Sunday, December 10, 2017
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The Catholic Church in South America, Africa, Asia and the Far East is poor but vibrant. The Catholic Church in North America and Europe is rich but sputtering.Thus, the challenge confronting the new pope, Francis, of Argentina.

How does the church energize the 1.2 billion Catholics, especially in the western Hemisphere?

Bishop George Murry of the Youngstown Catholic Diocese sat down this week with two members of The Vindicator's editorial board, Editoral Page Editor Dennis Mangan and Editorial Writer and Columnist Bertram de Souza, to discuss the future of the church — locally, nationally and globally.

It was a no-holds-barred conversation that was videotaped. (You can watch the videos on this website.)

One of the bishop's most poignant observations is about the three categories of Catholics today: those who attend Sunday mass and other services on a regular basis; those who attend church occasionally; and those who are "cultural" Catholics.

The second and third categories make up a majority of the Catholics in the United States. Therein lies the challenge to the hierarchy of the church, led by Pope Francis.

The bishop has some interesting ideas on how to bring the non-regular Catholics back into the fold. And he also offers an honest appraisal of the priest shortage, the role of women in the church and the always controversial issue of abortion.

The editorial board's conversation with Bishop Murry is must-see for anyone interested in the future of the Catholic Church.



Posted by sknirak (anonymous) on April 1, 2013 at 9:08 a.m.

In yesterday's article about this interview, the Bishop mentioned about 30% make up Catholics who attend Sunday Mass and other services on a regular basis. If this is so, then the number of actual Catholics is closer to 18 to 20 million rather than the 60+ million listed.

Reclaiming the lost ones will not be easy since there are a variety of reasons why people did leave. And those reasons range from legitmate (in their opinion) to just plain irrational notions. We are reminded in the Scriptures that "many are called, but few are chosen".

We have to try to get back those who left, but they have to be open to the Word of God. The question is, how many will be?

Posted by Spence (anonymous) on June 4, 2013 at 3:39 a.m.

Why should it be of any concern to the general public whether or not any church prospers? Of what value are ancient myths? All of the mythologies eventually die and are replaced.

It is no coincidence that fewer people in the Western countries are not attending churches. Fact is as people become more educated they tend to become nonbelievers. Among scientists 85% are Atheist. The real question that should be raised is why there are any theists left.

Posted by Robert_Neville (anonymous) on August 31, 2013 at 11:41 a.m.

A statement about more education makes you believe less in God is not a true statement. It is a fact that more educated you are can be linked to a broken home. Over 55% of all marriages in America end up to be a broken home. With these new facts it is a culture thing nothing more. It really paint a picture only 1% of the population serve to defend our freedom.

I say that people do not believe in God do to the fact that you need to have faith and if you do not believe in your spouses. Then how can you believe in anything?

Posted by kurtw (anonymous) on November 5, 2013 at 12:53 p.m.

I was born and raised a Catholic- parochial school grad- and stopped attending Mass years ago. The question I ask myself is- why? Why give up something which for many is a vital part of their lives. In other words, why isn't the ritual of participating in the symbolic re-enactment of Jesus' last meal on earth important to me any more?

I think, the conclusion that I finally reached- and I'm just one lapsed Catholic among many- is that I know too much. I mean by that, when I first started going to Mass- I was a young child and the mass was said in Latin- a language I couldn't understand- but I think I was influenced by the aesthetic appeal of the ritual itself- I didn't need to understand and actually- I didn't know it at the time- when I started to understand- when the Mass started to be said in English and when I started to hear the priest talk about his building fund every week (part of his job, I know)- that's when I started to lose my faith.

To use a secular analogy, it's the difference between hearing an Italian Opera- like "Butterfly" for instance sung in Italian- understanding not a word- but basking in the emotion conveyed by the wonderful music and language and hearing it translated- sure, you understand it now, but, what's missing? Everything, it seems to me (it makes more sense to have sub-titles which you can read or ignore- like the difference between a foreign movie that's been dubbed and one with the language intact).

Yeah, the new Mass- the English Mass is an improvement in that it facilitates understanding- but what we gain in clarity- we lose in emotional depth. The old Latin Mass had an aesthetic unity and beauty, the new mass lacks- That's not the only reason I stopped going to Mass every Sunday, but it's an important one (maybe we should have retained the Latin Mass and used sub-titles?).

Since moving away from Catholicism, I've flirted briefly with various Protestant Denominations, even tried Unitarianism for awhile (which reminded me strongly of a University Lecture in the Department of Philosophy- I decided I might as well enroll and get credit), as well as Judaism and various brands of non-western religions. None of them seemed to take hold (closest was Buddhism which can be practiced just about anywhere- besides, I was always a closet navel-gazer- that's my temperament).

The conclusion I was finally left with was summed up for me by the late Rabbi Samuel Meyer, during my brief flirtation with Judaism, twenty some years ago: the Rabbi, a very wise man, told me: "A good rule I've found to be true over the years is that if you're not happy in your own (native) religion, you won't be happy in any other religion, either."

So, when all is said and done, that's what I'm left with: my religion, if anyone asks (if I have one at all) is- Inactive Catholic.