Every once in a while people opine about whether or not it would be good (and not just inevitable) to have a smaller, leaner, more faithful Church rather than one filled (mainly?) by mere cultural Catholics or CINOs. Benedict XVI spoke about a “creative minority” in larger society. This speaks to our Catholic identity, which has been so devastated since the 60’s by enervated and even faithless preaching of pabulum or downright error, feckless leadership in the public square, and flaccid, aimless, evacuated liturgy.
John Allen at Crux 2.0 has a report about comments made by Philly’s Archbp. Chaput at Notre Shame, for the 2016 Bishops’ Symposium, “Reclaiming the Church for the Catholic Imagination.” It was sponsored by the USCCB and an ND think tank. My emphases and comments.
Philly’s Chaput welcomes idea of smaller, holier Church
In a stark prognosis for contemporary Catholicism, [To use an image from the ancient world, the doctor doesn’t stop cutting just because the patient is screaming for him to stop.] a leader of the conservative wing of the U.S. hierarchy has said that “a smaller, lighter Church” of fewer but holier believers is preferable to one that promotes inclusion at the expense of orthodoxy. [I think not all of his fellow bishops agree with that.]
In a speech delivered Oct. 19 at the University of Notre Dame, Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput also suggested that many prominent Catholics are so weak in their faith that they ought to leave the Church. [Do I hear an “Amen!”?]
Chaput singled out Democrats such as Vice President Joe [the Theologian] Biden and vice presidential nominee Tim [Quisling] Kaine for special criticism, linking them to the concept of a “silent apostasy” coined by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI and saying Catholics who do not champion the truth of Church teaching are “cowards.” [YES!]
“Obviously we need to do everything we can to bring tepid Catholics back to active life in the Church,” Chaput told a symposium for bishops and their staff members at the South Bend, Ind. campus. [And that project, Your Excellency, must be accomplished especially through a revitalization of our sacred liturgical worship.]
“But we should never be afraid of a smaller, lighter Church if her members are also more faithful, more zealous, more missionary and more committed to holiness. [They will be more articulate and exemplary in the public square.]
“Losing people who are members of the Church in name only is an imaginary loss,” he continued. “It may in fact be more honest for those who leave and healthier for those who stay. We should be focused on commitment, not numbers or institutional throw-weight.” [Right. What would we be losing by losing them? The occasional presence and contribution at Christmas and Easter?]
Chaput’s ideas channeled a lively and long-standing debate in Church circles – intensified by Pope Francis’s open-arms approach to ministry – about whether Catholicism should be a smaller and more tradition-minded community, or a larger and more inclusive Church of imperfect believers at various stages in their spiritual pilgrimages. [Get! Out!]
In the context of the coming presidential vote, Chaput’s speech was also the latest in a series of pronouncements by conservative bishops and Catholic activists who have blasted Democrats [The Party of Death] as Election Day draws closer.
You can read more of Allen’s report on this speech over there.
The full transcript of Chaput’s talk is HERE.
I like the way he started out:
As I sat down to write my talk last week, a friend emailed me a copy of a manuscript illustration from the 13th century. It’s a picture of Mary punching the devil in the nose. She doesn’t rebuke him. She doesn’t enter into a dialogue with him. She punches the devil in the nose. So I think that’s the perfect place to start our discussion.
This all brings up the contended point:
Should they just get out?