Catholicism has long called upon its people to be thinking people, to receive the faith and to engage it intellectually, emotionally, and of course spiritually. Cathleen Kaveny, an eminently thoughtful Catholic, theologian and civil lawyer, professor at the University of Notre Dame, wrote an article in the October 22 edition of Commonweal entitled:
WHY SOME DEVOUT CATHOLICS ARE LEAVING THE CHURCH
The content and thrust of her words will surely prove uncomfortable to some – perhaps to many. And so they should. But that discomfort must not be equivalent to dismissing what she has to say. Denial is fast becoming too frequently a characteristic of defenders of the faith. It need not be so. Denial will never equal one, holy, catholic, and apostolic for staying power.
It would seem to me rather that Professor Kaveny’s words need to be taken with great seriousness, their import assessed, and believers – Catholic and non-Catholic, traditional and progressive – called to enter into dialogue on the issues at hand, and their import. Cardinal Joseph Bernardin of happy memory called for such dialogue years ago. Despite good effort, it seems his invitation has been more honored in silence than in open response. To the extent this is true the attrition Kaveny delineates, which also has been named recently by Peter Steinfels in another thoughtful essay (http://commonwealmagazine.org/further-adrift), grows only more profound. The Pew Forum study of last year affirmed that a full one-third of those who began life as Roman Catholics in the USA have left for another church, or more likely, no church.
For those who believe that something vital is at stake in human ears and hearts being touched by the Gospel of Christ, the responsibility to take this challenge to heart is mightily clear. Read on!