Perhaps you’ve called them “cafeteria Catholics”: those politicians and others who call themselves “Catholic” but who feel it’s within their purview to decide which, among the smorgasbord of Church teachings, fit easily within their personal lifestyle, and which teachings should be disregarded and discarded. Sometimes, especially in political life, you’ve heard them called “CINOs”—Catholics In Name Only.
Bishop George Leo Thomas, bishop of the Diocese of Helena since 2004, has another name for them: Camouflage Catholics.
Bishop Thomas is recently returned from Rome where, on April 26, the prelates from Oregon, Montana and Alaska had their ad limina visit with the Holy Father. The bishop spoke about his visit, and about his vision for evangelization in the Catholic Church in the Helena diocese, with Christopher Wells of Vatican Radio.
“My message, over and over again,” said Bishop Thomas, “is: No more ‘camouflage Catholics’ in our diocese! Mediocrity, the lukewarm spirit, is an enemy of the Church.”
Bishop Thomas praised the Catholics in his diocese, calling the Church in the Northwest “very intentional, very dynamic.” He held out hope that what we are seeing is a new springtime for the Church.
The “new springtime” of evangelization was a recurrent theme during the 27-year papacy of Pope John Paul II. In 1990, he wrote in Redemptoris Missio: “As the third millennium of the redemption draws near, God is preparing a great springtime for Christianity, and we can already see its first signs.” In 1995, the Holy Father addressed the United Nations and again focused on this theme: “The tears of this century,” he said, “have prepared the ground for a new springtime of the human spirit.” And in his 1998 Pentecost address to pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square, Pope John Paul spoke of the Holy Spirit’s bringing “a new springtime in the Church.”
With Bishop Thomas, with Blessed Pope John Paul, let us leave behind the winter of our discontent and embrace a springtime of fidelity to Christ and His Church.