My emphases and comments.
N.Y. archbishop takes stock of challenges in the American Catholic Church
Phoenix, Ariz., Aug 13, 2009 / 12:33 am (CNA).- Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York told CNA last week that the Catholic Church is currently facing many challenges, four being: the vocation to marriage, the state of Catholic parishes and schools, the great number of lapsed Catholics and finally the difficulties in a culture desperate to keep the Church and morals out of the public square. [WDTPRS has been talking about this incessantly: It is about our Catholic identity. If we don’t know who we are, we won’t have anything compelling to say in the public square. Why would anyone bother to listen, if we don’t have anything to say?]
Sitting down with CNA in Phoenix, Arizona during the 127th annual Knights of Columbus convention, the archbishop noted that while he loves his new assignment as the Archbishop of New York, his archdiocese of 2.6 million Catholics, as well as the Church in the United States, is currently facing some serious challenges. [Do I hear an "Amen!"?]
“Oh, there’s tons of challenges, my Lord, there’s never any dearth of challenges,” the archbishop began, explaining that the basic challenge for all Catholics is the same one that Jesus gave on Pentecost Sunday: “Go out to the world and preach the Gospel.”
The archbishop then broke down Jesus’ words into four practical challenges the Church currently faces in preaching the Gospel to all people, the first  being the instability of marriage and family.
“That’s where we have the real vocation crisis,” he remarked, noting that “only 50% of our Catholic young people are getting married.”
“We have a vocation crisis to life-long, life-giving, loving, faithful marriage. If we take care of that one, we’ll have all the priests and nuns we need for the church,” Dolan said. [Chicken – egg conundrum?]
The  second challenge the Church faces, according to Archbishop Dolan, is that it must “maintain and strengthen the blessed infrastructure that we have in the Catholic Church in the United States.” This infrastructure, the parishes, schools, religious education programs, Catholic Charities and hospitals, has “fortified the Church” for “over 200 years.” Now, however, these same institutions are struggling because of their size and cost.
The aim isn’t only to maintain them, he continued, they need to be strengthened because “now more than ever does the Church need a public face.” [He ties this into the "public square" issue… and he is right.]
The Church needs to have a good public profile because there are “a lot of people out there who would like to exclude the Church from any type of public witness and we can’t let that happen,” the Archbishop of New York said. [Do I have an "Amen!"?]
Moving on to the  third challenge for the U.S. Catholic Church, Dolan simply described it as reaching out and inviting our people home.
“It scares the life out of me when I find out that second most identifiable religious grouping on the religious landscape of the United States are people who say, ‘I used to be a Catholic.’” [I have had this conversation many times with a friend of mine. I am constantly stressing the need to get our people home.]
We bishops have to do something about this, he insisted. “We have to say, ‘no, look, there is no such thing as a former Catholic. Your Catholicism is, as a matter of fact, in your DNA. And whether you like it or not you’re born into it just like you’re born into a natural family.’”
Now, he continued, “you might say, ‘I’m ticked off at my natural family, I’m not hanging around with them anymore, I’ve got things to work out.’ But you’re still a member of that family and sooner or later you usually make your peace with it and go home.”
In comparison, “the Church is our supernatural family,” he explained, “you might be upset with it, you might not be showing up for Sunday dinner, you might be mad at it about a couple of things…but you’re still a member.”
The Church “is your supernatural family, and, darn it, we need you and want you to come back home. You’re always welcome,” Dolan offered.
The  final challenge the he listed is confronting “a culture” with many “strident voices who want to keep” God, morals, virtue and the Church “out of the public square.”
He explained that those voices will say that “religious is fine as an individual hobby… but don’t enforce it on the rest of us.” [That is what prominent Catholics, such as politicians, say. This is the sort of thing which Speaker Pelosi would say… VP Biden. "We can’t push our values on other people who don’t share them." Again.. we have a serious identity problem.]
However, Dolan argued, without the voice of the Church, “our public square is reduced if the Church isn’t part of it, and what makes America great is that religion has always had a strong, respected place at the table.” Those who want to exclude the voice of the Church, he said, are involved in “galloping secularism.”
He explained: “There are those movers and shakers in society that want to take the teeth out of religion and we can’t let that happen” because America, individuals, the world and culture would be much worse off.
“We’ve got something to say, and darn it, we want to say it,” he stated.
I whole heartedly endorse what the Archbishop says here.
I will add another note, specially about the last point.
Here is part of what I wrote after the Notre Shame Debacle:
I urge all priests and bishops who read this blog with any slight quaver of resonance or benevolence, to consider this with care:
If you sense that something quite serious and important is going on right now, for the love of God rethink your approach to how you foster Holy Church’s proper public worship.
Do all in your power and through your influence to foster a worship of God which conforms not to worldly goals – as praiseworthy as they may be in a world still dominated by its dire prince – but rather to the real point of religion: an encounter with mystery.
Our worship must become more and more focused on the one who is Other. Seek what is truly above in your rites and raise people to encounter mystery.
You will be challenged and reviled, blocked and attacked as you do. You will be worn down and afraid under the weight of resistance.
But I think that to save the world we must save the liturgy.
Sunday reaffirmed this for me.
They can’t compete with the fullness of Catholic liturgy and sound preaching.
Reforming the liturgy along the lines Pope Benedict has proposed may be the most loving and effective option we have in these ever hotter times.
People will have to keep working very much in the sphere of the secular. Of course! Our inward Catholic Christian identity must find outward expression and bring concrete fruits.
But I think the real work now – where we will make some effective headway – must be done at the level of our public worship.
In the present circumstances, we are not going to argue most people out of danger or error. But together we can draw them in and along and back through worship.
So long as we remain doctrinally faithful and active in works of mercy both spiritual and especially temporal, if we get our public worship together we will have a strong bastion against error.
Holy Catholic worship will be an attractive force for conversion.
We need to foster worship which stuns, which leaves the newcomer, long-time practicing Catholic, above all the fallen-away simply thunder stuck. Worship must at some point leave people speechless in awe. We need language and music and gesture which in its beauty floods the mind with light even while it swells the heart to bursting.
The more people encounter mystery through liturgy, the more hollow will clang the false or incomplete messages of those who have strayed from the good path, either to the left or to the right.
Our goal must be that which is good and beautiful because it is true, that which reflects what is of God, not man’s image merely. Give us mystery, not fabrications smacking of the world, fallen and transitory.
Fathers, and you Reverend Bishops, if anything of alarm has sounded in your hearts and minds of late, rethink your approach to our worship. Examine your approach with an eye on the signs of the times. Take a new approach.
The approach we have had least last few decades isn’t getting it done. Really … it isn’t
Going neither left nor right along the road toward the Lord, even as He comes to us, take the flock now deeper, now higher on that path, but always to encounter the mystery which distinguishes truly Catholic liturgy… and therefore true Catholics.
Lines are being drawn, sides taken, choices made.
More than ever we need what Christ, the true Actor of our liturgy, desires to offer us through Holy Church’s worship.