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Catechesis on the Church

Pope Francis began today a series of talks on the Church, which you can find here. I like his final questions, which reinforce one of his points: that the Church is something we participate in, so that we should speak of it in the first person plural ("we" and "us") and not in the third person singular (that thing over there).

Let us ask ourselves today: how much do I love the Church? Do I pray for her? Do I feel part of the family of the Church? What do I do so that it may be a community where everyone feels welcomed and understood, feels the mercy and love of God that renews life? Faith is a gift and an act that affects us personally, but God calls us to live our faith together, as a family, like the Church.

About the Author

Rev. Joseph A. Komonchak, professor emeritus of the School of Theology and Religious Studies at the Catholic University of America, is a retired priest of the Archdiocese of New York.



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Terrific questions. The reason so many of us are hoping that Francis helps renew the church. We long for this Eucharistic/sacramental unity. How will the pope help break up the clerical culture which is the biggest impediment for all to call it "our church?" He is on message. So welcome. How successful will he be?

The link doesn't work for me. It takes me to the following address, which is then redirected to my own mailbox:

I am not sure whether the problem is at my end or at the other end. Does anyone else have the same problem? I did find the talk on, though.


Me, too, the link takes me  directly to my g-mail account. (And I can't click back to the Comonweal page after).

Father Komonchak,

Thanks for pointing us to this wise and beautiful reflection by the Holy Father (although I also was sent to gmail.)  

[The Church is] is not an organization founded by an agreement among [a group of] persons, but - as we were reminded many times by Pope Benedict XVI - is the work of God: it was born out of the plan of love, which realises itself progressively in history. The Church is born from the desire of God to call all people into communion with Him, to His friendship, and indeed, as His children, to partake of His own divine life.

I hope that will put an end to the dreadful comparisons of the Church to a corporation.



I've fixed the link, I hope.

Claire:  I agree that the Church should not be compared to a corporation, but I've always had a problem with people neglecting the human dimension in the constitution of the Church by their emphasis on "the work of God." It seems to me that the Church comes to be, is constituted, by the acts of common meaning of its members, and that this agreement is precisely the effect of "the work of God."

"Do I feel part of the family of the Church?"

It depends on the definition - do I feel like part of the family of God? Of the church that is made up of ALL of God's people? Yes. 

Do I feel like part of the Roman Catholic church? Not much, not anymore. I do still feel part of it,but in a sad way - as in a relationship one has with estranged family members, estranged because the family is dysfunctional. At some point, some have to leave the dysfunctional family in order to maintain a semblance of mental and emotional health.

I cannot feel part of an institutional church that devalues women as the Roman Catholic church does. I cannot feel part of a church that denies the laity (who are "THE" church) any voice at all in the governance - unlike the Episcopal church and other Protestant churches, the laity have no rights or voice in the selection of their own priests, much less of their bishops - or are their insights and understanding asked for in the development of doctrine (not forgetting that Newman advised "consulting the faithful on matters of doctrine").  I cannot feel part of a church that more closely imitates empire than the community surrounding Jesus.

Perhaps Francis will change some of this. I will pray for that.

What do I do so that it may be a community where everyone feels welcomed and understood, feels the mercy and love of God that renews life?

Well, what *can* I do to make, for instance, LGBT people feel welcome or women feel like they're not second class citizens?  I could be nice to them at church, which I would do, but that will not make up for the ways they are marginalized by tthe doctrines and practices of the church - I have no power to change the way the church (the leadership) defines and treats them.

The link works now, thank you.

Anne, I think that here pope Francis is talking about the Church as the body of all the baptized, that is, not just Roman Catholics but also other Christians. We're part of a divided family. Maybe among Christians we Roman Catholics are the ones apparently in closest communion with God, in a bond that has never been visibly broken - like the elder son in the parable that starts the pope's reflection... 

Joe, I did not notice anything contentious in those lines I quoted. Is your point to draw a distinction between "the work of God" (calling people to gather with/in/through him) and "the effect of the work of God" (people gathering because they're called)? But pope Francis doesn't just say "is"  but also "is born out of" and "is born from", and you don't have an issue with the second and third descriptions, do you? I suppose that it all depends upon what the meaning of the word "is" is... The Church "is" the work of God in the same way that Robert "is" the son of Claire (if I may draw an analogy between God and myself!): true and important, but not an exhaustive description of Robert, only one element. Of course I'm behind you when you say that the act of the people joining is constitutive of the Church, an element without which it would not exist. A mere plan, be it of God, does not suffice to make the Church any more than my fantasies about having a son suffice to "be" Robert independently of his coming into existence. Personally I don't see anything to argue about there.

I love the italics button in the new style of this blog!


Before Humanae Vitae was issued, I think the Vatican did consult the faithful, at least a few of them,  on a matter of doctrine, and then spurned the recommendation that was made. If I say that the Vatican is unlikely to make that mistake again, I leave it to others to guess which mistake I mean.

I'm not very good at it yet,  but I've been consciously trying to just give people the benefit of the doubt. I know that's a long way from being welcoming,  but I figure it's a start: just not being automatically suspicious of people who think and act differently than me.  And to try not to subject people to any kind of litmus test on issues I care about, just as I would not want to be subjected to some kind of test on other peoples' issues. 

I think we need to be welcoming, because we each of us find different kinds of things objectionable, and if we excluded people on that basis, there would be nobody at all left  in the  Church.

Claire:   In one of my last courses taught, when I proposed that the Church be understood to be constituted by the subjectivity and inter-subjectivity of its members, that is, that its ontology was subjective, one of the students objected. He wanted something more solid--think of that rock on which Christ said he would build his Church--something more "objective." So I asked what this something was, if not a group of people who believe that "God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself," and such believing is a subjective event, an event within what Bernard Lonergan called "the world constituted by meaning and value."


Indeed. If you say the Church is essentially a group of people who believe that "God is in Christ reconciling the world to himself", then more or less anyone can agree. People from other religions, people who do not have any religious belief. Accepting that statement doesn't involve any belief. It's just a definition a minima, a mere non-committal statement of a fact that implies nothing about the veracity of those people's beliefs. I'm not sure what could be more "objective".

Sometimes statements about the Church are inflated, with long sequences of lyrical superlatives when people get carried away. As a stand-alone statement this is the opposite and looks rather deflated. Isn't it a bit underwhelming? 

I say "more or less", because it also appears to exclude those who were raised as Christians but who have moved away from the Church, and to question the many who are uncertain of their belief.

Perhaps this is not a theological problem so much as a psychological one. Who is "we," "us," "ours," really?

Am reminded of this old joke: The Lone Ranger and Tonto are in a fierce gun fight with a band of Apaches. The Lone Ranger says, "We have to get out of here Tonto." Tonto replies, "What do you mean "we," Kimo Sabe?


An excellent reflection by the Holy Father.

Subjectivity often gets a bad rap in Catholic theology. It''s treated as if it refers to some sort of shadow reality. But as Augustine (I doubt, therefore I am") and Descartes (I think , thereforeI am") made clear our knowledge of the existence of our own subjectivity is more sure than our knowledge of any other obect or kind of object. Part of the problem is the ambiguity of the word "Object". . .

Yes, it seems to me that it's a psychological problem.

Thanks for introducing me to the Lone Ranger! What else is out there that I don't know about??

I loved that old joke.

Claire:    One of the oldest designations of the Church is that it is the congregatio [or convocatio] fidelium, the assembly of believers, which I think is the primary notion both sociologically and theologically. Sociologically, it distinguishes the Church from other groups of people who assemble for other reasons or for other purposes. Theologically, it points to what is absolutely primary in Christianity (after, that is, the grace of God): faith, without which there are no sacraments, which is the beginning of justification, etc.  And this, of course, is not some vague faith (I once heard someone suggest this as a defintion of faith: "reality perceived as gift"); it is faith in Jesus Christ, for which I gave one of the earliest and briefest statements, from St. Paul. 

It does exclude people who don't believe in Christ and people who no longer believe in Christ, but why would such people want to be included in a community that defines itself by what it believes about Jesus of Nazareth?  

"Glorious things are said of you, O city of God," says the Psalm-verse the Fathers liked to refer to the Church, and indeed of the underwhelming assembly of believers the New Testament permits us to say that it is the People of God, the Body of Christ, the Temple of the Spirit, and much more. But that's the basic mystery of the Church as described in Lumen gentium, a human, all too-human cmmunity of men and women of whom glorious things are said, and true.


Anne:  if you .... or anyone else .... will be in San Francisco on Thursday, July 18th, please come to Most Holy Redeemer that evening and hear Episcopal bishop Gene Robinson address our community.  He is a very effective speaker and so approachable compared to any RC bishop I have ever met.


Very nice. Actually I had not recognized "the assembly of believers" in "a group of people who believe that God is in Christ reconciling the world to himself". Why not?  An outsider, even a hostile one, could say that the Church is merely "a group of people who believe that God is in Christ reconciling the world to himself", but I have more difficulty envisioning that person saying that the Church is "the assembly of believers". I get the impression that there are slight differences that give a different tone: "The" suggests that there is only one - more unity. "Assembly" states that they gather, which "a group of people" doesn't necessarily imply - more community. Even the "believers", for some reason, sounds to my ears like a pumped up version of  "believe that God is in Christ reconciling the world to himself", maybe because the more extensive version is so carefully neutral as to almost suggest disbelief, while I read "believers" to mean that the speaker probably adheres to those beliefs (so clear that they do not need to be spelled out) - more faith. But maybe I'm just making this up. (And how is "of" better in one than in the other? I got stumped on that one!)

I wonder what expression pope Francis will take up next?

It does exclude people who don't believe in Christ and people who no longer believe in Christ, but why would such people want to be included in a community that defines itself by what it believes about Jesus of Nazareth?  


And yet, I'd think that, in any given assembly of the faithful, there is a number, perhaps a larger percentage than many of us would guess, who are at various stages of strugging with the belief they profess about Jesus of Nazareth.  But faith, it seems to me, operates on other levels besides the intellectual plane; sometimes our hearts affirm what our brains trip over.  Or so it seems to me.  The priest in the Exorcist (the novel, anyway; I've never seen the film) is in a crisis of faith yet acquits hiimself by the end as a man of faith.

You absoluely must see the movie. (I watch it from time to time because one of my best teachers in college had a bit part in it; and I like to see Fr. Bermingham again, he was just so great).  But even today the movie is still lreally, really scary. 

Jim, I agree. What to say about those raised as Christians, who reject the whle shebang as teenagers, convert back when they get married and have kids, then slowly drift away and find themselves agnostics in midlife? in-out-in-out... how many flip-flops? It's a bit like the many marriages and divorces of those who fall in and out of love. There's a lack of solidity in those fluctuating states of mind that is a little bit difficult to grasp and, for those of us who like clarity, to accept. But maybe that's how it is: the great mass of Christians is vague, indistinct, evolving, and porous. We just have to accept the uncertainty.

Claire -- 

I  think that a big part of the problem for the older generations is that we we taught that "the Faith" was a lot surer than it actually is, so sure that it is a big sin to doubt it .  When some of the people who were brought up to be so rigid find that there are real problems in what we have been taught, they think the whole thing is a sham from the beginning and just give up.  Others waver, especially because they no longer accept *any* guidance from their bishops.  Once again, the bishops are the key. 

I wonder how many among the bishops have also had their problems with the Faith as it thas been taught.  How do they justify keeping their mouths shut?  But that, it has become obvious, is the first rule for a bishop:  keep your mouth shut, do not admit the problems.  Sigh.

Claire, your description of the people reminds me of the "crowds" in the Gospel of Matthew. Jesus seems so touched by their plight, and keeps on saying that they are like sheep without a shepherd. But they are hard to figure out, somewhat neutral, confused, volatile, lost at times, yet also at times, eager to listen... though sadly, never too good at understanding.

Still, Ann is on to something, too: in many ways the shepherds we have don't seem to be much help. 


Interesting comment about "the crowds".   Were the crowds what we sometimes call these days "ttribes"?    Groups have different sorts of identity and they change -- consider also the crowd that called for Jesus' death -- was it a mob?  I wonder sometimes whether some people leave the Church because they feel that that is the way the Church is going, so they leave too.  Spiritually they think leaving has become the thing to do.

Scripture also refers to "the multitude", which seeems to imply that at least at times there was great variety in Jesus' audiences.  He also talks about His "flock",  and later there is "the assembly".  I wonder what all those words imply about what the Church is meant to be.  And how are individuals supposed to fit in?  Or even not fit in.

I like the definiton of the RCC as the People of God who believe in the fundamentals of the our faith, the NT and Christ. [I realize that the 'fundamentals of our faith' is a complex and disputed term within the Church.] On the other hand, the RCC as an 'assembly of believers' can apply to most Christian Churches. However, can an "assembly of believers" be both sociologically and theologically correct if not all the assembly believe in all the social and theological ethical teachings of the Church? My guess it, it can, and does.

As for those excuded from this definition, they are not just those that don't believe in Christ. Consider those who are driven from the Church because of RCC teachings that demoralize and disenfrancize many of the baptized who grew up and were educated Catholic, but who are told they are "disordered" in some way (those with a same-sex orientation). To be a member in good standing before God, they must live a life of sexual abstinence and can never be in a "blessed marriage or holy union" under any circumstances.

Add to this fact that a much larger group (e.g., about 50% of Cathollc marriages end in divorce) are disenfrancized because they cannot remarry. If they do they are told they are excluded from the sacrament of reconciliation and Eucharistic reception. In other words, the innocent spouse in many diviorces and remarriages, like people with a same-sex orientation, must live a life of sexual abstinece. Many people who are in these two groups are not part of the RCC 'assembly of believers' for the 'people of God' because they leave (driven from?) the RCC for two reasons:

1. It is almost impossible to live a life of sexual abstinence for this is a gift from God given to the very few, and

2. They are told they are corupting their God-given human integrity either because they have some type of diabolic disorder, or they are living in adultery.

 The definition of the "people of God or the assembly of believers" is different among Christian Churches. To whit, one can be a member in good standing in this 'assembly' or "people of God" and not be Catholic.



Susan, yes, I would not have thought of it but you are right. 


Michael, the Church with a capital "C" goes beyond the Roman Catholic church. For The Vatican II decree on ecumenism says, for example: "People who believe in Christ and have been truly baptized are in communion with the Catholic Church even though this communion is imperfect. The differences that exist in varying degrees between them and the Catholic Church - whether in doctrine and sometimes in discipline, or concerning the structure of the Church - do indeed create many obstacles, sometimes serious ones, to full ecclesiastical communion. The ecumenical movement is striving to overcome these obstacles. But even in spite of them it remains true that all who have been justified by faith in Baptism are members of Christ's body". 


Thanks for the clarification and your thoughts.

Indeed the Christian communion is imperfect but also faithful, loving and enlightening. We live in mystery but also in confidence but not certainty. The Catholic and other Christian churches have always been in profound disagreement regarding certain teachings, and wiithin each church there are those that suffer from these teachings (e.g., the examples I mentioned). We suffer along with them for we are a commuinity of believers united into the one body of Christ. We are all called by Christ to help the disenfrancized and to move the conversation forward toward a better understanding of the truth (emphasis-added).

I don't doubt the strvings of the ecumenical movement to overcome these obsticles. I question the degree of such strivings and the results to date since Vatican II. This does not mean that we have not made progress, but on many important issues we have not come very far. Thus we have inconsistency and sometimes contradiction, but what is important is never to allow such disagreements or disappointments to interfere with our relationships with Christ or in the hope for the RCC. Unfortunately, many do not see it that way and have left the RCC or have become spiritual but not religious.



"Others waver, especially because they no longer accept *any* guidance from their bishops.  Once again, the bishops are the key.

Ann, you are so very right!  Once a person loses trust in the bishops' ability to make sound moral judgments (and they did anything but make sound moral decisions when they decided to protect pedophile priests), it is hard to trust them when it comes to any moral guidance. The bishops have not shown through either words or actions that they can be trusted.


Yes.  Sadly, the American bishops have yet to connect their own failure to tell the truth  with the faithful's subsequent total mistrust of them.  Many of the faithful think:  why should we trust those liars about *anything*?  After 20 years of scandal they still don't get it!! 

 It's tragic.  No, it's worse than tragic.  At least in a tragedy the tragic hero ultimately has a moment of illumination, a moment of truth when he understand his own failure and his own responsibilit for that failure.  Not so with most of the American bishops.  Even the better ones continue to close ranks with the others and refuse to denounce the others' sins.  Yes, sins.    

Fortunately, there have been other bishops, other teachers.

I don't know if one can connect the uncertain beliefs of many Christians with the failures of bishops. Can bishops really be held responsible for people not believing in Christ? Isn't that a little much to expect from them?

My ideal bishop is neither seen nor heard. He acts behind the scenes to encourage people's initiatives and to take care of his priests, but we are barely aware of his existence. He never stirs up anger and resentment, and never causes people to leave the Catholic church. We don't even remember his name. That's the best kind of bishop I have known.



My best bishop, Archbishop Rummel, was anythinb but silent.  He spoke out loudly and persistently against segregation when hardly anybody else around did.  At first most people couldn't stand him, and many even despised him, but he won them over and was highly revered at the end, and not just by Catholics.

My bishop only speaks about following Christ and his teachings. Make no mistake about it, my bishop is a very nice man, holy and concerned about shepharding his flock. However, he, like so many other bishops, have serious imperfections that cause part of the problem.

He never mentions any issue that is controversial. He speaks in generalities, like "today's culture is a me-too culture with too much individualism." One gets the message that individualism is the primary cause of non-reception and that Catholics are either in the "culture of death" or in "the culture of life". You are either a faithful Catholic or unfaithful. What bishops fail to address and articulate is that most Catholics are against abortion on demand for any reason. They will not address the fact that for the majority of Catholics it is not immoral to terminate a pregnancy when the mother's life is threatened with certainty and the fetus cannot survive under any circumstances. They don't go there because that would mean getting into "details". So they remain "silent" or they simply say under no circumstances can one terminate life. When it comes to the Phoenix case, the Church would rather have two people die than to save one life, the mother, even when the fetus will die with certainty either way.

In my 30 + years of weekly church attendance, I don't remember any priest or bishop ever speaking adequately from the pulpit or sponsoring a separate session for parishioners about the details regarding: contraception for good reasons, the denial of the sacrament of reconciliation and Eucharistic reception for the divorced and remarrired, the role of women religious, same-sex orientation/marriage/adoption, in vitro fertilization for couples with serious fertility issues, the child sex abuse scandal by clergy and the coverup...the list goes on. All I have ever heard is that we should pray for the victims of clergy sex abuse and the fact that the crimes were despicable. There was never any mention of justice and accountability for those who committed the crimes or for those who covered it up. 

Yet, in private counselling sessions with my parish priest I get a different story. For example, he leaves the decision of birth control to newly marrired couples based on their informed conscience (after attending a NFP session), and he has no problem with same-sex civil unions, and disagrees with official teachings on other issues.  Inconsistency, contradiction? 

Make no mistake about what I am saying. I agree with my parish priest. However, the degree of disagreement among priests (and some bishops) regarding many official teachings is both profound and "silent", as in the "silent pulpit". No priest or bishop dares to speak "publically" against the magisterium for retribution. Yet, many priests will speak their minds in contradiction with official teachings in private counselling sessions with parishioners. Does this not fuel non-reception?

Bishops who hidden behind the scenes and are silent are not speaking out on the issues that divide our Church for fear of the consequences. They also do nothing to enforce certain teachings or remind Catholics of things like "intrinsically evil actions", "sacrilege", and the requirements of Euharistic reception despite USCCB guidelines. All the guidelines and formal policies regarding these issues are nothing more than empty words that are written and forgotten about. If they believe or not in these teachings, then be hot or cold but not luke-warm about it. Resolve the problem of non-reception or change the teaching.

How can there be good catechesis if there is inconsistency and contradiction? No one likes to talk about these things because there appears that there is nothing one can do. However, until the pope and the hierarchy solidifies the RCC and resolves these kinds of divisions and contradictions, each of us are called to do our part, however small, to move the conversation forward toward a better undersanding of the truth. This also means demanding accountabilty and responsibility for effective church governance.




Michael B. --

I agree that if many priests are disagreeing with the Church in private that this probably has something to do with the priest shortage.  Who would want to become a priest if he had to say one thing publicly but the opposite in private?  That this must be happening accounts for why all the new young priests are only those who think Church teachings are all correct.  And it probably accounts for why there are so few young priests.  They cannot take those solemn vows knowing they don't mean them.

How do the catechists handle their disagreements when they have them?  Do they just present the matters as de facto what the Church teaches and let it do at that?  What if they are asked for their opinion by some tendentious kid?  Are they allowed to teach if the pastor also dissents from certain teachings?  Or what?  Have any studies been done of *these* problems? 


The opposition by priests to the teaching that contraception is immoral is not based on the shortage of priests. Several surveys of priests have been conducted over the past 40 years and each tell the same story. I believe that Fr. Greeley mentioned 2 of them in an article in America magazine some time ago (don't know the year): the National Federation of Priest Councils conducted by Life Cycle Institute of Catholic University, and a LA Times survey. Both reported that 75% of priests favor contraception (only 25% disapprove of it). 

A 1994 LA Times Survey of Priests and Nuns reported that 44% of priests think using artificial methods of birth control is seldom a mortal sin. In 1996, a survey of the priests of England and Wales reported that 43% of priests oppose the teaching on contraception and another 19% were unsure.

As for how catechists handle questions of disagreement about contraception, I have no idea.

IMO, the key statistic is that very few Catholics practice NFP. There are many surveys on Catholic practices and they all point in one direction. In 2007, the late Dean Hoge of Catholic University of America conducted a survey by Catholic age cohorts. Only about 10% of Catholics in every age cohort beleive contraception is always morally wrong. For those that attend weekly Mass, 64% believe that you can be a good Catholic without obeying the Church teaching on birth control; 52% believe you can be a good Catholic without obeying the Church teaching on divorce and remarriage; and 40% believe that you can be a good Catholic without obeying the Church teaching on abortion.

Given those statistics, it not perplexing why Catholics do not confess contraception as a sin in confession. For those very few Catholics that do confess it as a sin but continue to practice it, the priest gives absolution based on the "principle of graduation" for habitual sinners. This is based on the philosophy that frequent prayer, sacrament and striving will bring Catholics to their senses and embrace the truth about the evil of contraception and stop sinning. Yet, in contradiction, the principle of graduation is not given to other "habitual sinners", like the divorced and remarried who are practicing illicit sex in the eyes of the Church. 

In conclusion, the issue of dissent and silence by priests as it applies to contraception and other teachings is a common pastoral practice that does not get any attention for it is hidden from public debate. No pope, bishop, priest or those in Rome, want to deal with scandal, inconsistency and contradiction. As far as Rome is concerned, there is only the official Church teaching. Yet, they don't want to enforce official Church teachings because of the consequences.



Given those statistics, it is not perplexing why Catholics do not confess contraception as a sin in confession.

Actually that and other controversial questions block people from going to confession: we don't know how to deal with something which we know is taught to be sinful, but which we do not recognize to be sinful. We have to confess it, because we're not supposed to voluntarily omit anything we're aware of. We cannot confess it, because we have no contrition and no resolve not to do it again. So, what to do? Just skip confession.



I don't believe that controverisal issues, such as contraception, prevent Catholics from going to confession. For example, I do not agree with many Church teachings for good philosophical and theological reasons. When I moved to a new location about 6 years ago, I wanted to join one of two local parishes. However, before doing so, I had a meeting with the local priest at each parish. I wanted to know if any of my disagreements would prevent me from participating in Mass, receiving the Eucharist or being a member of the Church in good standing. Both meetings were frank and respectful where I explained the issues I had a problem with, and how I arrived at my conclusions while still be open to further advice and education. 

Both priests (in these 2 parishes) had no issue with the fact that I did not consider contraception as immoral for good reasons, nor were they against same-sex civil unions. I was favorablly surprised and glad. The most important thing they told me was that one should never allow disagreements to prevent one from interfering with their relationship with Christ.

As for Church teachings, one priest told me (as a reaction to a question I posed) that a married women with children whose life is threatened by another pregnancy can be sterilized as a means to safe-guard her life. This is not the official Church teaching. Most people don't realize that artificial contraception is considered by the RCC as a moral absolute, meaning that under no circumstances, ends or intentions can it be licit. Most Catholics think that there are "exceptions" to this teaching and are shocked to find out that there are none. 

MY POINT: When I was young and practicing contraception, I never confessed it as a sin because my parish priest told me that it was a decision of my informed conscience. Thus, there was no problem in choosing this form of birth control for I had 2 children and wanted no more for good reasons. However, if a child was conceived by accident, my wife and I would have accepted this child into our family with unconditional love. This I believe is the experience of many Catholics. Many of them go to confession, for we all are sinners, but just do not confess contraception as a mortal sin.





Pope Francis began today a series of talks on the Church, which you can find here.

Is that not continuing? I was looking forward to part 2 but yesterday he talked about something else.


Thanks for Pope Francis's talk.

Pope Francis says we should come out of our individualism and love the Church, God and neighbor. If the definition of individualism is a person that does not have God in their lives, who believes that happiness in this world can be achieved through money and technology, where everything one does is for oneselve, then I ask how many Catholics fall into this definition? If there are degrees of individualism, where is the balance or line between loving God and neighbor and the immorality of individualism?

Without specifics, these well-meaning suggestions are abstactions that do not help us to understand precisely where the slippery slope is that we should avoid, and the virtues we should be striving to embrace within reason?



Michael, our model for the degrees of individualism is Jesus Christ. Where was his balance? How much of himself did he hold back, and how much did he give away? Nothing, and everything. Did he embrace virtues "within reason"? No, he embraced them beyond reason. That's our model: throw away balance and abandon yourself to God. (We're going to do it one day whether we want to or not, at the time of our death.)

Naturally, I am not like Christ, so I don't do that. But it's not a matter of finding the right balance but of being imperfect.

Second talk of the series:


Today I would like to touch briefly on another of the terms with which the Second Vatican Council defined the Church, that of “People of God"

There is a paragraph similar to the one quoted in the post: 

It is through Baptism that we are introduced to this people, through faith in Christ, the gift of God which must be nurtured and tended to throughout our whole life. Let us ask ourselves: how can I grow in the faith that I received in my Baptism? How do tend to this faith that I have received and that the people of God has? How do I make it grow?


Then yesterday at Mass the pastor of the parish I was visiting suggested that the sinful woman in the gospel reading represented the Church! 

Sounds like your pastor may have read the Fathers.  There's scarcely a woman in the Scriptures, including the prostitutes, whom they did not see as a symbol of the Church.

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