Beware Those Who Push "Relevance" at the Expense of Truth

Ary Scheffer (1795–1858), "The Temptation of Christ"
Ary Scheffer (1795–1858), "The Temptation of Christ" (photo: Register Files)

Beware those who warn the Church of being out of step with the age. Statistics belie their notions.

In these past fifty years of the cultural revolution the Church has often been scolded and warned by the most radical proponents of the revolution. We are told that if we do not conform to and celebrate to the new parameters of marriage, family, sexuality, life, choice, gender, secularism, relativism, reductionism and every other “ism” you can imagine, the Church will become irrelevant and dismissed as of no account to a world “come of age” and newly liberated from old structures and strictures.

We were told that married couples would abandon us in droves due to our “silly and out of touch teaching” on contraception, divorce and remarriage. We were told that women would abandon us in great numbers for our failure to ordain women as priests. We were told that young people would abandon us for our “out-of-date” notions on sexuality and marriage. We are now told that we are destined for obscurity for our failure to hang out rainbows sanctioning and celebrating same-sex, trans-sex and other forms of what the Scriptures and Sacred Tradition have always call illicit sexual union.

In one, qualified sense the doomsayers were right. Church attendance among Catholics was once close to 70% on Sunday. Now it would seem that 20-25% attend. Many parishes in the Northeast have been shuttered, though many new parishes are opening in the “Bible Belt.” Although the number of Catholics in this land has grown overall, the number who regularly attend has dropped overall, or held steady, when it should have grown. 

But there is a big problem with the nations of the doomsayers as well. Those denominations that have ceded to all the demands of the cultural revolution in this country have been far more devastated in numbers and percentage attending than the Catholic Church and Pentecostal denominations who have held the line on biblical moral teaching.

The so-called mainline (liberal) Protestant denominations have largely adopted a “give the people what they want” mentality. And thus same-sex unions, “gay” clergy, women in ministerial leadership, pro-choice stances, contraception, euthanasia, and you name it… are all acceptable and even celebrated by these old mainline Protestant groups such as the Episcopalians, Methodists, U.C.C., most Lutherans, Presbyterians and the like. The result? A devastating loss of members for them.

The Episcopal Church has gone from 3.6 million members in 1966 to 1.8 million last year [1]. In the Lutheran Church (ECLA)  From 2003 to 2011 alone, average weekly worship attendance dropped 26 percent [2]. The Presbyterian Church (PCUSA) has declined 24% in the just the past six years (over 100,000 few members) [3]

These denominations and others like them have been very compliant with the demands of the cultural revolution and the result is the same: a hemorrhaging of members. 

By contrast, the self-identified (US Census) Catholic population of this country has grown from 74 million in 2005 to 79 million in 2014, and the number of Catholics reported thorough her own census data has grown from 64 million in 2005 to 66 million in 2015.

To be sure, however, the number of Catholics with a sacramentally vigorous faith life has declined significantly since the 60s from 55% practicing to 24% last year, but the overall attendance in the pews nationwide is steady but not growing in the period from 2005 to 2014. [4] Large numbers of immigrants from Catholics countries have helped our numbers.

Thus, while we in the Catholic Church have been promised decline into obscurity, we have actually held our own compared to the compliant denominations that swallowed the proverbial Kool-Aid.

Be wary, fellow Catholics, of the doomsayers who would try and shame or fear-monger us into compliance with this “present evil age” (cf. Gal 1:4). The culture of death by definition cannot bring or give life. We do have reason to be sober at the steady erosion of the percentage of Catholics practicing their faith. This is due most surely to the overall secularism of our times. But to argue it is due primarily to our moral teachings is not supported by the comparative data as listed above.

My own anecdotal experience is that most Catholics have not walked out in a huff over our teachings on life, sexuality or the reservation of the priesthood to men. Rather, most of them have drifted away. Some have joined the Pentecostal denominations, but most just go nowhere. They are one confession away from returning, if we will continue to call them.

Thus, whatever the cultural revolutionists tell us, or however they seek to give us “friendly advice” to make our Church “relevant” and popular, remember two things:

  1. They do not have our best interest at heart, whatever sheep’s clothing they wear.
  2. The job of the Church is not to reflect the views of our culture, or even the views of her members. The job of the Church is to report the views of her Head and Founder, Jesus Christ. His unabridged gospel may go in and out of season, but in the end, his Church is indefectible and will be here long after the current madness has self-destructed.  
The governor, a Catholic, said in a statement that “discrimination is not a Louisiana value,” explaining his decision to veto the bill.

Louisiana Governor Vetoes Women’s Sports Bill

“This legislation ensures that female athletes in Louisiana are able to compete on a level playing field,” Holcomb said of the Louisiana bill. “Allowing males to compete in girls’ sports is discriminatory and destroys fair competition and women’s athletic opportunities.”

The U.S. Capitol dome is seen as Congress resumed on June 21 in Washington.

USCCB Pro-Life Secretariat: Congress Must Prevent Taxpayer-Funded Abortion

‘I believe unborn children need the president of the United States and members of Congress on both sides of the aisle to be their friends and advocates,’ said Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., on Tuesday, before the House of Representatives on Wednesday rejected an opportunity to vote on a prohibition of taxpayer-funded abortion.