The Bishops are concerned about the need to step up the evangelizing.
They wonder why Catholics appear to be falling away in greater numbers than ever from the institutional church.
Maybe it’s a wardrobe issue?
It’s hard to stand with ordinary people when you are decked out in silk vestments and have to navigate with a miter on your head and a crozier in hand.
The sisters and the priests and brothers who teach and serve in hospitals and shelters and wherever they see people in need, do not have that challenge.
Dressed simply, they bring word of the Gospel through the work they do.
Maybe it’s a semantics issue?
As Sr. Simone Campbell says, the words “all are welcome” should not mean “my all” which is different from “your all.”
So, this ordinary Catholic has a question for the Bishops: when will your “all” include:
-women as equals, as qualified to respond to the call to serve as priests and bishops the same way they serve as equals in every other sphere of life?
-LGBT Catholics, as worthy of full communion in the church as the people others shunned but were fully embraced by Jesus in his time?
-those who are casualties of the extreme gospel of individualism of the Ryan Budget? (Helpful hint: You can do this by publicly promoting the Faithful Budget, the community-focused alternative to the Ryan budget put together by an interfaith coalition.)
-those who are casualties of the new age of ignorance that manifests itself in the denial of science and the attempts to return women to the tyranny of laws that endanger their health, reproductive independence and prospects for a better life?
Maybe it’s a communications and PR issue?
To evangelize is to take the Word to others. But the words of many Bishops this past election season –and their silence when they should have spoken out to protest lies writ large and hateful language directed at the President–have given many Catholics ample reason to follow their conscience and leave the pews.When they do, they do not leave the church. They take it with them. And find it in the works of the religious, in the brave, principled stances of priests like Fr. Roy Bourgeois and in the community of others who “blessed and broken,” believe that like the Eucharist, it is in sharing that we will have life. And we will have enough.
The Bishops apparently have heard that they need to communicate better, perhaps be more visible on social media. They have announced efforts to step up their messaging.
As a Catholic who has spent many years in the world of PR and corporate communications, I respectfully offer this counsel: It’s not about the medium.
It’s all about the message. And the credibility of the messenger.
Public censure, excommunications, visitations, the withholding of communion –these appear to have become increasingly popular with the Bishops. Their apparently bottomless tolerance, even patronage of misogynist, science-denying politicians selling the gospel of individualism and coded racism sends a very clear message as to who they stand with in solidarity. Excommunicating a priest who attests steadfastly to the equality of women while holding within their inner circles of power Bishops convicted of enabling the sexual abuse of children does not build confidence amongst the congregation. Tweeting about it isn’t going to improve things. It may actually make more Catholics better informed about all the ways the establishment Church has, through their silence or their public statements, given aid and their imprimatur to the powerful and turned their back on those most in need. And on those who refuse to ignore their conscience.
To evangelize, let’s recognize everyone and welcome everyone.
If Christ did not discriminate, and refused to condemn, by what scriptural authority does the establishment Church continue to do so? By what scriptural authority does it even dare to do so?