What a bishop realised at his consecration
At The Wanderer, Bishop Joseph Strickland remembered the moment of his episcopal ordination. Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, who ordained him, “asked me several questions, two of which are vital to my mission as a bishop. First, ‘Are you resolved to be faithful and constant in proclaiming the Gospel of Christ?’ and second, ‘Are you resolved to maintain the deposit of faith, entire and incorrupt, as handed down by the Apostles and professed by the Church everywhere and at all times?’ My response to both questions was a resounding ‘I am!’”
This was a defining moment, Bishop Strickland recalled, making him realise that he must pass on the dogmas of the faith. Sadly, dogmas are often downplayed today. But as the Catechism teaches, “Dogmas are lights along the path of faith; they illuminate it and make it secure.”
How bad is the bad news about decline?
In the New York Times, Ross Douthat asked just how bad the decline of American Christianity has become. True, Douthat said, a new Pew survey “shows a definite decline in weekly churchgoing, alongside the growing disaffiliation of people who once would have been loosely attached to churches and denominations”.
But recent Gallup numbers suggest that the decline is mostly among cultural Catholics, Christmas-and-Easter Methodists and so on. “Weekly and almost-weekly church attendance” has only fallen slightly: 42 to 38 per cent over a decade. Moreover, church affiliation has held up surprisingly well among the younger generation. “Measured by religious affiliation, yes, the millennial generation is the most secular in modern American history. Measured by religious attendance, they are the least churched of American adults.”
But then church attendance often falls when people leave home and increases “with the encroachment of mortality. And when the political scientist Ryan Burge recently compared weekly church attendance among today’s twenty-somethings to weekly attendance among twenty-somethings in the 1990s, he actually found a tiny increase: Church attendance has been falling among the middle-aged and early elderly cohorts, but the typical millennial or Gen Z American is slightly more likely to be a weekly churchgoer than a Generation-Xer circa 1995.” So “boomer individualism” is more responsible for declining numbers than “some unique millennial apostasy”.
Two small victories amid the outrages
At Aleteia, Tom Hoopes said that, though it’s tempting to focus on “the latest outrage”, we need to focus on the light. That’s what Fr Jacob Boddicker did, posting on Facebook about the good news he sees in his corner of the world. For instance, “Two people who had not been to Confession in many, many years finally came to our Lord’s mercy this weekend.” And a young woman cried with joy when the Eucharist was brought to her.
These, Fr Boddicker wrote, are “little flowers … little victories granted here on my small patch of the Lord’s campaign against hell.”
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