Marcella Bombardieri of the Boston Globe, wrote:
"To many young Catholics, the institutional Church looms like a stern
disciplinarian, scolding them for straying from church teachings on such hot-button topics as
divorce,abortions and birth control."
She goes on to say that this "disconnection" should act as a wake up call
to Church leaders. That's what's at stake is the vitality of the Church in America.
A wake up call in deed, but in which regard and for whom?
Every nation, state, culture, etc., from the beginning of time has known
that the children were the keys to their future. Everyone has looked to the
children. Hitler had the Hitler Youth, designed to steep them and
indoctrinate them in Nazi ideology and the "worship" of Adolf Hitler as the
Fuehrer (leader). In the Soviet Union, we saw the Young Pioneers. Again,
designed to indoctrinate the young of Russia into the ideologies of Marxist
Communism. And yes, even the Church looked to the young. CYO and other
organizations, were set up to try and help her children come to a deeper
"Teach...your children well" was a line from a song by Crosby, Stills,
Nash and Young. Who is teaching our children a faith full of vitality and
joy? The Church teaches that parents are the main teachers of the young.
But reality often hits us where we wish it wouldn't.
A sixth grade public school class is in rapt attention as their teacher
tells them that the world is over-populated and what the consequences of that
going to be. He doesn't say we have to support abortion, euthanasia, or
forced sterilization. There's no need to. At this point, the "fact" is
enough for now. The "seed" is planted. (This actually occurred in my
daughter's class) Later on, other "teachers" will give them what they need
to make the "logical, reasoned" conclusion.
In the secular world, it's hard enough for parents to teach their children
when other "authority" figures tell them the opposite. But this supposes that the
parents aren't themselves the product of this "miseducation." And here we see the real
tragedy and the true "roots" of the "disconnection" of Catholic youth.
It began over 30 years ago. Before the ink was dry on the teachings of
Vatican II, people were busy misinterpreting it, looking for loopholes, and re-inventing
it. Consider how we care for a new born child. We don't give them a steak
dinner at one week old. They receive milk first, then slowly, gradually, we
bring them to more solid food. First a little rice cereal, then a bit more,
then cereal with mashed up carrots, and on and on. So it is with this.
Vatican II wanted us to realize what a loving God we had. Too often before,
we saw Him as a big guy with a flowing beard holding a ledger, giving us
demerits for every little infraction. However, though some in the Church
often portrayed Him such, the Church never did. Yes, we will come before
Him as the Divine Judge, but a just and compassionate one. Not a "hanging
judge." But this was not what was later taught. First, it was that we have a
loving God, but this "truth" was as far as it got. No where would they
mention that we have a responsibility to live our lives according to His will
They were taught that "we are the Church," and again, this truth was
quickly hacked and distorted into something it isn't. Yes, WE are the
Church, as members of His Body. However:
"For the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot
should say, 'Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,' that would not make
it any less a part of the body. And if the ear should say, 'Because I am not
an eye, I do not belong to the body,' that would not make it any less a part
of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would be the hearing? If
the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? But as it is,
God arranged the organs in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all
were a single organ, where would the body be? As it is, there are many
parts, yet one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, 'I have no need of
you,' nor again the head to the feet, 'I have no need of you.' On the
contrary, the parts of the body which seem to be weaker are indispensable,
and those parts of the body which we think less honorable we invest with the
greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty,
which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the
body, giving the greater honor to the inferior part, that there may be no
discord in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one
another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is
honored, all rejoice together" (1 Corinthians 12: 14-26).
According to a Sister Mary Johnson of Emmanuel College; "The Second Vatican
Council told us the church is 'the people of God,' not the church hierarchy."
Yet Vatican II actually teaches that the Church IS hierarchical. It even
devotes an entire chapter to it in the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church,
Lumen Gentium. Chapter three has the title "ON THE HIERARCHICAL STRUCTURE OF
THE CHURCH." Now if Vatican II says what Sister Johnson says it does, why
this chapter? Why state in that chapter; "religious submission of mind and
will must be shown in a special way to the authentic Magisterium of the Roman
Pontiff, even when he is not speaking ex cathedra;....And this infallibility
with which the Divine Redeemer willed His Church to be endowed in defining doctrine
of faith and morals, extends as far as the deposit of Revelation extends, which
must be religiously guarded and faithfully expounded. And this is the infallibility which
the Roman Pontiff, the head of the college of bishops, enjoys in virtue of his office,
when, as the supreme shepherd and teacher of all the faithful, who confirms his
brethren in their faith, by a definitive act he proclaims a doctrine of faith or morals.
And therefore his definitions, of themselves, and not from the consent of the Church,
are justly styled irreformable, since they are pronounced with the assistance of the
Holy Spirit, promised to him in blessed Peter, and therefore they need no approval of
others, nor do they allow an appeal to any other judgment. For then the Roman Pontiff is not
pronouncing judgment as a private person, but as the supreme teacher of the
universal Church, in whom the charism of infallibility of the Church itself
is individually present, he is expounding or defending a doctrine of Catholic
faith" (Lumen Gentium, Chap. 3, #25).
From this basic premise, we, and our children have been taught that the
Church is an "institutional church," not the Church promised by God to lead
His people in His ways and truths. Why? Because we won't sit idly by and let a
lie be given as a truth. Because it won't, it's further portrayed as "a
stern disciplinarian, scolding them for straying from church teachings."
Instead of a loving mother trying to help her children grow as their Father
wishes them to.
Why do the young feel disconnected? Is it because of the Church as Johnson
and Bombardieri (and others) assert? Or is it because they have disconnected
them from the Church? Are they like the electrician who says you don't need
to plug in your television set to get a picture? Are their "teachings" of
dissent and miseducation causing the young to feel disconnected? Is it the
cause of the loss of vocations in religious life? If, after all, the
religious of no importance, then what do we need them for? After all, "WE"
are the Church. And if that is so, then why push for women priests, or more
women in places of authority (bishops and cardinals?). After all, these
places of authority are of no consequence....right?
So, many of these "disconnected" youth attend Mass sporadically, don't get
involved in their parishes, and even leave the Church for other faiths.
After all, as Dean Hoge of Catholic University says, "It's important to
convey that it's not a total package where if you don't follow everything,
you're not ok." If it isn't, then we are free to make up our own. To pick
and choose. Not only what teachings we'll accept, but even which faith best
suits our needs. But again, Vatican II didn't teach that, did it?!?
"religious submission of mind and will must be shown in a special way to
the authentic Magisterium of the Roman Pontiff, even when he is not speaking
ex cathedra... This is even more clearly verified when, gathered together in
an ecumenical council, they (the Magisterium) are teachers and judges of
faith and morals for the universal Church, whose definitions must be adhered
to with the submission of faith" (Lumen Gentium, Chap 3, #25)
Recently, the National Council of Catholic Bishops voted to implement the
Pope's call that teachers of Catholic children must teach Catholic teaching.
This is a first, but the battle is not over. After all, according to
Johnson, Hoge, Ruether, Curran, et al, they are teaching Catholic teachings.
It took 30 years or us to get were we are now. It may take another 30, and
maybe even a schism, before we get back to where we should be.
Pax Christi, Pat