On Being a Catholic


We were born Catholics, grew up that way, but had to undergo a long and sometimes painful conversion in order to connect with its inner meaning. Here is what we hope the Catholic Church will become in the future.

A Church more centered on Jesus

Institutions have a way of growing large and unweildly to the point where they begin to defeat the very purpose for which they were created. The Catholic Church in its human institutional dimension is no exception. When we look at it precisely in this way, we can be excused if we see it at times much more caught up with its own rules and regulations than with contemplating the life of Jesus and what it should mean for Christian life today. Too bad. The whole point of the Church is to bring us into a deeper relationship with Jesus.

A Church more open to those who have left it

There are a great many people who have grown up in the Catholic Church and have in varying degrees left it, often due to the bungling and ineptitude of this human institutional side of the Church we have just been talking about. Our advice to them? Don’t let the Church as an institution stand in the way of your relationship with Jesus, and what He is calling for you to do even if that happens to be reconnecting with the Church, itself!

A Church that is open, period.

The Catholic Church should never go back to the defensive posture it had for a long time before the Second Vatican Council. It needs to be fundamentally open to whatever is good and true and beautiful, no matter where it comes from, and even if this openness hurts in terms of it trying to stretch and understand new things. It has to be open to the arts and sciences, the movements for social justice and saving the earth, and especially to its fellow Christians and the people of other religions.

A Church that thinks

The Catholicism of the future needs to be filled with lay people who make use of their God-given intelligence. They certainly exhibit it in every conceivable field, but they can’t suspend it when it comes to their faith. They need to be genuinely and deeply educated in the faith, and use their talents to discover how the Church can be improved. They don’t need anybody’s permission in order to do this. It is a mandate given with their baptism, and their inner relationship with Christ.

A Church without clericalism

The Church, despite the Second Vatican Council and a great deal of high-sounding rhetoric about the role of the lay person, still suffers from a pervasive clericalism. If there should be one lesson from the scandals that have rocked the Church in recent times, it is that the closed clerical world that exists now has to end. All the people in the Church are responsible for its future, and have to work together to create it.

A Church that is faithful

It will make little sense if we renew the Church in the ways we have been describing, and in the process lose sight of the faith, itself, with its belief in the Trinitiy, the divinity of Jesus, His resurrection, and so forth. Modern Catholic theology, however, in reaction to the poor way theology was presented in the past, sometimes proposes things that go against this faith. What future can there be for a Church that is not faithful?


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