Over 3,500 Catholic leaders -- both ordained and lay -- gathered earlier this month to discuss the challenges and opportunities that face the Catholic Church in the United States today. The Convocation of Catholic Leaders was inspired by Pope Francis’ encyclical, Joy of the Gospel (Evangelii Gaudium).
Here are some observations from the Convocation:
- Communication technology affects how we relate to one another. It also means that information is often instantaneous, though not always accurate.
- The societal, cultural, and political climate within the US has shifted dramatically.
- Family life is affected by socio-cultural dynamics, technology, availability of work, and high mobility.
- Family structure and stability has experienced major shifts associated with the sexual revolution, the erosion of sacramental marriage, and socio-economic difficulties.
- Catholic presence in the Northeast has been shifting to the South and West.
- More Spanish, Filipino, Vietnamese, and Korean is spoken by Catholics.
- Only 22% of Catholic adults attend Mass weekly.
- There are around 41 million ex-Catholics in the US.
- The largest fallout is among young people who are referred to as “nones” -- those having no religious affiliation.
- Around one third of adults in the US are unaffiliated with any faith.
Pope Francis challenges the Church to continue to go out to the peripheries and fringes in search of those who need the Lord Jesus Christ and his mercy. “Each Christian and every community must discern the path that the Lord points out, but all of us are asked to obey his call to go forth from our own comfort zone in order to reach all the peripheries in need of the light of the Gospel.”
The Convocation called for a renewed proclamation of Christ that enables hope, builds bridges of solidarity, and slowly heals the divisions all around us. How is the Holy Spirit calling you to reach out to others?
Deacon Tom Dubois