a Reflection on USCCB General Assembly 2019 June
Hating on the bishops is the latest fad on Twitter.
I can understand why. The latest sexual abuse scandal has broken everyone’s trust. I feel like the bishops are out of touch. I feel it especially when they tweet out:
Problem with Bishops’ Statement
At first glance, I did not think much of the question. Yet I could not let it go. The problem is that everyone should have the same answer as Simon Peter
” Jesus said to the twelve, “will you also go away? Simon Peter answered him, Lord to whom shall we go? You have the words of everlasting life, and we believe and have come to know that you are the Holy One of God.” John 6:67-68a RSV Second Catholic Edition
I stay not because the homily is good or because the music moves me. Faith formation programs while important are not the reason I stay. Rather I stay because somewhere along the way, I became convinced that the church through Jesus had the word of everlasting life.
Problem With Communication
Bishop Barron’s solution
I stay because the Catholic Church is the truth. Perhaps then people leave because the truth is poorly communicated.
Bishop Barron seems to think so. Twitter criticized Bishop Barron for suggesting that the church imitate the style of Dr. Jordan B Peterson.
Now I had never heard of this guy. A quick google search reveals that he is a psychologist with moderate political videos.
He is not a devout Catholic. If anything, he flirts with Christian morality when it fits his agenda.
To be fair, Bishop Barron did say to imitate the style of and not the substance. But why? Christianity should be all about proclaiming the truth.
Yet people join the ranks of the religious unaffiliated not out of ignorance, but out of lack of relevance.
I don’t want apologetics!
I want community.
Thus the below tweet intrigues me.
"By the time they turn 40, most millennials have moved 17 times, which means that the paradigm of parishes doesn't work for them."— US Catholic Bishops (@USCCB) June 11, 2019
People are not joining communities. There is a culture of loneliness. This is a context we need to consider. –@bishopcoyne
Is USCCB right? Are parishes dysfunctional?
Yes and no.
First, we need to understand what a parish is.
I have written about parishes before. In that post, I said, “I think most Catholics leave, not because protestant services are more entertaining or because they don’t understand the Eucharist, but because it’s easier to feel like you belong.”
I stand by that statement. Most parishes are awful at fostering that sense of belonging. Furthermore, parishes have no incentive to foster belonging. A parish receives its authority based on geography. That’s a shame for all those people driving 20 or more minutes away.
This also explains the Latin Mass phenomenon. Despite what your Trad friend would love to brag. The Latin Mass feels like a community because it groups together like-minded people. It has nothing to do with pre-Vatican II Liturgy.
Bishops so close, but not exactly
So I do agree parishes don’t work. Yet parishes don’t work, not because younger people migrate. Rather they never found that authentic community. Most of what parishes offer appears inflexible and unwelcoming. Most people do not know anyone’s name or notice when they don’t attend.
So we should do away with the parish right?
Rather I think a change of attitude is in order. Parishes are not merely places to procure the sacraments. They become places where the community is found. After all, when two or three is gathered in Jesus’s name, he promises to be there.
Interested in learning more? I’ve written on how to foster community and still stay reverent here