Why are They Catholic?

The latest Pew Research Center figures cause us to wonder why 40% of "Catholics" even bother to consider themselves Catholic.
Whew! The latest figures from a Pew Research Center survey have my head reeling. It was bad enough a few years back when research showed that 70% of Catholics no longer believe in the Real Presence of Christ in the Holy Eucharist, but this is ridiculous. According to Pew, there is at least a little good news: a whopping 98% of those who consider themselves Catholic do believe in God. Hmm. Well, that's mostly good news anyway. I personally have a little trouble understanding the logic behind the 2% claiming to be Catholic and not believing in God, but hey, maybe it's just me.

The rest of the news isn't so good. Frankly, I think these figures from Pew are probably a little bit more positive than the reality, but here they are.

  • a mere 85% of Catholics claim to believe in heaven while 10% don't believe in heaven, and 5% aren't sure (refer to my comment in the previous paragraph about logic)
  • 39% of Catholics claim to attend Mass once per week or more, while 40% claim they go monthly or yearly (which is it, Pew?), and 20% claim they never go at all
  • 59% of Catholics claim to pray at least once a day or more, but only 27% pray weekly or monthly (must be while at Mass), and 13% never pray

If these figures were about Protestant denominations, I wouldn't really even raise an eyebrow to them. After all, Protestantism was doomed to spiritual bankruptcy from the day they separated from the Catholic Church. But that they apply to us (and evangelical Protestantism beats us on all the figures!) absolutely astounds me.

I became a Catholic as an adult simply because only the Roman Catholic Church's teaching makes any sense. Only the Catholic Church can prove all her teachings and their divine origin. Only the Catholic Church is, well, catholic; that is, for all men of all times in all places. So I'm bumfuzzled as to why anyone would call themselves Catholic when they don't believe in…anything the Church teaches, like God's existence, heaven and hell, the reality of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, and prayer.

So who's at fault for these people not being believers yet associating themselves as Catholic? I most certainly don't blame them. Why? Because they were never taught in the first place, and everyone reading this knows that to be a fact. So who is to blame for the sorry state of affairs noted by this survey? The obvious answer is, every deacon, priest, bishop, and layman (those who actually know and try to live the faith) in the country is to blame.

I'm a great grandfather. In all my entire life I've never had a priest or layman come to my door to find out about the state of my soul or to invite me to church. But I've had scores of Baptists, Pentecostals, Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses, and non-denominationals banging on my door. And since becoming a Catholic, I have not yet met a single Catholic in any parish I've belonged to who knows our holy and ancient faith, much less see them invite other people to come to Mass. I know literally hundreds of Catholic lay people who know our faith as well as any priest I've ever known, but I've never had any of them attend any parish I've lived in.

The point is, everyone of us should hang our heads in shame. You can be assured that Our Lord will let us know of His displeasure in our lack of caring for the souls of others—especially of those who are supposed to be our own.

What happened to the days when the Legion of Mary would go throughout the parish, door to door, and take a parish census? What happened to the days when priests would try to know everyone living in his parish, Catholic or otherwise? Why do we not form groups to go our for a parish visitation night once a week in an attempt to cultivate the souls of lapsed Catholics and non-Catholics?

We must step outside our comfort zones and begin to work strenuously to bring Christ's sheep back into the fold, and that includes our separated brethren. In order to do this, we must first begin to educate those who do at least attend Mass regularly. It would be an admirable priest who would form a group of parishioners to get them motivated about a weekly visitation night to see people in the parish for the purpose of evangelization, but he must first educate them in the faith. Please consider using
What We Believe...Why We Believe It to begin that journey. Then, Father, sit them down and help them become the disciples of Jesus that He wants them to become.
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