[Opinion] Catholics: “They Are Not Coming Back…Unless…,” Another Ghanaian Priest Shares Opinion

[Opinion] Catholics: “They Are Not Coming Back…Unless…,” Another Ghanaian Priest Shares Opinion

I have recently read an article by Msgr. Eric Barr of the Diocese of Rockford, Illinois under the above caption (which is easy to miss) which further develops into subtitles.

He wrote about his expectations basically about church life after the COVID-19 Pandemic.

He begins his article by stating bluntly that “Let me say it again. Catholics will not come back to Mass when the pandemic is over.”

He goes on to make a startling revelation – “First of all, before the pandemic, the silent majority of Catholics didn’t go to Mass. So let me amend my statement. The silent majority of Mass-goers have quietly shifted away from a Eucharistic faith.”

Whiles he gives a number of reasons why he thinks majority of Catholics are not likely to return to Mass, he quickly adds that, “There are reasons, but there are also solutions.”

What are the reasons?

1. A Conflict of Values
2. A Crisis of Authority
3. The Grave Mistake of Televised Mass
4. Restrictions on Attending Mass Lead to Impossible Burdens

It would be difficult to appreciate these points fully if one doesn’t read his elaborate explanations of each reason.

No Return…Unless…
Even though the writer admits that his assessment is a bleak one, he immediately offers some remedy and hope which cannot be glossed over. He says, “..majority of Mass-going Catholics are not going to come back UNLESS we do something.

What is this “something” which he says we should do?

He goes on to offer concrete suggestions of actions that need to be taken by bishops, priests and the lay faithful to ensure that Catholics come back to Mass. These include:

1. Developing a catechesis necessary, ie “once again explain to Catholics why a real attended Mass is necessary for their spiritual health”

2. A Time To Stress Better Music, Preaching and Lay Evangelization

His entire conclusion is a challenge to us and worth reflecting and acting on…

“None of these things is really that hard to accomplish. None of them requires a degree in rocket science. The Dominican and Franciscan reforms of the thirteenth century and the Jesuit outreach to the secular world in the sixteenth, revitalized this great community of the Church, and we once again changed the world. So the challenge is ours. Remember, they are not coming back if we do nothing. They just won’t. Carpe diem–seize the day you bishops, priests deacons and well-formed laity. We have a window of opportunity. Let’s not squander it.”

My Personal Take:

I see this article as a useful critique of the times and guide for us as a Church.Even though he speaks about the American context, it is still useful for us as Africans and Ghanaians in particular.

We cannot pretend that all has been well until the pandemic.There are many many Catholics who for various reasons do not attend Mass and this pandemic has only added to the reasons.

We cannot assume that Catholics will just flock back without us doing anything– that would be FALSE hope.

Let us be full of hope BUT should not be oblivious of the task ahead of us as bishops, priests and lay faithful. The good news is that many have started something individually.

All we need to do is to coordinate these activities in a way that doesn’t leave anyone behind. We are all involved.

If possible, get and read the original article yourself. (https://www.patheos.com/blogs/ericbarr/2020/06/catholics-they-are-not-coming-back-unless/) Shalom!

Source: Fr. Antonio Mawuli Ahiabor, (Priest of Ho Diocese, Ghana)


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