Without a Doubt

My good friend and brother bishop, Bishop Thomas Tobin of Providence, recently wrote an outstanding column in his diocesan newspaper, the Rhode Island Catholic. I thought you might be interested in reading it.

Here’s an excerpt:

Now, I don’t think I’m at all naïve about these things. I stay in close contact with the news – international, national, local and ecclesial; I interact regularly with the secular media; I meet frequently with consultative groups in the Diocese who share freely their experiences and expertise; At the office I hear everyday from all sorts of folks who love me or hate me, folks with good and bad news; In the fall I hosted a series of listening sessions with laity from around the Diocese; and I visit with people in our parishes all the time for liturgical and pastoral events. In other words, I think I know what’s going on.

Does the Church have huge challenges and problems? Of course! Have the leaders of the Church, including priests and bishops, too frequently failed to keep their commitments and serve the people well? You bet! And should the Church seek more effective ways of communicating, educating and responding to contemporary issues and the ever-changing needs of our time? Absolutely!

But, is the sky falling and the Catholic Church about to fold? I don’t think so. The vision of the Church I see is far different than that of the letter-writers and authors cited above.

You can read the whole column here.

14 Responses to “Without a Doubt”

  1. Robert Fox says:

    This is good in the sense that it is positive talk. But remember dear Archbishop (when we talk about the declining numbers in Holy Matrimony compared to other denominations) that the Catholic Church sets the TONE in culture and civilization because she is the Universal Church.

    The decline in morals in other Christian denominations can be tied to the Church herself loosing part of her identity through false ecumenism, syncretism and an exaggerated desire to get along. I speak of laity like myself as well as many bishops.

    We all fall short due to lack of courage and a desire to not rock the boat. But convincing others that the Church is NOT in deep crisis will not solve the crisis itself.

    I too love the Church. But when I look at many of the graying congregations at the different Churches where I live… or in Europe… I notice three things: Banality, sterility, shrinking demographics.

    The most popular name in any British maternity ward these days is not “John”. Please go look it up.

    The way the Church goes… so goes the world around her.

    Servus, Robert.

  2. Irene says:

    I was engaged by the linked article by Bishop Tobin until I came to the gratuitous attack on the National Catholic Reporter; then I just stopped reading. I find NCR to be very balanced and informative about local and national Catholic issues. I don’t think it is helpful when our church leaders look for enemies lurking in every corner, especially when they are so quick to treat fellow Catholics as adversaries. This kind of attitude is very divisive and not what we need from our leadership.

  3. RobCollorafi says:

    Well, Your Excellency, the statistic citing a 71% drop in Catholic marriages in R.I. is not surprising considering the fact that roughly 97% of Catholic married couples of childbearing age are practicing contraception. As the late Fr. John Hardon said, “Contraception is fatal to the Faith.”

    Now this is what I don’t understand. If our Catholic churches are as crowded as Bishop Tobin says they are and roughly 97% of Catholic married people of childbearing age are making objectively sacrilegious Communions—I don’t presume to judge the subjective state of individuals, only the objective nature of what they’re doing—that seems like a big deal to me.

    I think that until the day comes when the bishops and priests deal head-on with the issue of objectively sacrilegious Communions, then we’re only going to continue towards the demographic implosion of the Catholic population that we see in Europe.

    If Fr. Hardon was correct, and if contraception really is fatal to the Faith, why in the world aren’t you talking about it?

    Lastly, be assured of my prayers. I think you have a terribly difficult job, but I say with all due respect that unless you preach the hard truths at the root of what is destroying us, you are not likely to be remembered as a bishop in the mold of St. John Fisher or Josef Cardinal Mindzenty.

    God bless you.

  4. Archbishop Dolan, I find it very discouraging that both you and Bishop Tobin have turned this critical teaching moment into yet another occasion to congratulate yourselves on the fact that a tiny fraction of Catholics still attend church regularly.

    Considering the enormous potential the Catholic Church in the northeast had a few decades ago, what’s the big hairy deal if 1/5 of the Catholic population in the U.S. still attend Mass and do good works? (Somehow the 80% who have fallen by the wayside are always forgotten.)

    The Catholic Church here was on the cusp of an enormous surge in numbers a generation or two ago. Just because the churches are full now is nothing remarkable. We ought to have been building new churches and schools by the hundreds given the projected number of Catholics that should presently be attending Mass and sending their children to Catholic schools if they had kept the Faith (and hadn’t contracepted most of those children out of existence.)

    You’d think statistics like the 71% decline in Catholic marriages which Bishop Tobin mentioned would make the Catholic clergy wake up and smell the coffee, but no, the U.S. Catholic bishops are too busy rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic to notice.

  5. Robert Fox says:

    Dear Irene: I must respectfully disagree with you on your characterization of National Catholic Reporter. I find it’s commentaries on theology, morality and spirituality to be stuck in a a 1960′s -1980′s time warp.

    The NCR is always on the side of dissent (in an artfully dodgy way) and so are most of it’s readers. An example: The commenters of the recent Norma Jean Coons recant article are mostly in favor of the Womenpriest movement.

    The Sanctions lifted on recanting woman deacon were covered so poorly that the article does not even mention why she really recanted. Why? Because her reversion to the faith occurred the first time she ever went to a Tridentine Mass. And if you search the ENTIRE NCR website… I doubt you would find the word Tridentine, because it is the kind of vocabulary word that the NCR would rateher ignore than honestly explore.

    I guess I’m saying that the NCR to many of us young internet hip families is transparent… and it is precisely so because we can go to vatican.va and read what the Church teaches itself.

    NCR was a ruse that worked when young people could not get their hands on authentic Church teaching. Fortunately those days are over.

    Servus, Robert Fox, Long Island, NY

  6. CathySue says:

    Archbishop Dolan, Thanks for sharing Bishop Tobins column. I really liked it. My daddy used to tell me that too often people waste precious time playing “aint it awful” rather than just going about getting the job done. I too, see so many wonderful, joyful people in the Catholic Church, doing wonderul good things. I’m no Polyanna. Bishop Tobins column is a wonderful reminder for me to stop ‘playing aint it awful.’ There is so much work to do. So, as we wait in joyful hope, God bless you, Archbishop and our Church, too!

  7. NYer says:

    Irene,
    With due respect, to say that the National Catholic Reporter is “very balanced and informative about local and national Catholic issues” is a tough sell, notwithstanding John Allen’s professional reporting. Apart from his reliable and balanced contributions, the newspaper is nothing but an adolescent forum of dissent.

    You are always in my prayers Archbishop!

  8. Tom says:

    Dear Archbishop Dolan,

    First off, I’d just like to say that I’m from the Archdiocese of San Antonio, and I only just stumbled across your blog recently and enjoy it very much! Thank you very much for sharing the article by your friend and fellow bishop. I’m not very good at getting my thoughts out very concisely, so I’ll just say this: there’s a lot of evil in this world, and I think it’s very easy for most people to lose both faith and hope. When I read the writings of people like you, Archbishop Dolan, or Bishop Tobin, I am reminded that during these dark times one should never allow themselves to despair; rather, recall the promise of Jesus to the Church: “…the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” With that confidence I find it much easier to find joy in even the most sorrowful of times. Peace be with you.

    Your brother in Christ,

    Tom

  9. Irene says:

    Hello NYer & Mr. Fox: I completely respect the fact that you do not share my admiration for NCR; different people have different tastes (you’ll never catch me reading The Remnant, for example). But a lot of us do like NCR. And your own criticisms are a far cry from what the Bishop said, calling NCR “a publication that makes its living reporting on, and sometimes actively promoting, the demise of the institutional Church”. Come on now. And does Bishop Tobin consider that applicable to Bishop Gumbleton, and all of the other clergy and religious who are regular contributors to NCR?”

    But my point is that the bishop’s comment is just gratuitously over-the-top mean spirited; it was unncessary to single the paper out for attack on an article about what positive things the Church is doing. I very much agree with the point of the thread that our Church is alive and well, with lay people and clergy doing wonderful things. But I think we would be even better off if our leaders didn’t casually create divisiveness and strife.

  10. Peter Nault says:

    Frankly many people sitting in the pews no longer have the respect they used to for the bishops’ moral teaching authority in the church. This authority has eroded since the revelation of how the sexual abuse scandals were swept under the rug in diocese after diocese, most recently in Philadelphia. There are still dioceses in the United States where the bishops have refused to implement any of the guidelines for protecting God’s children. Are bishops such monarchs that they can get away this? Can the apostolic delegate or the Pope do nothing about this?
    Meanwhile, it appears that the bishops spend their time at national meetings discussing whether “sending down your Spirit upon them like the dewfall” is the better linguistic way of praying the Canon of the Mass. Perhaps all of the time spent on revamping and retooling the order of the Mass for Advent 2011 could have been better spent on Evangelization and dealing with the gigantic problem of why people are no longer attending church services.

  11. VINCENT says:

    Dear Exellency, With all due respect to your self and your esteemed office please expain exactly why you refuse to uphold cannon 519. Govenor Cuomo and other politicians should not be allowed Holy Communion and the present Pope has explicitely stated so, as he did in his previous office, in agreement with Pope JPII.This abuse is a direct assualt on the Holy Eucharist, a sin for which you will some day answer for. Meanwhile untold damage is also done to the laity from sinfull leadership from Catholic Hiarchy, who preach and expect us to follow their leadership. May God have mercy on your immortal soul.

  12. AndyP/Doria2 says:

    The National Catholic Reporter is the magazine of dissent. It is one of the most dangerous anti Catholic magazine on the Planet. It is a forum for most dissenting, liberal, semi apostate catholics. Run from this apostate magazine.

    NY’s WABC radio show, religion on the line is a close second. The Deacon on that show is one of the most dangerous Catholics in America. I have heard him say more than once that there are many roads to Paradise when Jesus Himself said “I am the way the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father but through Me.” His everybody will get to Heaven attitude will end up damning many of his students to the abyss. My heart goes out to them.

  13. Robert Fox says:

    Dear Irene: Again, I do not wish to be unkind. I have read so many different forms of Catholic news since my return to the Faith in my early 20′s. I am now in my 50′s. I also do not read the Remnant. But not because it is a matter of TASTE. Taste has nothing to do with it. It has to with emphasis and orthodoxy.

    As the Great G.K. Chesterton once said; ‘There is nothing so exciting as orthodoxy’. I have often found NCR’s reporting to be quietly ‘laughing in a subtly derisive way’ at orthodoxy.

    Again, it’s not about taste… it’s about clearly articulating Church teaching on liturgy, sexual moral ethics, reverence for the Real Presence, respect for the dignity of priesthood and the sacerdotal nature of same. I see most (not all) of the writers in that publication as agitating for changes that 1.) Are harmful to the Faith, 2.) Have been tried and demonstrated to be failed novelties, 3.) Actually contribute to the demographic decline we are now seeing in Europe.

    I have a GREAT idea though. Instead of either one of us reading any Catholic ‘publications’… why not visit the Vatican website and read the great encyclicals? Let’s start with the great encyclical QUAS PRIMAS… This is the ENCYCLICAL OF POPE PIUS XI ON THE FEAST OF CHRIST THE KING.

    After reading that, you will never be tempted to read another ‘publication’ nor will I, without first asking ourselves this question: Is Christ the King of our Social Order?

    If the answer to that is YES, then everything else falls into place.

    I’m no longer interested in my own likes, dislikes, tastes. I care for that which the Church gives me in her councils and in her infallible documents. If a layman, a priest, a bishop, a cardinal contradicts that… I don’t listen to them.

    Ave Maria!

    Robert Fox, Long Island.

  14. Mary says:

    Andy P/Doria 2:
    Religion on the Line? Terrible…and truly dangerous, you’re so right. I don’t know how you can stand to listen to it. I’ve tried but it is unbearable. There is never even a hint of how heavenly the Catholic Church is. Or a boast (yes, BOAST, though humbly) that our Church is the only institution left on earth that is standing against the destruction of human life and traditional marriage. I don’t expect Fulton Sheen or St. Steven. Don’t get me wrong. But to cede the truth to “secular technocrats” as Archbishop Chaput calls them… to deliver such a watered down, get-along message, is almost, as my Italian mother would say, it’s almost sinful. Sorry. Ok. I’ll pray for the Deacon and all of us.