Blogged by James Preece on 21st October 2013
Fr Tim Finigan observes...
Often, when I talk to priests from Catholic countries, or countries that formerly had a strong Catholic life, I have a sense of déjà-vu, as though they are sincerely and earnestly addressing problems that we faced in England 30 years ago.
Some of the things that Pope Francis has said strike me in the same vein. It is great to hear that he told priests not to turn away unmarried mothers who bring their children for Baptism. When I was newly-ordained (nearly 30 years ago), in the inner-city parish I first worked in, more than 50% of the children that we baptised were of unmarried mothers.
That's my experience as well. Not the inner-city parish 30 years ago bit obviously, I wasn't working in an inner city parish when I was a baby! No.. I mean the sense of trying to address problems we simply are not facing any more.
Fr Finigan experiences this in terms of changing congregations and the sorts of needs people bring to the Church. I experience it in terms of the friends I make in non-Churchy type activities and the attitudes to religion I encounter in the work place, at juggling clubs or even when I'm reading an internet forum I usually enjoy on the subject of wood carving and the discussion briefly turns to religion.
The problem I face isn't "I'd love to be a Catholic, my parents brought me up a Catholic and I love the Church, if only they wouldn't make such a big deal about my remarriage". No, the problem I face is "ha ha ha - have you heard? James believes in the ******* sky fairy!"
The difficulty is that the Church is ran by grand-parent aged people who are still wondering why on earth it is their now adult children don't go to Mass and are seeking a quick fix solution. Oh, if only they could receive communion, then they would be here...
It's a red herring. The mission of the Church is not to go out and make moral exceptions for a small minority of chosen people who happen to be the children and grand-children of older people who still go to Mass.
The Church exists to evangelise. Everybody.
The vast majority of the people outside the door are not Catholics at all. Until we find a way to speak to those people in language they understand, all this fiddling around about tweaking the rules will make no difference.