a homily about some solid teaching of the church. Mostly they are weak calls to live our faith. Now, there’s nothing wrong with that. But why can’t priests incorporate some catechesis in the homily? Isn’t that what they are supposed to be doing? Instead we get, as my sister-in-law calls them, “vague homilies about vagueness”.

    I get my catechesis from Catholic radio. No use trying to get it in church.

  53. midwestlady says:

    Ohhhh, well then, the Buddhist who says he has the truth isn’t Catholic because he doesn’t have the T_ruth. And who decides which version is the T_ruth and not the truth? You?

  54. Barbara P. says:

    Children usually do not receive from the Cup. I wouldnt let my children receive under this form because they had never had wine and I was not sure what their reaction would be to the taste.

  55. midwestlady says:

    I’ve been Catholic for 26+ years and I’ve attended Catholic parishes in all the neighborhoods where I’ve lived. I used to teach in a Catholic school and I know what they teach and don’t teach. I’ve been on RCIA teams too.

  56. midwestlady:
    Please refrain from ad hominem comments and judgements like “It seems like you’re looking for a reason for something. Are you?”

    You break the chain of good will engendered by the blogger and commenters on the Deacon’s Bench.

  57. IntoTheWest says:

    Nope. Never said that.

    But, by the same token, a baptised Catholic can attend every parish event, order every Catholic teaching series, memorize the CCC backwards and forwards and in fifteen different languages and not be guaranteed an express trip to heaven, either.

    Of course, even those ignorant as a rock about the Catholic faith may be welcomed into heaven. ;~)

  58. IntoTheWest says:

    You sure you read the CCC…? :~D

  59. IntoTheWest says:

    You taught in ALL the Catholic schools…? All of them…?

    Anyway, I’ve been Catholic for 51+ plus years, was also educated from the 60s through the 80s and my experience is similar to Barbara’s.

    You seem to be projecting your experiences and prejudices on everyone, and judging accordingly.

    I’m sure you can tell us all how that jibes with Catholic teaching, though. :-D

  60. midwestlady says:

    Do you like the way things are now? I mean do you think it’s okay if more than half of Catholics don’t show up for mass?

    And I meant what I said about being baptized and showing up for mass being a ticket to heaven? Do you think that’s all there is to it?

  61. IntoTheWest says:

    I answered that already.

    You still haven’t explained how it’s in keeping with Catholic teaching to make sweeping, generalized condemnations of your fellow Catholics based on your limited experiences.

  62. midwestlady says:

    I did. All the way through.

    And yes, the church is the one who decides what the truth is. Not you, not me, not some guy in the street.

    And there’s no reason to insult the Buddhist in the example. He is not, in fact, Catholic. There are many people who aren’t Catholic.

  63. IntoTheWest says:


    I’m insulting the Buddhist in YOUR example? Of course he isn’t Catholic. Of course many people aren’t Catholic.

    Not one single person here has even intimated that “everyone” is automatically Catholic somehow. No one. Nor have I or anyone else in these comboxes suggested we ourselves get to decide what is the truth. Those are strawmen of your making.

    So tell me, then, do you understand the difference between capital “T” Truth and small “t” truth or not?

  64. midwestlady says:

    I’ve been Catholic more than a quarter of a century now. And some Catholics diss converts, I’m sorry to say. We’re apparently not part of the hereditary club.

    At any rate, people don’t like to receive news that runs contrary to their fables. Yes, the Church is in catechetical trouble and has been for some time. I applaud the bishop of Camden for facing the problem and having the survey done. Things like this are being done far more frequently now and this is a good thing. It’s the only way things are going to get better.

    Now to formulate an educational method to deal with the problem that they’ve identified.

  65. I hope there are more details than reported about the bishops response. I mean, banning youth sports on Sunday mornings is the proverbial band aid being used on a gaping wound. This appears to be much more about poor cathechesis than anything else. My personal experience as a 7th grade CCD teacher has been enlightening. I am amazed at how little these young people know about the major tenents of the faith. There is a systemic failure within our Church that has now stretched across at least two generations. Most of the kids who I teach receive no further instruction at home and a significant number do not attend Mass nor the other Sacraments. Unfortunately, at least in our CCD program, we have almost become babysitters as we try to cover relevant material once a week for an hour and a half. My Deacon actually said we probably should scrap the CCD program for our youth and focus resources on the lost generation of their parents. Not sure how practical that is? Alternatively, maybe the Sunday sermons need to focus on basic tenents? I don’t know but with surveys like this, the bishops need to take notice and make a plan.

  66. IntoTheWest says:

    And converts never dis cradle Catholics, right? Like saying all of us cradle Catholics have been poorly catechised since the 60s, even though you have absolutely no idea what any one of our catechesis involved, right?

    And now our Catholicism, our faith, it’s all just a “fable”, according to you, because you know everything about everyone and you are here to set us all straight.

    It’s amazing the Catholic Church has managed to muddle along for the past 2000+ years without you.

  67. midwestlady says:

    I think the recently published statistics about the number of ex-Catholics in the USA might have spurred some concern about the number of people leaving the Church. I’m referring to the recently published Pew Report that found that a little more than 10% of the American population are ex-Catholics. Catholics are the largest denomination now and ex-Catholics are the 2nd largest and gaining. This is a serious problem.

  68. midwestlady says:

    And perhaps this is why we’re paying more attention to surveys these days, a good thing. We can’t and shouldn’t even try to change what we teach as a result of how we’re doing. But we should adjust our methods of teaching it to make ourselves more successful. Big difference between the two ideas.

  69. If you really think that celiac children should be denied communion because they are too young to drink wine, then you should get over it.

    I’m actually rather startled by this — in all of the parishes that I have been in over the last 25 years or so First Communion has been given to children under both species. Yes, that’s probably the last time most received from the cup until they were much older, but a celiac child would have quite simply received under only one species and few people would have even noticed.

    A more serious problem is that wine frequently contains trace amounts of gluten in it, because flour is used to feed yeast before it is added to the wine. So some reading of the fine print on the wine bottle label is in order to ensure a gluten-free species.

  70. Many people here seem to assume this demonstrates some sort of catechetical decline. But there is no evidence that Catholics before Vatican II had a more accurate understanding of the nature of sin and humanity. I think we can suspect. In fact, it may be likely. But likelihood is not proof. The same is true of Catholic so-called lack of belief in the Real Presence.

    What this does demonstrate is that a focus on adult catechesis should probably be emphasized over the catechesis of children and youth. We can all agree that we see is a level of theological understanding that is below our current standards. Clearly, some Catholics have a confused understanding of the nature of sin–that it is not “natural” for a human being to sin. Perhaps Catholic overemphasis on sin is why people have a poor understanding here.

  71. @Cathy D.
    “I wish there were “robust catechesis” around here. I’m 48, almost 49. I can count on one hand the times I heard a homily about some solid teaching of the church…”

    That is a really good point. Why don’t we use the homily for catechesis? It may be redundant to some, but I’m not saying it should be at every mass, just every once in a while.

  72. Back when I was in college I had a friend who made this claim about the Baltimore Catechism: he said that the strategy was to make every Catholic school child in America memorize a graduate-level theology textbook. This would be buried in their minds like a land mine, and then when it was needed in adulthood it would explode into their brains! Because one eternal truth is that you were never going to get more than a tiny sliver of adults to come to your adult religious education, so you better get ‘em while you got ‘em as kids.

    Well, I can tell you that it may have been a clever scheme, but didn’t really work that well…

  73. I’m sorry to say that this is the result of what I call the “tyranny of the homily”. After Vatican II the “sermon” was abandoned for the “homily”. As I understand it, the distinction was between the sermon, which often focused on a tenet of the faith of the church, and the homily, which was supposed to focus on explaining the scriptures and their application to daily life. Fair enough. Presumably the Council fathers assumed that elements of the belief of the church would be explained within the homily, drawing from the Scriptures on which the beliefs are based. But now we’ve had nearly 50 years of homilies and it hasn’t been a success. A fairly large portion of Catholics haven’t a clue about the core beliefs of the Church, let alone about manifesting them in daily life. It’s become mere blah, blah, blah. Many people are hungry to find out what the church actually believes, hence the enormous reaction in my parish to recent showings of Fr. Barron’s “Catholicism” series. He actually talks (and talks well) about things that people want to know. Unfortunately, too many people have glazed over and drifted away over those 50 years and it will be tough to call them back. It’s possible, though.

    I recently told a priest friend about the reaction I had seen to a “sermon” he had recently done. I happened to be a minister of Holy Communion, sitting behind him, to the side of the sanctuary, when he launched into an impassioned sermon on the Eucharist and I could see the reaction of the congregation. Prepared for the usual snooze, they had already settled down when he began and I could see that, one by one, they began to wake up, to literally “prick up their ears”, lifting their heads, shifting positions. It was very interesting to watch. Now, if that effect could just be reproduced that every week, all year long………

    Sadly too, it has to be done in the context of the Sunday Mass. People may want information, but they are not exactly willing to go out of their way to get it. I have a good friend who is constantly complaining that when she gets together with a set of friends that are mostly non-Catholic she is often at a loss on how to answer their questions, comments and objections to their understanding of Catholic teachings. It makes her angry that she doesn’t know the answers. BUT, if I suggest that she read the Cathechism or watch a program on EWTN or NET, she says it’s too much trouble or will take too much time. She expects to hear this stuff in church. In my experience that’ll be a long time coming.

  74. Camden has voted overwhelmingly Democrat (67%)for the past 20 years. It is no wonder that they are leaving the Church.

    “The southwestern portion, including Camden and Cherry Hill, is also heavily Democratic.”

    Being a Democrat and supporting their social policy platforms is inconsistent with Catholic teaching. Abortion, gay marriage, married priests, female altar servers, euthanasia, are all corner stones of ‘progressive’ Catholics.

    The ‘don’t judge my behavior’ crowd does not like rules that reflect negatively on their lifestyle.

  75. I’m going to assume that you are younger than I am. I’m in the early 60s so I have a pretty good recollection of what the church was like before Vatican II and I can assure you that there was, at least in the US and in my parents home country of Ireland, a very good understanding of the Real Presence. However, subesequent “modernization” and lack of cathchesis did a lot to undermine that belief. People’s belief isn’t completely a result of book learning either and I think this was something that wasn’t so clearly seen at the time of Vatican II. Ritual and liturgy play a large part in how people perceive things. And there was a big deflation in some of that in the years following Vatican II. How you handle something makes a difference in how people perceive the reality behind it. In the natural world, a simile could be found in the diamong. Uncut, it’s just a somewhat cloudy translucent peeble. Treated respectfully by an expert cutter, it becomes a precious jewel.

  76. midwestlady says:

    To some extent, Todd, you may be right about some things. Before Vatican II, people tended to think of religious commitment in terms of “dos” and “don’ts,” rules and regulations and sometimes not much deeper. The whole of Western culture was like that to some degree circa 1960. And what people didn’t know they might simply have hidden which was pretty easy in those days. In fact, there is quite a bit of phenomenological evidence that this was the case, in the form of the explosion that took place after Vatican II, which could not have happened without the readiness of the population within the Church.

    On the other hand, people were told during those same years that facts didn’t matter any more, and that feelings, perceptions and experiences were more important. This, of course, has taken a huge toll on the Church’s teaching, since now things that are not proximal jolts such as heaven, hell and salvation–things that are the bedrock of Catholic teaching–are not regarded as pertinent simply because they’re not proximal, experiential.

    Our percentages of people leaving the Church have skyrocketed since Vatican II also. People are more open about their intentions and feelings now, and some just overcome the inertia and walk, their families not able to constrain them in any real way most of the time, if they even care. 10% of the American population is ex-Catholic now, according to the 2009 Pew Religion Survey.

  77. midwestlady says:

    Correct. Educational research says that learning that isn’t updated on a regular basis is forgotten. Religious learning is no different in this regard than other learning.

    There is no such thing has “planting a land mine” like that. Un-assimilated knowledge is lost rather rapidly with time. Assimilated knowledge decays over time too, albeit somewhat more slowly, unless added to on a regular basis. If you’re not learning, you’re losing knowledge. There is no “treading water.” There is a lot of scholarship on this and this much is known.

  78. midwestlady says:

    Yes, the emphasis shifted at Vatican II, and this is the result of that trend. Before Vatican II, people were taught facts and morals by repetition, which was the way society worked in general in 1960, if you want to know the truth. The problem with that, of course, is that a few people get the ideas behind the facts, but a considerable number of people don’t.

    After Vatican II, the emphasis was supposed to be on the ideas “behind the facts” but of course, you can’t understand those unless you know the facts in the first place. And so, we have an emphasis on our feelings, perceptions and experiences and a general resistance to facts of salvation history and doctrine.

    What was (and is) really needed was more time, effort and expense focused on understanding both levels of knowledge, so that everyone gets at least the facts, and then as many as possible get the further understanding. Unfortunately, this didn’t happen, and it still is not happening except on an individual basis as people seek catechesis on their own, as Cathy D is doing, above.

  79. Several years ago, when The DaVinci Code was popular, I was browsing in my local bookstore and overheard a conversation between two women, one of whom was promoting the book to the other. She said that she recommended it because “I learned so much that I never knew about my religion”! I am assuming that the woman was Catholic. It is troubling that so many Catholics know so little about their religion that they cannot distinguish theology from fiction.

    Another example, more recently… I was speaking with a group of women from my parish when the topic drifted to the sad state of the Church here in the Archdiocese of Boston, where only about 16 percent of Catholics attend Mass. We were discussing some of the reasons for this, when one of them asked me “Well, why do you stay?” I replied that I “stay” because we have the Eucharist and the Mass, and that my “staying” has more to do with Who we worship than with mistakes made by the people “in charge”. One of the women then “corrected” me and told me that “all the Protestant Churches have the Eucharist”. I tried to explain Catholic doctrine on the Eucharist, but she kept insisting that they had “communion” over in the Methodist Church! This woman is a Eucharistic Minister and she teaches religious education. The others in the group seemed to agree with her.

    We clearly have not catechized our own people. We need priests and deacons to address the Real Presence in their homilies. We need to reemphasize to people WHO they are receiving when they approach the Eucharist.

    My pastor’s attitude appears to be laissez faire. If they come to Mass, that’s enough. There is no adult education in our parish, and almost all the activities directed toward children and youth are social. It’s a big happy party, but we are not catechizing them.

  80. Catherine says:

    I’m mystified at what exactly Intothewest is so upset about. Our faith should be the subject of lifelong study, and where better to do that than in our parishes? No one is trying to exclude or judge anyone by saying that we all need to understand the teachings of Christ and His Church better than we do know. The situation in this particular part of my home state sounds pretty dire. I hope that the bishop in south Jersey will initiate study programs, and that people will take advantage of them. There are many good resources available to those who wish to study the faith. One is the Catherine of Sienna Institute, which focuses on the formation of lay Catholics:

  81. Deacon Steve says:

    The Baltimore Catechism was not graduate level theology. It was a defensive document aimed at a 6th grade level of understanding. It was conceived as a response to the major protestant attacks against Catholics. I know many people that memorized the answers to the questions, but couldn’t explain beyond what they had memorized. That is not true catechesis. Wrote memorization of questions does not impart understanding. We need good solid catechesis that builds from a young age into adulthood.

  82. midwestlady says:

    BTW, an increasing number of people are seeking catechesis on their own from authorized sources, and this is really commendable. They do the church a huge service by taking the time to know the facts and understand what they mean in the context of living out a Christian life.

  83. Catherine says:

    I’ve been Catholic for almost 60 years, and my experience has been similar to that of Midwestlady. I had excellent Catholic education up until the late 60s. After that, things went downhill rapidly. Luckily, when I was a young adult, I made friends who were interested in learning more about Catholicism, and discussing what we learned. One friend — a Protestant who was studying theology at Catholic U — made a reading list for me, and took me to an excellent secondhand bookstore to help me find some of the books. But the actual religion classes I had in Catholic highschool and college were really dire. Thank goodness I didn’t stop my learning then.

  84. Catherine says:

    Yes, good for your archdiocese!

  85. IntoTheWest says:

    Thank you for proving my point that one cannot make blanket claims about other people’s catechesis! :) My experiences in the 70s and 80s was not the same as yours. Of course, I went to a very small, exclusive, conservative Catholic convent school and then on to a conservative Catholic college. I understand that not everyone has that experience.

  86. I remain a skeptic on blaming Vatican II. It would be my contention that Vatican II was not implemented as fully or as vigorously as it needed to be.

    I think the Catholic emphasis on youth and child catechesis has done us poorly. Parents delegate catechesis to teachers–not a bad thing, but not enough in a post-WWII world that has lost the underpinnings of Catholic culture that once supported it.

    With respect to my newsman friend and blog-host, I would ask what adult catechetical content is offered here on this blog, other than his homilies? Consider the most well-regarded Catholic bloggers, the ones with the biggest hit counts. What drives those hit counts? Posts on Vatican II? The General Directory for Catechesis? The catechism? Hardly. It’s all about politics. Secular politics and Church politics and what bad people those gays, bishops, Democrats, child abusers, and black sheep are.

    And for readers and commenters, ask yourselves: do you visit blogs to learn about Mark’s Gospel or the GIRM? Or do you relish the lively discussions about who’s doing what and why the other person is wrong, wrong, wrong.

    “To some extent, Todd, you may be right about some things …”

    Thank you for the compliment. But I also put my effort where my mouth is. I have well over two-thousand posts on my site treating the documents of Vatican II, the liturgical teaching of the Catholic Church, and other catechetical items of interest for adults. They don’t get nearly the traffic and attention that wedding readings or my liberal commentary on politics or Church news gets.

    Concerned about the state of catechesis? I share it. Looking for someone to blame for it? Have you considered someone other than the usual suspects?

  87. midwestlady says:

    This is correct. In order to know something it’s not enough just to memorize a blurb. It’s also not possible to understand the meaning behind a fact, if you don’t know the fact in the first place. Both types of learning are necessary to say one understands something, ie knows it to some degree.

    In order to do these we have to start basic and then build on that over time. It takes a long time, so starting in childhood and working to young adulthood is good for the intensive phase. But it is necessary, even in maturity, to keep updating knowledge because again, not learning is losing knowledge. Knowledge, and even understanding, has a decay rate if it’s not being renewed by a) practice or application and b) mental elaboration or addition.

  88. Catherine says:

    I’m old enough to remember the days when Catholic schoolchildren memorized the Baltimore Catechism, and I would go back to those days like a shot. I can still remember the basic truths we learned. We were well and carefully taught. There is plenty of educational research that demonstrates the value of having small children memorize things that they may not understand perfectly until they are older. You are not planting a landmine in their brains — you are building a foundation. The brain is capable of different kinds of learning at different ages. The Church has understood this for a long time — hence the medieval emphasis on the stages of learning, grammar, logic and rhetoric. Read Dorothy Sayers on this subject:

  89. And alas, people are also seeking catechesis from internet personalities. Far less commendable in some cases.

  90. IntoTheWest says:

    ” What is needed is real parish education, where members of the parish are expected to attend events in order to be considered members in good standing by the other parish members.” ~midwestlady

    This quote is what I’m taking exception to. The notion that Catholics should be required to meet the standards of an elite group of fellow parishioners in order to be considered “members in good standing”.

    Midwestlady is absolutely trying to exclude those who would not meet those standards from “membership” .

    This is in direct opposition to Catholic teaching.

    Pursuing study is commendable. However, suggesting that a parishioner is to be judged on the number of parish events he or she is able to attend, and then allowed in or not according to another layperson’s judgment, is not commendable at all.

    Frankly, the biggest problem with catechesis today is the number of lay people who assume authority they do not have.

  91. Catherine says:

    I was taught by an excellent, orthodox order of nuns all through grammar and highschool, and attended a fairly conservative Catholic university with a fine reputation. It was the textbooks prescribed by the diocese that ruined highschool religion for me, and by the time I got to college, I avoided theology classes on the theory that it would be more of the same. We had to fulfill quite a few theology credits to graduate, and I was able to take history courses on the Reformation and similar subjects to fulfill them.

  92. midwestlady says:

    I guess I don’t focus on Vatican II as much as you do, Todd. It’s just one event in the Church, albeit a important and fairly recent one. I do have a lot of experience in the classroom and a lot of background in epistemology and educational pedagogy. The issue is not so much the content, which face it, hasn’t changed so much, because it’s still Catholic theology; rather, it’s the approach which must be more balanced to enable people to get the content properly.

    We can’t make the content into the method, or the opposite, the method into the content. These extremes have sometimes happened and when they happen, it results in a hodgepodge in every case, whether you’re teaching algebra or grammar or religion.

  93. IntoTheWest says:

    I hear an echo… :)

  94. midwestlady says:

    Yeah, well, they’re doing the best they can. If there are no programs at the parish and they’re starving for information, they’re going to get it any way they can.

  95. IntoTheWest says:

    Well, if that was the case, where were your parents…? My parents would never have put up with any such nonsense, thankfully, nor would the parents of the other young women at my prep. school or college.

    Like I said, just goes to show you can’t judge an entire generation’s catechesis on your own experiences!

  96. IntoTheWest says:

    Also, theology classes were required at the college level for people of our generation who attended Catholic universities and colleges, especially the conservative ones. How on earth did you avoid them?

  97. Wow. Our diocese has a policy of no-sports on Sunday at any time of day. That includes practices, not just games. It’s not new, either — been that way for about 10 years.

  98. midwestlady says:

    What you’re getting at is that there are levels of knowledge that are particularly appropriate for different age levels of people, and this is also true. You wouldn’t think of trying to teach trig to an average 3rd grader, because you know they have to learn arithmetic first and they’re not ready. But this is not a bad thing, it’s appropriate, because if they don’t learn the arithmetic first, they won’t learn trig later when they are ready. Everything should come at its right time for this to work best.

    Not only that but people are not static observers when they learn. By that I mean they “sip” from the things they know in order to enable the learning of new things on top of the things they know. At the same time, they go back and elaborate those basic things in light of the new things, and the old things get more robust with that process. Time, repetition and various types of practice are really important because they facilitate these processes.

    So there’s really nothing “lower in status” about learning basics. They’re part of the process in the context of the whole thing, just like the elaboration on basics, ie learning the concepts, is later. It’s all good, but it has to be done in the right order and completely which takes some time, effort and expense.

  99. IntoTheWest says:

    I’ve lived on both coasts and in Chicago, raised kids in all areas, and the diocese never scheduled any school extracurriculars, including sports, on Sundays, and I don’t recall the local town sports groups ever scheduling anything on Sundays, either.

    OTOH, Camden is a depressed area with a lot of underprivileged kids, so maybe there were some programs held on Sunday to give the kids a place to go, which is not necessarily a bad thing.

  100. I’m not convinced they’re doing the best they can. I think many busy or distracted people are looking for answers to the questions that arise as they drift through life. Speaking from the parish staff perspective, parishes offer quite a lot. People don’t show up, and they don’t seem to care.

  101. midwestlady says:

    IntoTheWest, you said, “then allowed in or not” ?? In or not what?

    Parishes should have educational programs for adults. These would be educational programs especially geared for adults in the parish, run by someone (and I suggested a deacon as an organizer for parishes that have one, they’re ordained). And adults who attend these classes would get to know each other and identify each other as fellow Catholics interested in learning. I’m talking about support, knowledge and fellowship here. I’m not talking about locking anybody out of anything, IntoTheWest. I am talking about expectations that people who care about their faith will a) continue to learn about it, b) participate in their parishes, c) get to know other people in their parishes and form parish community around the catechetical efforts.

    You also said, “Frankly, the biggest problem with catechesis today is the number of lay people who assume authority they do not have.” Hmmm. I think that people need catechesis and it’s the pastor’s job to regulate what happens in the parish. If it’s okay with him and the bishop, what’s the problem? Besides, we have had many conversations in here about the purpose and apostolates of deacons and I think this is a perfect fit for a deacon.

    We have a great deacon here who works for the diocese and he oversees adult catechesis efforts in this diocese. Before he was ordained, he was a high school teacher and he’s terrific because he knows what he’s doing. It’s too bad it’s not moral to clone him. ;)

  102. That’s just my point, if they don’t hear it at Mass they won’t hear it because they won’t show up at most of what the parish offers.

  103. midwestlady says:

    I don’t agree that people aren’t trying, and there are many entries on this thread that talk about efforts and interest. Some people clearly are trying to do the best they can. There simply are not enough programs available for people.

    I also think there are many distracted and busy people who are Catholic; most of us have to make a living. People in charge of catechesis in parishes have to create something both useful and effective. This is the task. The parishes need to learn to rise to the occasion and fulfill the task.

  104. midwestlady says:

    Yes, Maggie, that’s a habit. But things are changing somewhat. We recently have been getting rooms full of people for programs like Fr. Barron’s Catholicism. They’re enthusiastic too because the program is very good, very meaty, and encourages community. They expected 30 people and got 200 in one of the parishes here. They had to move the class to a cafeteria, scrounge up chairs and get more facilitators but they went with it. The people came back for the whole 8 weeks.

    People learned some of their faith, got many questions answered, made friends in the faith, all kinds of good things. It’s really worth it if your parish can do this.

  105. Oregon Catholic says:

    It’s called an attitude of entitlement. The person needing the accomodation expects everyone else to do the work of accomodating them, not that they bear the responsibility of planning and looking out for their own needs.

    While a scant few people may be seriously intolerant of gluten, the vast majority are not and make far too much over receiving a little gluten in a host. They also have the option of asking the priest to break off a small piece. I know it’s not PC to say so, but celiac disease has become for some the ‘disability’ du jour. I have known a number of so-called celiac sufferers who made a big deal over their diagnosis only to give up the diet in a few months when it got too difficult to stick to.

  106. Maggie Duffy:

    (I though I posted this reply before but perhaps I did not click Post Comment)

    You wrote:
    ” Vatican II the “sermon” was abandoned for the “homily”. As I understand it, the distinction was between the sermon, which often focused on a tenet of the faith of the church, and the homily, which was supposed to focus on explaining the scriptures and their application to daily life.”

    A homily, which breaks open the Word is what that part of the Liturgy of the Word is supposed to be. You may want to look up some of St. Augustine’s homilies. They are gems, very scriptural. But, then again, it is said that he had memorized practically the entire Bible.

    By the way, I love your website, Ad Imaginem Dei. When I taught Church History, I used many of the great works of art from our Catholic tradition.

  107. 1. He called Gentiles “dogs”
    2. He started a violent incident with a whip in the temple.
    3. He called his mother ‘woman’ and disowned her ‘woman, what is there between me and you?’
    4. He taught parents to ‘hate’ their children.
    5. He lied and said ‘I go not up to the feast’ and then went in secret.
    6. He hung out in the temple knowing his parents would be worried about him, and didn’t care.

    He sinned at least 6 times. Its not ‘orthodox’ to admit it. But I guess what’s ‘wrong’ with these Christian who admit it is they are more HONEST than the ‘orthodox’.

  108. kenneth says:

    You’re seeing trends like these because the vast majority of modern Catholics aren’t in it by free and fully informed choice. They’re Catholic because of cultural inertia and because of a baptism/confirmation process that’s about “locking in” as many people as possible at as young an age as possible. People are “made” Catholic for life by nothing more than a splash of water before they’re even old enough to speak or walk.
    Confirmation is supposed to be a fully informed adult choice of the religion, but that is a farce in every way. 13-year-old kids are presumed “adults” for this purpose at an age when they have absolutely none of the tools with which to make a serious spiritual undertaking. Many go through the motions to satisfy parents and grandparents, and if they have no investment in it, why would it surprise anyone if they turn out to be ignorant and/or un-enthusiastic members when they reach real adulthood?

  109. midwestlady says:


    Some of that may have been true at one point in time, but I’m not so sure it is now. I think most people in the Church are at least willing members, and that’s why they don’t walk away since it’s so easy to do now.

    You can kind of get a picture of what’s going on by looking at mass attendance numbers, though. In the USA, 42% of Catholic adults attend mass weekly according to the Pew Report (2009). So, we clearly do have quite a few members who don’t seem to be very committed to the practice of Catholicism based on those statistics.

    So I don’t know what part the practice of infant baptism and confirmation plays in this.

  110. midwestlady says:

    Cara, at Georgetown, has statistics that are even lower.

  111. midwestlady says:

    Just out of curiosity, why would a kid attend CCD class if he didn’t go to Church on Sunday or receive any other sacraments?

  112. What a bunch of non sequiturs based upon a prejudice against Democrats.

  113. Barbara P says:

    I wasn’t dissing you as a convert I was objecting to your judgment and criticism and your general denuncuation of a generation of Catholic students and their teachers who worked for very little money to pass on the faith. I am not sure of what you were taught or experienced but my Catholic teachers worked hard to pass on the faith to us. The problem today is not that people do not know the rules it is because the noise of the world drowns out the message of God’s love for His people. The more we add to the noise the less people will hear and their hearts will become more hardened.

  114. Barbara P says:

    You misunderstood me. I think celiac children should be given gluten free hosts. The solution isn’t for them to receive from the Cup because they are not familiar with the taste of wine.

  115. pagansister says:

    Sounds like the Catholics in Jersey have better things to do than go to Mass —-maybe they go on Christmas and Easter—thus they can continue to call themselves Catholic. Oh, maybe they get their children baptized too—just to cover their bases–then stop going to Mass except special occasions!

  116. Deacon Greg:

    Camden is my home diocese so I find this of particular interest.

    In 120 comments so far and counting – I would have hoped that one person would have written- “well give the diocese some props for actually asking questions -especially of those who have left or who are unchurched and sharing the answers publicly” I am sure it would be easier for Galante to look around at mass and be sure that everyone who matters thinks like him.

    The 100 page report is on the diocese’s website if anyone is interested in facts and not rumor and broad based denunciations based on a trip to the jersey shore or smug Camden Diocese’s is dying pronouncements.

    For the record my home parish in this diocese

    has five robust well attended masses per weekend
    has faith formation at every level– ccd to youth ministries to young adult and beyond
    is not dying

    the full report is at

    For those who are certain the same data would not be true in your home diocese- please spare me the holier then thou pontifications and just provide a link the similar independent survey.

  117. IntoTheWest says:

    Or not allowed in.

    No one said anything’s wrong with parishes holding speaking events, or classes for adults, or whathaveyou, and of course it’s up to bishops and pastors to regulate these matters for their parishes.

    It is not, however, up to other parishioners to decide who meets their personal standard of “membership”. That is not part of Catholic parish life, or theology, or the catechism.

    How did this turn into a conversation about Deacon Greg Kandra? It’s about your position that all the the “other” Catholics out their need to attend X number of events in order to meet one group of parishioners’ standards for membership.

    You chose those words. You, the oh-so-perfectly-catechised-one, specifically chose those words. You have yet to explain exactly how they fit in with Catholic teaching. You’ve back pedaled, and you’ve tried to change the subject, and you’ve sucked up to the blog author, but you have yet to explain how Catholic teaching calls for individual parishioners to meet some sort of test or set of standards set by other individual parishioners in order to remain “members in good standing”.

  118. midwestlady says:

    I had a look at it. This is an excellent detailed survey. As I said before, I applaud your bishop for wanting to know the facts. This will help them to tailor programs to better serve the real needs of the Church. Very good. I wish more dioceses would do this.

  119. Regina Faighes says:

    Exactly right on all points, Cathy J.

  120. Well, I focus on my area of expertise. I don’t see Vatican II or the teachings that have emerged or re-presented since as a problem.

    Agreement with you on the need for skill in being a catechist; it’s what the GDC says too. Just curious: have you ever read anything on my site, or participated in the discussions there?

  121. LoneThinker says:

    The Good News about Catholic schools is they offered the opportunity to form the three levels of education in the Faith. The Bad News is that we did not adopt the common sense idea that we grow intellectually and morally and spiritually and emotionally so the process is lifetime, not over at confirmation in junior high or sixth grade. That was more tragic after the Second Vatican Council, now no longer “new” but 50-years ago. I know there have been several programmes offered in various dioceses but how many did they reach and what zeal was behind them at the pastoral level. I saw Chancery offices dishing out pages and pages of material and I also experienced the old ( since abandoned, one hopes) “What do you think” School of Shared Ignorance Inc. When I taught I offered time for questions after the break and let them know about my Shared Ignorance concept.

  122. Catherine says:

    Intothewest, your remark about my late parents was totally uncalled for, as is the sarcastic, belittling tone you have adopted throughout this thread.

  123. I accept on faith that Jesus was sinless. However these scripture passages which Rey refers to have always troubled me. I wonder if they factor into the answers that the people polled gave. I think we shouldn’t just assume they were too ignorant to know any better. Perhaps someone who is a scripture expert could do a better job of exegesis (or is it hermenuetics?) to clarify these.

  124. Romulus says:

    I am a cradle Catholic, educated in the 60s and 70s. Through my own experience and that of close family members and friends who teach in Catholic schools, I have been in touch with Catholic religious ed since the Asteroid hit fifty years ago. Moreover, I catechise adults for my parish. All of my experience suggests that intothewest’s picture of meaty, orthodox religious educationis so rare as to be considered negligible, not to say cartoonish. Cradle Catholics in this country practice the faith either not at all, or else in a reduced cafeteria style. To most it’s no more than moral culture, with perhaps an overlay of improvised sub-ceremonial displays of sentiment and emotion. Professing Catholics are by and large unable to articulate the faith in any coherent, systematic way. It has never been conveyed thus to them, so that in all but exceptional cases they’re unable to pass it on.

  125. Romulus says:

    Confirmation is supposed to be a fully informed adult choice of the religion”

    No it isn’t, notwithstanding common beliefs to the contrary. Confirmation is the second of the three sacraments of Christian initiation. In no sense does it require the informed consent of the recipient.

  126. naturgesetz says:

    There is no showing that any of these were sins.

  127. “On a national level, the bishops conference is also against accommodating the Catholics with this gluten problem. Their solution? Don’t go to communion ! Our “Eucharistic Church” in the US, particularly the Diocese of Camden, advocates avoiding communion in this instance, where a gluten free recipe is available”

    That is an outright lie. Gluten free hosts are readily available and used in many parishes.

  128. IntoTheWest says:

    Yes, because claiming that all Catholics must now attend X number of parish events to be deemed members in good standing by self-appointed “elite” parishioners isn’t belittling at all. Of course not. Or claiming that YOUR experiences are the only experiences out there. That’s not dehumanizing one bit.

  129. IntoTheWest says:

    It’s either “they” and “theirs”, or “we” and “ours”. When it’s “they” and “ours”, you’ve essentially asserted that “they” are not part of “our” faith. That could be an honest mistake, but it might also speak to a mindset that so very clearly, as evidenced by midwestlady’s posts, exists in the Church today.

  130. midwestlady says:

    You must like the status quo. Enjoy it while it lasts.

    Downthread someone posted the report coming out of this Barna study. There are some very interesting results in that report. This data is similar to other data I’ve seen on Catholic demographic behavior. The diocese of Camden was wise to have this study done, and it’s a professional study done by an independent research group. The results are indeed startling.

    We’re heading for a cliff and no one wants to admit it. Something like what happened in Europe during our generation is going to happen here in the next 10-20 years, based on the current behavior of the 28-46 age cohort and the 18-27 age cohort, which present a unified picture of falling practice & commitment, followed by non-affiliation. True to all the other studies I’ve seen, the segment most likely to affiliate, practice, commit and participate are seniors, and when they’re gone these behaviors will be vastly diminished.

    In addition, we have image problems, the chief component of which is still our priestly sex abuse problem. That hasn’t gone away and I believe that it will be a factor in our reputation for a very long time. We have not managed to find a positive factor to dilute its influence to date, and I think we will not because a) it’s difficult to do, and b) clearly we aren’t trying very hard.

    We, as Catholics, are in some kind of inertial funk, and no one wants to admit what’s really happened or what’s about to happen. However, that’s not going to prevent it from happening. The wisest thing we could probably do now is carefully prepare for the day, coming soon, when we will be a distinct minority in American life. We will need to transform into a much more tightly-supportive and practice-intensive organization and we will need to clean up our reputation or we will barely survive in the USA. We have also set ourselves up for some real cultural resistance based not on doctrine, but on behaviors, and we need to stop that.

    It’s also my impression that you come from a Catholic family, have an exclusive and somewhat expensive Catholic education and may still be in a largely Catholic atmosphere. That’s not representative of most Catholics, and it’s certainly not conducive to seeing the position of the Catholic Church as it is, in the contemporary American milieu.

    BTW, we do have a great deacon here. I wasn’t sucking up to the blog-owner. I didn’t used to be in favor of deacons because I’ve seen a few renegades, but this man and one other very holy older deacon have changed my mind. Like anything else, with deacons, there are good ones and not-so-good ones and I can step back and see what they could do for the Church as it is right now, and it’s a good thing.

  131. midwestlady says:

    No, although I’ve stopped by your site, I’ve not participated. I’m simply not interested in rehashing Vatican II from the position of a hermeneutic of rupture. I believe that Vatican II, although recent, was one of 21 non-contradicting Ecumenical councils and must be seen in that context.
    Seen in that context, there were some very good things about Vatican II, but they’re not usually the things that are touted by the real enthusiasts of Vatican II.

  132. midwestlady says:

    “Shared Ignorance,” :D
    Yes, that’s one of the downsides of group discussion teaching methods. There are ways to get around that, and you must get around that. Otherwise, people don’t learn much; rather, they can confirm each others’ errors rather conclusively. This method can be a rather dangerous tool if used unwisely.

  133. IntoTheWest says:

    No. I don’t like the status quo.

    I don’t like your Pharisitical little solution to the status quo, either.

    Yeah. I’m in a real “Catholic” atmosphere. It’s called San Francisco.

    And I’m STILL waiting for your explanation of the quote I pulled yesterday.

    Here’s a refresher: ”What is needed is real parish education, where members of the parish are expected to attend events in order to be considered members in good standing by the other parish members.” ~midwestlady

    Explain to me how having a bunch of brownshirts presiding over their fellow Catholics is the solution to anything? On what day did the Catholic Church become an exclusive organization in which “membership” is determined by an elitist group of lay people?

    You’ve written a lot of self-aggrandizing words here, midwestlady, and you’ve avoided explaining your solution to a complex, many-faceted problem every time you’ve been asked. What’s up with that?

  134. I would be extremely cautious about skepticism on rupture. I know the Holy Father touts continuity as a virtue, but I’m a doubter on that point. And I think the witness of the Scriptures, the saints, and the spiritual life are testimony against it.

    Certainly, human beings cannot live their lives making continual breaks from the past–we would lose perspective. And I can imagine the emotional and spiritual exhaustion.

    However, many of the Twelve left their chosen professions to follow Jesus. Abraham, Moses, Ruth, so many Old Testament figures left old lives behind, a complete rupture from the past in some cases, in order to follow and find God.

    We do not counsel sinners to gradually wean themselves off theft, lying, idolatry, alcoholism, and other sins. And while many people gradually shift to virtue, we have cultural experience to tell us that there is no easy way to kick a bad habit like drinking, smoking, or doing drugs. We have to leap into a new way of living.

    Would you care to elaborate on where my enthusiasm for my area of expertise is lacking?

  135. midwestlady says:

    You stated it in your reply to me, Todd. The Church is one thread from the beginning to now. There was no rupture at Vatican II, and people who tried to manufacture one in order to create a new Church were just wrong, and are still wrong.

    There were many legitimate developments coming out of Vatican II, such as the re-introduction of the permanent diaconate, the simplification of the breviary, the simplification and updating of the governing rules for religious congregations, orders, institutes and societies, and many more.

    But this is the same Church as it always was, with the same doctrines, the same deposit of faith and the same scriptures. None of that changed.

  136. Catherine says:

    Todd, if you are still following this thread, could you please let us know where to find your blog? I tried to find it through a google search, but failed. I did find a couple of your articles about adoption — I am adopted, and so are my children, so I’d like to read more of your thoughts on that and other subjects. Thanks in advance!

  137. Deacon Greg Kandra says:


    Todd’s blog is at this link, and it’s called Catholic Sensibility.


  138. Catherine says:

    Cathy, I’m not sure that the Catholic schools in our area schedule games or practices on Sundays, but many Catholic children (including those who attend parochial schools) take part in the local sports leagues. One of my friends told me that they had to stop attending their preferred Sunday Mass, the 9:00 a.m. “family Mass,” because soccer practice was scheduled for the same time. At the Mass we attend, we see lots of children wearing soccer or other team uniforms, clearly ready to go off for a game or practice. My daughter has no interest in team sports, so we haven’t run into this issue yet, but I think we are about to experience it with our son. I’ve asked other mothers for advice, and they say “try to find a league that does not schedule games or practices on Sundays,” but around here, I don’t think such a league exists, alas.

  139. Catherine says:

    Drake, I have been able to donate quite a few large pieces of furniture from my parents’ house simply by putting an ad on Craigslist under “free items.” I noted that people had to pick up the items if they wanted them, and they did. I even gave away a baby grand piano!

  140. Catherine says:

    Maggie, that is beautifully put. I agree with you on all points.

  141. Catherine says:

    Deacon Greg, thank you for the link to Todd’s blog.
    By the way, this thread has shown me how much I need to learn — I had to google “hermeneutic of rupture”! Now that I’ve read about it a bit, I think I see it the way Midwestlady does, but I’m going to do more reading.

  142. midwestlady says:

    So, IntoTheWest,
    What do you think about “Catholic identity?” What is it? Is it important? Why or why not?

  143. midwestlady says:

    That’s actually not what jumped out at me in Kenneth’s post. What jumped out at me with a scream was the contention that “the vast majority of modern Catholics aren’t in it by free and fully informed choice.” Is this true?

  144. midwestlady says:

    And I should qualify because there are two ways that you can fail to be in something “by free and informed choice.”
    1. For instance everyone has an age because that’s just how things work. I don’t happen to like my age much, but it is what it is. I’m not oppositional about it, I don’t hold a grudge and I don’t think I was snookered into anything without my consent. It just is what it is. Time passes.
    2. But on the other hand, there’s the situation that a person regrets. They think they were snookered or roped into something without their consent.
    So Kenneth, and anyone who cares to comment, is this going on with a fair number of Catholics or not?? It would explain a lot if it is.

  145. IntoTheWest says:

    I’m not one of your kindergartners. And I’m still waiting for your explanation of this:
    ”What is needed is real parish education, where members of the parish are expected to attend events in order to be considered members in good standing by the other parish members.”

  146. Deacon Steve says:

    Barabara there are problems with the gluten free hosts. From what I am told by Sacristans at other parishes they must be stored in a refrigerator to avoid spoiling. They are expensive and if you don’t know which mass the people are coming to, it is not always possible to have them if the priest is not told before hand that they are at the mass. reception of Holy Communion from the cup is a simple way to handle the problem. The children at our parishhave the option to receive under both species when they make their first communion. Taste should not be a reason to avoid the cup if it is the only way to receive Holy Communion.


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