AN INTENSE FAITH IN PEOPLE
by Gerry McCarthy
This past August, an article appeared in the Toronto Star informing us that Ontario bishops will be visiting Rome this month for a meeting with Pope Benedict XVI. In the meeting, they are expected to receive a "lecture" from the Pope about bringing more evangelism to their churches.
We also learned that several months ago, the Pope met with bishops from Quebec and Atlantic Canada. He told the bishops to boost Church attendance. He also sent another message: Increasing "secularism" was to blame for the shortage of priests in the country.
It’s no secret that attendance at Mass in Catholic parishes has declined in recent years. The story is the same in other Christian churches too. This past spring a Statistics Canada report found just 32 percent of Canadians attend church regularly. That’s down from 41 percent in 1985, but up slightly from 31 percent in 2000.
There are many reasons for the drop in Church attendance among Catholics. Some are complex. Others are more straightforward. But it’s too easy to pin the blame on an increasing secularism alone. For starters why doesn’t the Pope address the serious divisions within the Church itself? Frequently this has been exacerbated by bishops disempowering lay Catholics. One example: The radical overhaul of the Kansas St. Joseph Diocese in Missouri by Bishop Robert Finn since he was appointed two years ago. These developments were enumerated by the National Catholic Reporter in May.