The Catholic Church needs to remember and promote what makes itself distinctly Catholic. Why?
Because, for one reason, there are people out there making powerful, though flawed, arguments like the ones in the video below. The video reminds viewers that you “don’t need a church to GIVE” and encourages people to “give DIRECTLY to a cause dear to your heart, essential to your community and worthy of your support.” Causes that don’t “manipulate the penitence of their disciples.” The implication in the video is that religion is just an unnecessary type of middleman that gets unfair tax breaks and skims the top off of charitable giving for its own enrichment.
Of course there are some churches that unfortunately do that (and the video seems to focus more on independent “mega-churches”). But, all in all, the viewpoint of the video is largely ignorant to the typical and historical charitable work of the Church at large. The problem is that less and less people understand that and are buying into arguments like the one in this video. The video is disingenuous propaganda that exploits false public perception. But it’s effective, nonetheless.
And part of the reason it’s effective is because it is exploiting one aspect of the Church’s flawed evangelism in recent decades. Too many people have reduced the Church to simply a humanist charitable organization whose main purpose is achieving some kind of temporal social justice. If that’s all the Church is, then it’s simply a matter of personal preference whether I support her or some other charitable organization. Aside from—you know—missing the entire point of our religion, reducing the Church like this negates and downplays the Church’s biggest evangelical strategic advantage: its Catholicness. You know, the whole part about the salvation of your eternal soul, the sacraments, the fullness of Truth and the opportunity to regularly have a uniquely intimate encounter with the creator of the entire universe as he literally becomes part of your Body and you a part of his in the Eucharist.
Parishes who don’t forget what makes them distinctly Catholic are thriving, not dying. Religious orders who are embracing their Catholicness rather than downplaying it are growing, not shrinking. And in a world where people have forgotten all of this, we are to be the light on the hill that draws them back and lifts them up.
Here’s the video. Let me know what you think in the comments below: