Saturday, August 18, 2012

Church-weary ..

In his book A New Song For The Lord, Pope Benedict begins his second chapter with the following words:

To a large extent it is characteristic of the situation of faith and theology in Europe today that people are weary of the Church.

Weary of the Church - arresting, simple and so true. Every day I meet people in my work as hospital chaplain whose eyes glaze over when they see the priest. They are not interested in Church or the things or people of Church. They will say: Jesus yes, the Church no.

Pope Benedict sheds light on this modern phenomenon by first identifying it as a christological and not an ecclesiological problem. He maintains that what people are really saying is: Jesus yes, Christ no or Jesus yes, Son of God no

Modern man is hungry for Jesus but only for the man, not for the Son of God, or what the Church or the Gospels say about him.

His human side touches us; the profession that he is God's only-begotten Son merely seems to alienate him from us, to transpose him into the inaccessible, the unreal and to surrender him simultaneously to the management of ecclesiastical authority. Separating Jesus and Christ is at the same time separating Jesus and the Church: Christ is left to the Church since he seems to be her handiwork; in shoving Christ aside one hopes to win Jesus and with him a new form of freedom, of "redemption."

The Pope, of course, goes on to describe very exactly how things got to be like this and it's rather interesting. I'll come back to the topic another time.


  1. He (Pope Benedict) is hitting on a few points that I hope others will join him in examining. I've always thought of the Church as the vehicle that remind me, brought me, and gave me hope in Him.


  2. Father you speak of being a hospital chaplain. Are their any Church guidelines re the distribution of Holy Communion to people in hospital? A friend of mine told me that the pp has instructed the hospital ministers not to ask if the people wish to see a priest but to give the Host to any Catholic who asks for it.

    I am concerned about the lessening of reverence for the Blessed Sacrament in the Church today and this practise seems to make it ok to receive Holy Communion without confessing grave sins.


  3. Dear Victoria,
    For people in hospital the fasting rules do not apply. They may receive at any time. However, the requirement to be in a state of grace does still apply as for any person receiving. This cannot be just 'waived' or ignored. I know there are some who do but this does't make it right. It is always necessary to make a good confession if one is conscious of grave sin. One has to be very careful in hospitals though. People readily ask for Holy Communion and may not be regular Mass goers. It is not always easy to make a judgment about this at the bedside and I've made it a habit to give the benefit of the doubt to the patient. If it is clear that the patient could be going to Mass but has simply, like so many others, chosen not to go to Mass, I always recommend confession first and offer it then and there if circumstances permit. Many refuse to accept this offer and usually don't repeat their request for Holy Communion. I don't know about that PP .. I would need to know lots more facts about what he actually told those hospital visitors before I commented. From what you have said, though, I don't feel confident I would agree with giving Holy Communion to any Catholic who asked for it.