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.