Anemic Parishes and Parish Life

Sidewalk Evangelization, Pope Francis, Praying with Scripture, Attending Mass

We all know the Catholic Church can never die, because her Head, Jesus Christ, is alive and can never die. However, the Church can certainly be anemic and deathly ill—which she, no doubt, is in America. I will examine some of the reasons for the problems and some possible solutions that can be simply (not to be confused with “easily”) implemented in all our parishes where priests, deacons, and laymen still love Jesus, his Church, and the parishioners. So this article is mostly for priests, other parish leaders charged with helping parishes to grow, and other laymen who care enough to pass this along to their pastors.

When Jesus preached the New Covenant to Israel, while training the apostles for a life of ministry prior to establishing the Catholic Church, he preached with kindness, gentleness, and love. That is not to say, however, that he wasn’t forceful. Indeed, Jesus is not the warm fuzzy moderns seem to think he is. Christ didn’t merely have an attitude of “can’t we all just get along,” or “let’s just agree to disagree” the way people seem to think now. He called a spade a spade, and let the chips fall where they may.

In John 6:25-59 (The Discourse on the Bread of Life), Jesus gave us his promise of the Holy Eucharist, a soliloquy misinterpreted as being cannibalistic in nature (52-58). On hearing the message, some of his disciples walked away, which he allowed rather than toning down or explaining the language he used about the Eucharistic.

In other instances, Jesus called people hypocrites, serpents, and white painted sepulchers full of dead men’s bones. When talking of the towns where he had worked miracles, where people either rejected him or his message, Jesus said that Capernaum was even worse than Sodom—telling them they were worse than a city of sodomites that God destroyed for their sin! And let’s not forget how he drove the money-changers out of the temple with braided cords, which must have stung the objects of his ire.

All of us, especially priests, are supposed to imitate Christ in all things, yet I haven’t been in a parish and listened to a priest preach as Jesus did in my entire forty-plus years as a Catholic. In most parishes, what I hear is namby-pamby baloney about how we’re supposed to just love each other and get along. In the best parishes I’ve been to, the most forceful homilies I’ve ever heard relate to pretty basic stuff about the sacraments, or the lives of some of the saints. This is good, but where is the priest with some “fire-in-the-belly”? Where are the homilies on artificial contraception, or immodest dress, or chastity of the eyes, mind, and body? Where are the condemnations of “alternative lifestyles,” such as transgenderism, homosexuality, lesbianism, and living together outside of matrimony? In short, where are the priests willing to call us out as being “hypocrites, serpents, and whited sepulchers” as Christ did to his listeners? They don’t seem to exist, but we need them desperately.

The biggest reason even the best, most orthodox priests don’t preach this way is fear. In their minds, this fear is very real and reasonable, but it’s a false fear, a fear that is a self-perpetuating lie to themselves. They fear that collections will dry up. They fear that people’s anger will cause letters to the bishop that will result in difficulties from the chancery. They fear people will leave and not return. They fear alienating the parishioners who are active in the parish, and who save them a lot of extra work. Contrary to what they may think, though, these fears are not completely valid.

Surveys demonstrate that the vast majority of Catholics who leave the Church for other faiths do so because they feel they’re not getting moral direction from the pulpit. So most of them end up in Protestant Fundamentalist churches where the minister preaches “hell-fire and damnation.” The natural need of the parishioner is to be told right from wrong, and get direction in their personal lives. In jumping ship this way, these ex-Catholic parishioners are getting all they need emotionally, but not sacramentally, along missing out on the fullness of divine revelation that is found only in the Catholic Church. What this means, then, is that even our good and holy parish priests are guilty of scandalizing the “little children” Jesus warned about, because people are leaving the Church in droves—especially as the nation takes a decidedly rightward move during these most disturbing times. They are starved for something other than what Fr. Kenneth Baker wrote about in the pages of Homiletic & Pastoral Review, which he referred to as “nice Catholicism.”

Each year we proclaim the Church is healthy because there is growth in numbers. But that isn’t the reality. Once you are physically grown, even your nose and ears continue to grow for the rest of your life, but that isn’t indicative of overall growth. We’re not growing. We’re dying on the vine, at least here in North America.

Although the Church is 2000 years old, she’s still a child. Because our Founder is eternal, our mere two millennia of existence means the Church is just a little child, comparatively speaking. Every healthy child grows. If a child isn’t healthy, he/she doesn’t grow. A healthy child must be nourished and grow, or he/she dies. The Catholic Church is a living, breathing organism, just like any child. She is the living Mystical Body of Christ, and the Holy Spirit is her soul, so she lives just as surely as you and I. But if she doesn’t grow, like any child, she dies.

Church growth is apparent in two ways. One way is spiritual, and the other is numerical. We cannot place emphasis on one without the other. There must be a balance of the two, or what you end up with is a schizophrenic parish.

Any parish that isn’t growing at least 10% per year from new baptisms, from a combination of new births and converts, then that parish is sick, and will eventually die. I live in a small rural parish of about four hundred families. I don’t know how many baptisms we had last year, but they were few. I do know how many converts we had, though—a whopping two. Ours is a very orthodox priest, with a deep love for his parishioners, but I know we didn’t increase our numbers last year enough to make a 10% increase in families. Using current birth and family size statistics, for us to have 10% growth in numbers, we need to have a combination of 140 souls added to the parish by new birth baptisms, and convert baptisms or professions of Faith. I don’t believe we had even ten. In fact, I think we had as many parishioners die as we did those being baptized.

When I first joined the Catholic Church, one of the first things I learned about Catholics is that they don’t know the faith. In fact, their ignorance of the faith is not only sad but alarming. Even good and devout Catholics don’t know their faith. Evidence of this comes from a common situation to which many readers can relate. I attended the extraordinary form of the Mass at a cathedral with a relatively new bishop. The former bishop had taken the tabernacle and moved it off to the side, visible but not particularly centrally located. I watched as these devout families, many of them large and growing, came into the church to hear Mass. As they came in, they genuflected to the altar. Jesus wasn’t on the altar! He was in the tabernacle, off to the side! That is a sure sign that even the most devout of Catholics have no idea what they are doing, or why they are doing it. I’ve also had conversations with parishioners who never miss Mass, but can’t tell me how many sacraments there are!

So when I learned how ignorant most Catholics are of the faith, I made up my mind that the best way to change things would be to bring a lot of new converts into the Church. After all, if you are anemic, you can improve your health by pumping in fresh blood. I reasoned that bringing in well-catechized converts would challenge cradle Catholics to step up to the plate, but I was wrong. Thanks be to God, the Holy Spirit has used me to make more than a few converts since I became a Catholic. They were very well catechized, because I saw to it they were. In fact one pastor I had, knew they were being so well catechized that he said to me one day, “You catechize ‘em and I’ll baptize ‘em.” The problem is, their influence did nothing to motivate cradle Catholics grow in their faith. Most of them talked to and treated the new converts as if they were interlopers. Worse still, many of the converts fell into step with the cradle Catholics, and ended up accomplishing no more than then the cradle Catholics in advancing Christ’s cause.

I’m not saying we should give up on making converts. I certainly believe evangelization is necessary, because that is the Church’s mission, even if it doesn’t seem to have much of an effect on the luke-warmness and, sometimes, coldness of our people. Thanks be to God, there are organizations available like the Marian Catechist Apostolate, Lighthouse Catholic Media, Catholic Answers, and Ignatius Press. I’m especially impressed with the newest kid on the block, St. Paul Street Evangelization. Their president is Paul Janke, whose whole idea of this apostolate centers on going out into the streets to share the good news of Jesus Christ with passers-by. Forty years ago, this would never have worked in America. People were still too much into their own religions, but now our culture and society are virtually godless, and by that I mean that they simply have no religion, but are truly starved for it. So the St. Paul Street Evangelization apostolate has developed a system of proven methods and techniques which they promote. They are forming a network of parish chapters which go out to evangelize people on the street. You can contact them for more information online at or by calling (657) 777-2963. They are only a fledgling effort at the moment, but I think as they expand their network base, it will be very productive for the Church. This apostolate is good not only from the evangelistic aspect, but also because it causes cradle Catholics who get involved to actually learn the faith themselves.

John Henry Cardinal Newman once said the greatest tragedy in the Church is an ignorant laity. Things weren’t as good as they should have been among the laity when he stated that 150 years ago, but by comparison to today’s parishioners, the Catholics of Blessed Newman’s day were catechetical scholars! Our people simply don’t know the faith. Statistics and studies show that 70% of Catholics no longer believe in the Real Presence of Christ in the Holy Eucharist. I don’t believe for one minute that they quit believing in the Real Presence. I’m absolutely, one hundred percent convinced that they never knew about the Real Presence of Christ in the first place. Just in case you doubt what I’m telling you, try a little experiment of your own. Stop any ten Catholics at random in your parish, and ask them one simple, two-part question: “How many sacraments are there, and what are they called?” I’d be willing to bet the farm that no more than 40 percent of them can tell you there are seven sacraments—and 40 percent is a stretch really. I’d also be willing to bet that no more than one of those ten Catholics you question can tell you the names of all seven of the sacraments. Yet, a mere sixty years ago, every Catholic sixth grade student could tell you not only how many sacraments there are, and name them, but they could also tell you what each sacraments does. The state of ignorance among our laity is not only sad, but downright alarming.

Christianity in general, and Catholicism in particular, is suffering global persecution. There have been more martyrs in the last thirty years than in all of the ten great Roman persecutions of the first three centuries, and most of those persecuted were Catholic. But just because it hasn’t happened yet in America, don’t think it won’t. It not only can, but the signs point to the reality that it will happen … soon.

Our government, mostly through the courts, has not maintained a so-called “separation of church and state” in America. The reality is, it has successfully managed to separate the church from the state. During the last six years, we’ve seen the government grow stronger and stronger in its attempts to nullify the First Amendment to the Constitution, and crush public teaching of anything Christian that is in conflict with the reigning political correctness.

The most recent attack on Christianity has been through media attacks, and civil litigation, against business people who won’t compromise their beliefs for the sake of political correctness. The most blatant attack has been the recent Supreme Court decision to redefine marriage. Prior to his death, Francis Cardinal George prophetically stated that he would die in his bed, his successor would die in prison, and his successor would die a martyr. The great Servant of God, Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J., began warning us over thirty years ago to prepare for martyrdom in the United States of America—land of the free! And that time is coming very quickly.

Jesus warned us to be read the signs of the times. Reading those signs, here is the sequence of events that are about to take place. All of our Catholic orphanages and schools will have to close because we won’t allow children to be adopted by homosexual couples, or hire them to teach our children. Our priests and bishops will suffer a flood of civil litigation because they won’t “marry” same sex couples. Then, the government will strip our dioceses, parishes, and Catholic organizations and groups of their tax-exempt status because they stand up against homosexuality, abortion, and artificial contraception. Then, the government will make it a hate crime—a criminal offense—for any sort of “discrimination” against homosexuals, a definition of discrimination that will be very broad and encompassing. So our priests and bishops will find themselves landing in prison by the thousands. In fifteen to twenty years, we will be priest-less in America. That only leaves one more step: the martyrdom of Christians.

None of this will be stopped by a new president. I don’t care if our new president in 2017 is the most devout and knowledgeable Catholic among the candidates (and that would point to Bobby Jindal), he won’t be able to stop what’s coming. A new Congress won’t stop it either. I’m a big proponent of a Convention of States as provided for in the fifth article of the US Constitution, but even that won’t stop what’s coming. Nothing political will stop the continued growth of the persecution, and the only people who disagree with that are liberals who deny there is a persecution, people who don’t pay attention to the signs of the times, and ostriches with their heads in the sand who simply don’t want to believe it.

There is, however, much we can do to improve the situation, and cure parish and diocesan anemia.

While quantity is important, it is worthless without quality. We must educate our laity. They simply don’t know the faith. How can our people withstand the onslaught of persecution if they don’t even know why they attend the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass? Educating the laity is the first step to improving both quantity and quality. So it’s way past the time for change, a change among our laity and our priests and our bishops. It’s time to stop worrying about hurt feelings, and offending the sensitivities of those who belong to the “United States of the Offended.” Our priests and bishops need to follow Christ’s example, preaching the truth without equivocation, or compromise. We need our priests and bishops to become like Elijah, John the Baptist, St. Peter, and St. Paul. They need to learn to fall head over heels in love with Jesus again, then preach from Sacred Scripture and their hearts, instead of from the “Book of Political Correctness.” Not only should each homily, sermon, and address be a catechism lesson, but there should also be “fire-in-the-belly” explanations, and explications, of the difference between good and evil. They need to call sin “sin” and not something less offensive. In order to do this, it’s our (i.e., the laity’s) responsibility to help our priests and bishops to remember that they are priests of the Living God, and to make them feel like it; in essence, to restore their confidence in the sacramental graces of Holy Orders.

The reality is that our priests and bishops won’t, or can’t, do what needs to be done. I don’t believe it’s entirely their fault either. Certainly some of them lack the backbone, or the orthodoxy, and the charisma to do what is necessary, but I really think the biggest problem is the lack of proper seminary training. Very few people are natural born leaders. Most leaders are made rather than born. We don’t really have any “leaders” teaching those designated as our parish and diocesan leaders. They simply don’t know how to go about doing what needs to be done. They need to be trained to be real leaders, and they need to learn how to reach the laity in a truly effective way.

So how do we educate an ignorant laity? I’ve learned that as a convert, when I point out to cradle Catholics they need to learn more about the faith, they indignantly respond that they have been Catholics all their lives, and know the faith. It doesn’t matter how charitable or humble I am, that is always the response. I understand why priests are hesitant to tell them the truth that they need to hear about their ignorance. And if a priest does manage to interest a few in learning more, how does he get them to commit to the actual work involved?

The pastor at my parish has tried something new that is having remarkable results. He’s managed to get a subscription to a parish bulletin insert written under the nom de plume of Joe Sixpack. The person writing under this moniker has really done something good for priests, parishioners, and the Church at-large. Most of our parishioners read the bulletin. Sixpack’s insert, called “What We Believe…Why We Believe It,” is intrusive. What I mean is, bulletin readers open the bulletin and see this insert, so they can’t help but read it. To my very pleasant surprise, our parishioners are not only learning the faith from these very orthodox lessons, and talking about it, but they are getting excited about learning the faith. And as a supplement to the insert, Sixpack has a website called where he invites readers at the close of each bulletin lesson to go and get more answers to their questions, or to even ask more questions. I would heartily recommend this bulletin insert as a way to begin educating the laity. I’ve discovered that priests, or other parish leaders, can subscribe to the insert on In fact, both websites deserve a good look. Parishioners are learning the faith, and well-catechized parishioners are engaged parishioners, and engaged parishioners are generous parishioners.

There is another thing that Sixpack is doing that I’ve been promoting to parish priests for years. He uses his sales, marketing, and evangelistic experience to consult with pastors on ways to turn anemic parishes into healthy, growing parishes. How successful is he? Well, I don’t know, but I have downloaded the questionnaire he provides for priests who are considering his services. Wow! This guy apparently understands human nature, and how to help a priest to build his parish qualitatively and quantitatively. My own personal opinion is that every priest who loves his parishioners, and wants to staunch the flow of blood from his parish, needs to at least talk to this guy.

There are other things priests need to consider to help in the numerical and spiritual growth of their parishes. Back in the days when there were lots of priests, and when life wasn’t so crazy and busy, priests’ lives were more simple and spiritually rewarding. Let’s face it, a priest’s real job is to first and foremost become a saint so he can give his parishioners the very best of his priesthood. That means, like priests of the good old days, he should spend a lot of time in adoration, prayer, meditation, and administering the sacraments—especially hearing confessions. But how can a modern priest do these things? Where is the time? How does he maintain the energy? There are only twenty-four hours in a day.

For many years, I’ve been telling priests they need to hire a special breed of parish administrator. I’m not talking about those who are common in parishes today, and all about business alone. I’m talking about men or women who know, understand, and live our faith, have a good handle on how to perform the administrative duties needed, and can work with the pastor to develop and implement resources that will help the parish to grow both numerically and spiritually. Frankly, I’ve never met a parish administrator who meets this description, nor have I found a school, or other institution, capable of teaching this, but I truly believe such people are available out there. In fact, many Marian Catechist Apostolate members would qualify for such a position.

Another thing that needs to be done is, stop doing most of what’s being done today. Bishops and priests tend to be what marketing expert, Dan Kennedy, calls “Amish.” The Amish have been doing the same things, in the same way, for the same purpose and effect for many, many years. The “Amish-thinking” of bishops and priests is contributing greatly to the anemia of the Church. No breakthrough for great change, growth, and advancement has ever come from within any organization or group. Anytime in history that something great for expansion and growth has come along, it’s always come from outside, and that’s what needs to be done in our dioceses and parishes today. After all, Jesus shook up the whole Jewish world from the outside going in. When Israel rejected him through its “Amish thinking,” Jesus sent the apostles to the gentile world. I’ve seen a lot of good ideas and potential systems that can work and should be tried, but all bishops and most priests shoot them down. They say: “That’s not how we do things. We’ve always done things this way, or that way.” Einstein defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different result. I don’t think our bishops and priests are insane, but Dan Kennedy is right to say they are Amish-thinkers.

In Revelation 3:15, Jesus told the church at Laodicea, “I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were cold or hot! So because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew you out of my mouth.” If we don’t begin to move now to educate our laity catechetically and spiritually, we won’t be able to stand up to the evil headed our way. Even if I’m wrong about the evolution of the persecution we are facing now, failure to treat and cure the anemia of our parishes will surely result in the death of the Church in America. At the very least, we need to treat and cure the anemia—the lukewarm-ness—lest we find ourselves spewed from the mouth of Christ.

Mrs. Frances J. Ford About Mrs. Frances J. Ford

Mrs. Frances J. Ford was received into the Catholic Church in Huntington Beach, CA at St. Bonaventure Parish about forty years ago. She attributes the influences that brought her to that moment to her late godmother, and how she conveyed the irresistible and eternal truths of Catholicism. She is now a housewife, a lay evangelist and, as she simply writes, "a woman in love with our Holy and Ancient Faith."


  1. I believe the Holy Catholic Church is anemic for one reason. When the government of the United States took Christianity out of schools. If the Catholic Church really wanted to bring more people into the Catholic faith all they would have to do would be drastically reduce the cost of Catholic school tuition. The public schools are so wretchedly pitiful even parents who are not Catholic would send there children to Catholic schools just so their children wold get a good education. And that would result in the child and probably the parents converting to Catholicism. However catholic schools are so expensive the majority of people can’t even send there children to one. Not only does the Catholic Church have to lower the tuition but they also have to advertise on television about how much better a Catholic school is than a public school and how affordable it NOW is.

    • You make a good point that Catholic Schools are critical to teach and maintain the faith. However, since there are not enough religious to staff these schools, lay teachers must be hired and paid a living wage. As it is, those teaching in Catholic schools are making a big sacrifice as their wages are
      considerably lower than their tax supported public school counter parts. Tuitions have to be higher
      than when nuns worked for a pittance and were maintained by their orders or parishes. The only
      answer to lower tuition is for us to fight for school voucher programs at the state level and also for
      parishioners to support school fund raisers in their parish. As it is, many of these schools are offering scholarships for needy families but they need the financial support of those who still believe in Catholic education, including pastors! Catholic school educators are among the unsung heroes in our Church today. Get out and support them in this truly evangelical experience….Catholic school education. Our USCCB is mostly mute in this regard. When the religious staffed the schools, they
      had the cooperation of both bishops and pastors. Not true today!

    • While I agree with most of what you say in principle, I cannot agree that the sole reason the Catholic Church in America is anemic is because the government has taken Christianity out of the schools. That is incredibly simplistic and discounts the heterodox traitors who tried to destroy the Church from within after Vatican II. It also discounts all that Mrs. Ford rightly pointed out in her article about “nice Catholicism”, the lack of backbone on the part of priests and bishops, and the incredibly uncreative thinking on the part of both sacerdotal and lay leadership in the Church.
      No, we can’t lay the blame solely at the foot of the government and the secularization of our culture. Fact is, at the end of the day, when all of us will be held accountable for what we’ve done or failed to have done, we will find that the sole cause of the problem will be us and our lack of involvement and obedience. God will most certainly judge our government and its leaders, but it is WE who are ultimately responsible for the Church’s anemia. I, for one, refuse to be held accountable and will die trying to do something about it.

  2. What is your opinion of the Christ Life Series being promoted in many parishes today and by a lot
    of our bishops in their dioceses as a way of evangelizing our separated brethren, be they ex-Catholics, Protestants, or even non-believers.? Are these programs ( ARISE is another) really
    effective and truly Catholic? In our parish, Discovering Christ is the program being used and is
    using the Adult Ed classes to teach others how to grow closer, through personal prayer, to Jesus.
    Baptism is mentioned but the Eucharist is NOT…which seems to me the real and substantial way
    to grow close to our Lord. It is the Way He left us. How can a Catholic evangelization program NOT
    include and emphasize this sacrament? I would appreciate your opinion.
    Thanks and God bless.

  3. When i left my Methodist pastorate to become Catholic, I applied to countless diocesan and parish positions, to use my gifts and love for Christ and His Holy Church. As much as I so wanted to teach and bring people into the faith, as an on-fire convert, I was summarily rejected by bishops and priests. There are many like me finding their way home to Rome through the support of the Coming Home Network (see website), in great need of a ministry in their new Church, if only they might be considered.

    Mrs. Ford’s piece echos what I have also been saying for many years. I truly hope they at least read it and consider the suggestions.

    • Hello Christopher,
      As a “revert” who came back to the Catholic Church (which, in fact, I had never really known when I left), I can understand some of your experience and comments. I too was a protestant minister before returning, and I too wanted very much to serve in His Church. In my case, to gain a firm foundation in this Catholic Faith that I then wanted to understand as deeply as possible, I went to a good Catholic university for a Master’s in it. With that credential, I did find (not always easily or painlessly) open doors for ministry: ministry which was a great blessing and joy for me.

      That said, I think I can empathize with you in the rejection you experienced personally by bishops and priests, as an “on-fire convert” to the Church. I can also understand the concerns and protective guardedness of even zealous priests and bishops, toward an “on-fire convert”! I do hope, however, you did or will continue to look for ways to serve the Church. Leading Bible studies and Catechism studies in your home – if no place is open in your parish – can prove to be a fruitful way to work in the Body. Meanwhile, even in a desert experience, one can grow in the Faith and in the life of prayer. Such growth in Him cannot – cannot – be fruitless.

  4. I deeply appreciate Mrs. Ford’s mention of my apostolate in her article. I also agree with everything she has to say in it. However, based on some of the comments I’ve read here, I feel obliged to add that when we place the blame for the so-called anemia of the Church in America on anything or anyone beyond ourselves, we are “copping out” and attempting to play mental gymnastics to avoid the shame we should feel for not doing whatever is necessary to motivate the changes that must come for the sake of souls.
    Today, as Mrs. Ford pointed out, there are a lot of good Catholic apostolates out there that can bring about the changes needed to cure our anemia. Personally, I think where we are really missing the boat in finding the cure is that we are all out there doing our own thing when we should be uniting in a common association to utilize the collective charisms and talents of the individual apostolates. Anyone up to joining me in promoting such an association?

  5. As a “Pope John Paul Catholic priest” of over 20 years in the parish, I would, without hesitation, say the problem is the bishops. Think about it: the Church is a hierarchy. The priests are only as good as those teaching, forming, and leading them; the laity are only as good as those teaching, forming, and leading them; our children are only as good… (you get the point). Think about the change that came about with Pope St. JPII, and Benedict. The bishops chosen by them are the true leaders (ref. to Renewal by Hendershott & White). Our so-called “Catholic” colleges, and politicians are a major source of scandal. The only reason why the rampant homosexuality–in the seminaries, priests, and bishops–has been addressed (but not fully) is because of the money lost in lawsuits (not the souls lost). Too many bishops think about money and being acceptable to majority thinking (which means money) than the acceptability to our Faith itself.
    Because of reprisals by the chancery, I choose to rarely speak on homosexuality and marriage/divorce, contraception, “Catholic” politicians, and other hot-button issues. There is no back-up by the bishops. The feeling is that of fighting a two-front war. On the one hand, we have the world, the flesh, and the devil, and on the other hand, we have the bishops! For example, there is the extremely lame “response” by the U.S. bishops to the SCOTUS gay marriage decision.
    And Ford is right, the “Amish thinking” is just killing us! Nothing new tried, just the same old institutional model from the 1880s. No Catholic national cable channel (it takes a nun and a garage to start one), no national Catholic radio stations, no national spokesman of the NCCB to handle questions to the media in an approved and orthodox manner, no national advertisement program for the Catholic faith. No nationally approved grade-school catechism, comparable to the Baltimore Catechism (it took the Vatican to come out with the Compendium, hint, hint). No, unity does not mean uniformity, but a little more uniformity would go a long way to ending the ignorance.
    Until the Bishops decide to really separate the sheep from the goats, supporting the sheep, and discouraging the goats, we will not have effective change as a whole! Where bishops begin this simple separation (supporting the sheep, and discouraging the goats), their dioceses flourish (See Renewal, by Ann Hendershott & Christopher White).

    • Thank you, Fr. TD, for your testimony and experience as a priest who would have the situation different – easier – more closely patterned according to what is surely Christ’s intention for His Church. As a priest, you look “upstream” and see (some) tepid, institutionalized and possibly careerist bishops. Consider us laity! We look “upstream” and see (some) tepid, institutionalized clericalist and possibly careerist deacons, priests, consecrated religious and bishops. You have a pulpit. You can preach and teach to the whole congregation, and you can at least try to form and reform them toward a full, maturing Catholic Faith in Christ. You can urge them; you can teach them; you can shepherd them – you have a captive audience of the whole congregation at least a few minutes every week.

      Please reconsider your choice: “Because of reprisals by the chancery, I choose to rarely speak on homosexuality and marriage/divorce, contraception, “Catholic” politicians, and other hot-button issues. There is no back-up by the bishops.” I respectfully and humbly ask, “So what?” Jesus did not promise that it would be easy – only, easier than the alternative.

      My small, mostly unsupported but at least tolerated “Bible Study” in my parish heard the following last Sunday, from Jn 12:42-43 “Nevertheless, many, even among the authorities, believed in him, but because of the Pharisees they did not acknowledge it openly in order not to be expelled from the synagogue. For they preferred human praise to the glory of God.” The threat or even merely the fear of being “out-synagogued” by the rulers can keep many zealous clergy, and laity, in silent submission – in a silence that is not holy, and in a submission contrary to our holy calling in Christ.

      Yes, the man born blind (Jn 9) was “out-synagogued” when he began to speak truth. But now, he could see!

  6. Avatar J. E. Sigler says:

    + Hello Mrs. Ford,
    Could you please direct me to the source(s) of this statement?

    “Surveys demonstrate that the vast majority of Catholics who leave the Church for other faiths do so because they feel they’re not getting moral direction from the pulpit. So most of them end up in Protestant Fundamentalist churches where the minister preaches ‘hell-fire and damnation.'”

    I have read the Pew surveys showing that most ex-Catholics go to evangelical Protestant (non-)denominations, but the only ones I’ve seen with a possible explanation state that they chose their new church because they like the “worship style” there, not that they left because they were dissatisfied with preaching in the Catholic Church. If there is such a survey out there that clearly shows that link, I would very much like to have it, because I do preaching research.

    Thank you!