I am watching the Twitter feed of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, the USCCB, as they conduct their 2019 General Assembly in Baltimore.
I am talking back to the tweets, as one does, but I can’t get my answers down to the Twitter word limit. I’ll have to write them here.
50% of Catholics 30 and younger have left the Church. 1 out of 6 millennials in the US is a former Catholic. For every 1 joining, 6.45 are leaving. When are they leaving? 79% leave before the age of 23. The median age of those who leave is 13.
They left because you hurt them, Fathers. Don’t you remember? You participated in physical, sexual, emotional and spiritual abuse of your flock. Some of you abused them yourselves. Most all of you protected abusers from being stopped, at one time or another. You coddled abusers. You sent them away for counseling instead of exposing and stopping them. You transferred them to different parishes so they’d do it again. At every time you could have made your flock your priority, you made abusive priests your priority instead. You gaslit victims. You lied to and about victims. You threatened victims. You re-traumatized them. You emotionally abused people who had already been sexually abused, to make them shut up and go away. You killed people– you forced abortions, which is killing, and you drove victims to suicide. Their blood is on your hands.
The only mystery is why the number isn’t higher. By the grace of God and not by your efforts, some of us are still here.
Bishop Barron now talks about what he says is most important – the issue of the rise in religiously unaffiliated young adults.
Why are they leaving? Bishop Barron presents data: 1. They no longer believe (doctrine). +Barron says this is “a bitter fruit of the dumbing down of our faith.”
No one dumbed down the faith for us, Fathers. I had a good preparation in my confirmation classes. I can still name the Twelve Fruits of the Holy Ghost: charity, joy, peace, patience, forbearance, goodness, benignity, mildness, faithfulness, modesty, continence and chastity. I did that off book without looking. I can name the Seven Gifts as well: wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord. The cardinal virtues are prudence, temperance, justice and fortitude. The theological virtues are faith, hope and love, and the greatest of these is love.
They left because you didn’t love us.
If you had loved your children– us, your flock, the people who fill your churches hungry for the Word of the Lord– you would have valued us more than the reputations of abusive priests. You would have valued prudence, temperance, justice and fortitude more than comfort, luxury and a good reputation. And you did value luxury– immensely. You lived in more luxury than most of your flock will ever see. You didn’t use your wealth for our benefit. You used it to pamper yourselves and cover up your crimes. And then you had the gall to ask for more from us, every year, appeal after appeal.
That isn’t love.
That isn’t a father.
That’s a parasite.
“Few of the “nones” are anti-religious – they’re more “blandly indifferent” or “ambivalent” – +Barron
Of course they’re indifferent, Fathers, because you were indifferent to them.
Of course we don’t seek another faith. To whom should we go? Christ has the words of everlasting life, but Christ left Himself in your hands. Whoever’s sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whoever’s sins you hold bound are held bound. He broke the bread, blessed it, gave it to His holy apostles– to you, to everyone who succeeds the apostles. He said “Do this in memory of Me.”
We have never seen Christ as the apostles did. We see you. What you did to us, you claimed was in memory of Christ. You broke us, divided us among your priests and abandoned us.
The opposite of love is not hate. The opposite of love is indifference. You were indifferent to us when we were helpless. If these things were done when the wood was green, what should we do now that it’s dry?
When you were created bishops, you were left stewards of the household while the Master was away. But you abused the other servants and set yourself to feasting and drinking. The Master will return and find you this way. You were created shepherds, after the heart of the Good Shepherd who lays down His life for the sheep. But you betrayed the Good Shepherd and scattered the flock.
If you repent, if you turn back to the Master and the Good Shepherd, you will get up from your luxury and your riches and take care of the Master’s house. You will attend to the wounds you inflicted and you will beg our forgiveness. You will leave your mansions and go find the sheep that have run away from your abuse. You will get on your knees and beg their forgiveness as well, and if any of them can be moved to return with you, you will bring them back. Then you will turn your attention to us, to all of us who have tried to remain faithful, and you will prove your repentance by your dedication to justice.
Or you can continue the way you are, Fathers. It’s your choice. And the consequences will be yours to bear on the Last Day. In the meanwhile, of course, they’ll be ours. We are the ones who will suffer until the Master returns.
“We need to be bold” in the proclamation of the kerygma.
No. You need to be humble.
Humble yourselves, and repent.
I know you’re not listening, Fathers. My heart is broken because you will not listen. You will not listen because you do not care.
There is a God in Heaven who cares, but with you as His representatives, who will think to cry out to Him?
Drop dew, ye Heavens, from above, and let the clouds rain justice.
(image via Pixabay)