Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Deal W. Hudson

6/2/2013 (1 year ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

I realize this is a brief commentary, requiring a much more detailed explanation as well as more suggestions for the way forward

I've had this discussion with Catholic lay leaders and clergy many times in different parts of the country.  Never have I encountered more than a mild protest -- most of the time there is general agreement with the need for parish life to undergo a change in kind, not in degree. In other words, a fundamental conversion that will involve the bishop, chancery staff, clergy, religious, and most of all, the laity. 

Deal W. Hudson

Deal W. Hudson

Highlights

By Deal W. Hudson

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

6/2/2013 (1 year ago)

Published in U.S.

Keywords: culture, evangelical, catholic, evangelism, Holy Spirit, new evangelization, culture, Deal W. Hudson


WASHINGTON, DC (Catholic Online) - I don't mean to say that Catholics have failed the culture without exception. I'm asserting that Catholics can be judged as having failed the culture by two standards: First, their numbers as the nation's largest Christian denomination, and second, by a comparison of their influence to Evangelical Protestants. 

I've been a Catholic thirty years, since 1983. During that time I've tried to serve the Church in a variety of ways, from teaching and writing, to magazine publishing, radio, television, and political participation. 

In my conversion memoir, An American Conversion: One Man's Search for Truth and Beauty in a Time of Crisis (Crossroad 2003), I described the freedom I had discovered in becoming a Catholic, that is, the encouragement I felt to use my gifts to engage the totality of the culture. The experience of doing this work has been both laborious and disappointing. 

A small but recent example -- most recently my weekly radio show on the Guadalupe Radio Network (1160 AM WMET) was canceled for including - inappropriate content - that I had read verbatim from my conversion memoir. The objectionable passage was about the great French Catholic writer Julian Green who I identified as a homosexual. I was then accused of  promoting my own homosexual desire on Catholic radio! My wife and a large number of friends and acquaintances got quite a belly laugh over that one!

Now, back to my assertion about Catholics failing the culture. I'm going to skip over how I came to this conclusion over the past several decades and give you the bottom line: It's the lack of vitality in our parish life and worship.  If you went back and forth between Evangelical Protestant and Catholic communities, as I often do as a part of my work, one thing stands out in stark contrast -- the individual Evangelical Protestant church is more dynamic, more unified, more committed to sharing its faith, more hopeful about impacting the culture by its witness. 

You don't see Evangelicals backing into parking spaces to make a quick getaway after Mass; you don't see them quick-stepping, head down into the church or ignoring everyone around them; you don't see them leaving as quickly as possible after their - obligation -  has been fulfilled.  You see a community; you see friends who have gotten to know each other through the church, many of whom are making plans to spend time together outside  church services. 

Some years ago I went through a very difficult time in my life, one that was well-publicized in the mainstream media and also treated to a full-color spread on page 2 in my own diocesan newspaper (thank you very much).  During that period of my life there was not a single inquiry from anyone in my parish. The next, and only, time I heard from the pastor he wanted a major donation. Thankfully my friends, many of whom are devout Catholics, including our own Deacon Keith Fournier, stood by my side until the worst was over, but the experience underscored how little parish life really matters pastorally and personally. 

My wife, Theresa, who is also a convert has commented to me many times, - Catholics make it so difficult to be Catholic.  She was referring to the deadness of the liturgies, the lack of welcome, expressions of gratitude, the underlying attitude of - Ok, you've got to come to Mass or you're in mortal sin and consigned to hell.-  (Let me emphasize, once again, there are exceptions!)

I've had this discussion with Catholic lay leaders and clergy many times in different parts of the country.  Never have I encountered more than a mild protest -- most of the time there is general agreement with the need for parish life to undergo a change in kind, not in degree. In other words, a fundamental conversion that will involve the bishop, chancery staff, clergy, religious, and most of all, the laity. 

Since John Paul II there has been much discussion of - evangelizing the culture - and for Catholics to become more - evangelical - in their witness to the world.  The self-proclaimed - Evangelical Catholics- often look and sound, to my ears anyway, like Protestant Evangelicals with a different vocabulary.  There has been no genuine integration of evangelical zeal with Catholic piety, rather Southern Evangelicalism has been laid over the Catholic faith like peanut butter over stale bread.  That's not enough!

An example of someone who has integrated his Catholic faith with Evangelicalism is the prolific Matthew Kelly whose books and appearances have deservedly gained a national following. An Australian, and an excellent golfer by the way, Kelly is the kind of model of Catholic evangelization that is both distinctive and effective. But it needs to find its way into the parishes and take root there. 

I realize this is a brief commentary, requiring a much more detailed explanation as well as more suggestions for the way forward. They are in the works, but before publishing them I would appreciate any feedback the readers of Catholic Online will kindly provide.

------
Deal W. Hudson, Ph.D, is president of the Pennsylvania Catholics Network and former publisher and editor of Crisis Magazine. He is a contributing writer for Catholic Online.

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


Copywriter 2015 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for March 2015
Universal:
Scientists: That those involved in scientific research may serve the well-being of the whole human person.
Evangelization: Contribution of women: That the unique contribution of women to the life of the Church may be recognized always.



Comments


More U.S.

FEDS VS. THE STATE: Who will win in Alabama standoff? Watch

Image of Some civil rights marchers have rejected any comparison between the quest to redefine marriage as a genderless union and the quest by black Americans to obtain their full civil rights.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Homosexual equivalency advocates liken Alabama's defiance of federal authorities on same sex marriage to a similar stance during the civil rights movement of the 1960's. The Alabama Supreme Court has made itself an outlier in the judicial march legalizing ... continue reading


Remembering Father Alfred Kunz: A Murder Unsolved Watch

Image of I try not to think of how his life ended any more. Rather, I try to remember how he lived. That is because, as a Catholic, I realize how short our lives are. We all will come to an end...sooner or later. What really matters is what we do, in keeping with God's plan, while we are here on this planet. Father Alfred Kunz knew that. He knew why he was here on earth and he made an eternal difference.

By Matt C. Abbott

In the early morning of March 4, 1998, Father Alfred Kunz, a priest and canon lawyer of the Diocese of Madison, Wis., was found brutally murdered in his parish school, St. Michael's, in Dane, Wis. His throat had been slashed. To date-17 years later-the murder ... continue reading


Saved by a sea lion! Suicide leaper from San Francisco Golden Gate Bridge loves to counsel others Watch

Image of Kevin Hines later spoke to a man who had been on the bridge that day. The man informed him that the underwater creature was not a shark - but a sea lion.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Thirty-three-year-old Kevin Hines was at one time a suicidal teenager who battled mental illness. It first dawned on him that his life served some sort of purpose when in one of his several suicide attempts, he threw himself off the Golden Gate Bridge in San ... continue reading


PM Netanyahu's Clarion Call Watch

Image of Tuesday, March 3rd, 2015, President Obama, his staff, and many Democrats in Congress boycotted Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu speech.

By Adele M. Gill

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2015, as President Obama, his staff, and many Democrats in Congress boycotted his speech, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu sounded a trumpet, a clarion call, for World peace. The message he delivered was cogent and clear: Peace and unity for all ... continue reading


Standing ground: Alabama Supreme Court halts same sex marriages Watch

Image of Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore, who has issued opinions saying the probate judges didn't have to heed the federal court rulings to marry gay couples, appeared to be absent from the decision. His name was neither in the concur or dissent portion of the order.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The State of Alabama remains adamantly opposed to same sex marriages. The Supreme Court of Alabama has since ordered all the state's probate judges to stop issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. The decision is just the latest in a growing legal battle ... continue reading


WHY has heroin overdose deaths in the U.S. quadrupled over the past 15 years? Watch

Image of Heroin overdose death most rapidly in the Midwest, the report said. No explanation was given from the report.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Once considered the lowest a person could fall, heroin deaths and addiction have quadrupled over the past 15 years. Death rates from heroin overdoses have nearly quadrupled since 2000 to reach 2.7 per 100,000 people in 2013. The National Center for Health ... continue reading


Has Obama destroyed 60 years of friendship? U.S.-Israeli relations frayed after dismissive comments from President Obama Watch

Image of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke before a joint session of Congress on March 3.

By Matt Waterson (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

In his dramatic, and controversial, speech before the U.S. Congress, Israel's prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu warned that the proposed agreement between the U.S. and Iran was "a bad deal" which would not hinder Iran's pursuit of nuclear weapons. LOS ANGELES, ... continue reading


What is she hiding? Hillary Clinton refused to use government email address while Secretary of State Watch

Image of Hillary Clinton did not use an official government email address while she was Secretary of State, potentially violating a law regarding open and free access to official documents.

By Matt Waterson (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Potential 2016 Democratic Presidential nominee Hillary Clinton may have shot herself in the foot; it has been revealed that as Secretary of State, Clinton used a personal email address for official government business, which may be a crime. LOS ANGELES, CA ... continue reading


Is your teenager in danger? 1 in 5 teen girls experience dating abuse in the U.S. Watch

Image of

By Hannah Raissa Marfil (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

It seems like teenagers nowadays have forgotten what "respect your partner" means. Oftentimes, teenage couples leave one battered and the other selfish. Some even find fulfillment in impeding the rights of other people, and American teenagers have fallen into the hands ... continue reading


The top 5 things you need to know about the United States' quickly changing religious landscape Watch

Image of

By Abigail James (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

For many years, Protestants made up the majority of the United States' population. A recent report from America Values Atlas tells us that, as the United States demographically shifts, this is no longer the case. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The United States as ... continue reading


All U.S. News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Jeremiah 17:5-10
5 Yahweh says this, 'Accursed be anyone who trusts in ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 1:1-2, 3, 4, 6
1 How blessed is anyone who rejects the advice of the ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 16:19-31
19 'There was a rich man who used to dress in purple ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for March 5th, 2015 Image

St. John Joseph of the Cross
March 5: St. John Joseph of the Cross was born about the middle of the ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter