In my experience a great number of Catholics never go to confession at all. This must mean that they do not think they have committed any sins that need forgiveness. This is not rigidity. This is complacency.
In my experience, most priests are not rigid at all. They are a gentle, loving, kind and forgiving bunch. We priests are quick to explain away guilt, soften the sin and overlook the faults. We want to be nice. We want to be loved. We want to give everyone the benefit of the doubt.
In my experience the vast majority of American Catholics are anything BUT rigid. A huge percentage are okay with contraception. A good number think abortion is okay under certain circumstances. Many think same sex marriage is just fine. A lot of Catholic parents approve of their kids living together before marriage but still want them to have a great big Catholic wedding. A lot of American Catholics seem to be perfectly okay with remarriage after divorce.
In my experience, while some Catholics are extremely generous, a good number are not. They don’t tithe. They give to their own pet causes when they want and they don’t seem to have the faintest idea that their faith is about taking up the cross, following Jesus Christ and walking in the way of sanctity. They don’t seem to be any different from their non-Catholic neighbors.
American Catholicism is not in danger of being too harsh, bitter and judgmental. We’re in danger of being too sweet, pliable and self indulgent.
As usual, every argument is theological. We are this way because of the heresy of universalism and semi universalism. These are the sentimental doctrines that everyone will be saved in the end, or if there is a hell that probably there are not very many people there and maybe they will make it to heaven too in the end or maybe God will just let them be snuffed out and cease to exist.
As nice as it is, this is completely unfaithful to the gospel of Jesus Christ and the historic Catholic faith.
I know this rather stands things on their head, but I reckon we could do with a bit more backbone–not less.
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