Friends,

150 150 St. Mary St. Catherine of Siena

I’m a believer that whatever takes place in the world forces each of us to reevaluate our faith and our value system. We live at a time when issues have become so volatile: social issues, political issues, moral issues. This can be very frightening to so many and their response is to revert back to “the good old days” and imagine that if we just could live again as we did then, life would once again be stable and predictable.

I understand that yearning and nostalgia for the past. The Church in a sense is caught in the middle because the citizens of our Church are also citizens of our world. The issues they face are the issues we must face. The result is that religion itself can become so controversial. For example, the Catholic Church as an institution is asked to make statements and proclamations about legal, sexual and life-altering procedures.

In some cases the ballot questions during an election year force us to look at the proposed changes and cast our vote. In these cases, we may decide to cast our vote in line with Catholic Church teaching and believe every Catholic should feel the same way. However, we then speak with family or friends who are also Catholic who disagree and vote differently. It can even be more complicated when we read that the bishops of our Church may even look at many of these issues with various perspectives. Some may be very comfortable dictating that Catholics must adhere to Catholic teaching in all these areas, while other bishops are very comfortable in acquainting us with Church teaching but also respect our right to form our own conscience as we listen, read and face these challenging issues.

Then there’s also life at the parish level. Just as in a diocese the bishops can set the tone, so it is at the local parish where the pastor decides the priorities.

Some pastors are more collaborative than others which means they would do more consulting and enter into dialogue with parish leaders and those in ministry positions before decisions are made. The dividing line between politics and religion has gotten much thinner, which is why the Catholic Church has a much more difficult challenge in the 21st century.

Here are some of the issues that Catholics will expect their Church to face in today’s world. We may be in agreement with our Church or disappointed with our Church. Some may choose to leave their local parish or even leave the Church over the Church’s public stand on the following: immigration, gender identity, the environment, the just war theory, remarriage outside the Catholic Church, same sex marriages, abortion, women in ministry, who is welcome at Communion and clergy sex abuse.

This is the world of our children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. I want the Catholic Church to speak to their world and accompany them on their journey. In order to do that effectively we have to listen and respect their life experience and learn from their story. What a privilege it is for the Church and those in ministry to be invited.

Enjoy life!

Fr. Coyne