Friday, December 30, 2011
I don't think they were exceptions as Orthodox, they were both baptised as Orthodox and had a sense of being "culturally" Orthodox, they had their own morality and their own theology too, they were vaguely anti-clerical in that they expected the clergy to be human and they were superstitious too. They were almost independent of the Church and yet they had a relationship with the Church, albeit a peripheral relationship.
On the whole they were like the majority of Catholics, certainly of a previous age, who were both attached and detached from the Church; let us call them a "peripheral" Catholics.
If they were Irish, Archbishop Martin might suggest they came to a mature judgement about whether they remained in the Church or left. If they were American their gift, because they were "pro-abort", would certainly raise an eyebrow in many quarters. If they were English we might be a little sniffey about them not being evangelised and, if they requested sacraments for themselves or their children, attempt to do some evangelisation. Indeed they would probably consider themselves lapsed, or "post-Catholic", they would certainly, I suspect feel less comfortable within Church today than they might have done a century ago.
I think there are several factors that make being a "peripheral" Catholic, more difficult today, in the last century the Church has changed.
The Church's increased forceful moral teaching, concerning abortion, sex and sexuality is certainly one factor, coupled with the expectation that everyone should receive Holy Communion has brought a sharp divide between those who can keep the Church's teaching and those who can't. I wonder if this is reason for the loss of so many of the young.
Another factor is the vernacularisation and simplification of the liturgy: now you have to speak, before you could remain silent; now you have to understand, before you could remain in the mystery of ignorance.
The problem is that "peripheral" Catholics could always be encouraged to advance a little further into the Church, their increased loss means that invariably they now become antagonistic towards the Church of their forefathers.
Posted by Fr Ray Blake