or, "By Their Fruits You Shall Know Them"
Every day as part of my browsing habits I do a quick perusal of the website of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops. I eagerly watch for their commentary on the faith and how to make it real in my life and my community.
From my perspective, the biggest issues confronting the Catholic Church in Canada are the general lack of faith among 'cultural' Catholics, the lack of Eucharistic emphasis in our parishes, poor catechesis of the previous and current generation (how many Catholics attend Mass every Sunday, or reject artificial contraception?), the dearth of young men responding to their call to the priestly vocation, and ultimately the attack on the family via the Culture of Death. We are being diluted, and I suspect many of my readers would generally agree with my assessment.
So one would naturally hope that the Canadian Bishops would speak out against these evils, and in support of the time-tested solutions to remedy them.
Do you know on which single topic the Canadian Bishops have issued the most pastoral letters? Their website only goes back to 1996, and there have been fourteen letters issued in that time.
According to our esteemed shepherds, the single most pressing issue for Canadian Catholics should be... the environment.
--Letters on the environment: 4
--Letters on issues directly relating to religion (one on the Charismatic Renewal, and another French-only letter on the Canadian martyrs), marriage, and eliminating poverty: 2 each
--Letters on the plight of aboriginals, health care standards, and celebrating 50 years of the wonderful Canadian Religious Conference: 1 each
Why are they so disconnected from what's going on in their Church? Not that any of the above issues are unimportant (with the possible exception of the vainglorious navel-gazing celebrating the CRC), but they are treating symptoms of a greater sickness by addressing just those issues. I've haven't read every letter in that list, but the ones with which I'm familiar do not fail the test of truth. Neither, though, do they really address the real needs of today's Catholics.
Far better to inspire in the faithful a return to sacramental living: challenge us to love the Pope, to hunger for the flesh of Christ, to spill our souls to the Father in the confessional. Call us to reject the modern poison of contraception and to stand apart from our culture when it comes to perspectives on sexuality.
Only then will we see a re-kindling of true Catholicism in Canada.