Pope Francis has been visiting two of the poorest countries in the world, Mozambique and Madagascar, because he wants to reach out to the poorest of the world. He also visited Mauritius and he spoke there of “the idolatrous model” which uses the island as a tax haven. He urged the government to “promote an economic policy focussed on people and in a position to favour a better division of income.” Pope Francis is the strongest voice in the world against unrestrained capitalism and the destruction of our world environment.
People strongly disagree with him and point to the collapse of the Catholic Church and Christianity in the developed world as a sign of his and the Church’s failure. It is evident throughout Europe and North America. In our country, the numbers in the Churches are maintained by people who have recently come to live here, and how welcome they are, but the practice of the faith in the older families is fading. In the United States, lapsed Catholics are numbered in tens of millions.
We know that people are more casual about church attendance and involvement than used to be the case, and children rarely find for themselves what their parents do not give them. The life of the Catholic Church in Europe is increasingly dependent on the people who come from other parts of the world. We are now more aware of the universal Church.
There is no need to find blame. People are free to believe in and love and serve God, to be part of a faith community. The freedom to choose is essential and one of the criticisms I have heard throughout my life is of being forced to attend church and school without any personal convictions. It is sad that so many have unhappy memories of meaningless church attendance.
Pope Francis knows this and wants to reach out to the disillusioned and the angry and those who have lost faith. We pray with him and want to live the same ideal: God is love and the more sincere we are the better will people hear God’s love through the way that we live. Hypocrisy, pretending, is no witness. Perhaps attendance at church was and is the wrong measure. It is from the heart that we live.
We know the Gospel – love God and one another.
God bless us,
(15th September 2019)