When the USCCB met just weeks ago, the pro-Life Catholic community had anticipated resolution on a critical issue: will our Catholic politicians continue to be allowed to flaunt their Catholic faith, while standing firmly against the Church’s teachings on the sanctity of life. It has been disheartening to observe scandalous behavior from the likes of Nancy Pelosi, John Kerry, Jerry Brown, and most visible and horrific, the one who sits in the White House, Joe Biden. We all were hoping and praying that our bishops would find the guidance they needed from on high so that they would represent this important doctrinal issue with good discernment.
We were disappointed, but not surprised, that the issue was not met head-on and with clarity (seems to be a theme in Catholic leadership of late.) Instead, we are now finding out there is a round-about way they are addressing the Eucharist that will have a $28 million dollar price tag (***See below for samples of the proposed expenditures). And more importantly, this methodology may be missing the head of the nail completely.
The USCCB is basing its plan on a reportedly low percentage of Catholics who believe in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, the preeminent Doctrine of our Faith. The claim is that only 3 out of 4 Catholics hold to the belief. And so, the Bishops have a plan…
In three years, the Bishops will hold a Eucharistic Revival Conference in Indianapolis. This is a one-time event that gives flash and pomp to an issue that is grassroots and humble, though of utmost significance. Being a revert, I am picturing a gigantic tent meeting with all the hoopla of Holy Ghost Revival Meetings as seen in the world of our separated Protestant friends. To justify the huge price tag, there are plans for committees, pamphlets, and the hiring of attorneys, insurance agents, marketers and studies.(1) All of this seems to be targeted to the laity, in a finger-in-the-dike effort to ‘re-educate’ the masses. But is laity the real source of the gargantuan problem?
We are a blessed people of God. Christ established shepherds to guard and teach the faith, insuring the flock is fed with good food. Each priest, pastor, archbishop, bishop, cardinal and especially the head overall, the Pope, is to meet the challenges of imparting the deep truths of the faith to the laity. When Jesus told St. Peter to ‘feed my sheep’, it was meant as an ongoing call to teach and correct false beliefs in Christ’s sheep…we, the believers.
If we have, over time, morphed into a flock where only 1/4 of the sheep follow the most important teaching of the Good Shepherd, it didn’t happen in a vacuum. Somewhere, somehow the shepherds have not been guarding the flock with the Truth that saves. If no one comes to the Father but through Christ, yet week after week priests allow the laity to deny Christ in the Eucharist, shouldn’t that be of huge concern? And is it the fault of the sheep, or the shepherds?
This USCCB 3-year plan seems to place the onus on the laity, as if each person should have somehow through osmosis known and understood the deep teaching…the MOST difficult in Sacred Scripture. This one teaching in the Bread of Life Discourse of John 6 caused followers to leave Christ. Yet, somehow, we all were expected to be infused with innate understanding?
Take a moment and think. When was the last time any of your parish priests (and especially the pastor) spoke in a homily about the Real Presence? When have they unpacked the teaching? When have they communicated the dangers of receiving the gift of the Eucharist unworthily…like, maybe, in thinking it was just a symbolic wafer?
So instead of encouraging a pastoral approach, which is more in line with subsidiarity and PASTORING, the three-year undertaking relies upon committees and a bureaucratic approach leading up to an event of epic proportions. Is this how Jesus expected Church leaders to communicate that unless we eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, we have no life within us? Wonder how impressed Jesus will be…
It may be that our priests and bishops are in need of re-training on the Real Presence, and how to teach it to their local members. Seminaries may need to be more aggressive in this teaching. And I daresay it would never come close in cost to the $28 million to be drained from the coffers in the USCCB 3-year brainchild.
[By the way, keep in mind that the USCCB need for three years to address this problem is about the time of Jesus’ entire ministry on earth]
Over the last many years, we in the laity have been challenged to have any degree of trust in our Church leadership. We have watched ethical issues swept under the rug. We have seen decent priests removed for speaking out when seeing wrongdoing, while other priests promote stands against doctrine unscathed. We have watched donations used in questionable ways. Because of these concerns, there are many who no longer financially support their local dioceses. In fact, many parishioners have either ear-marked parish offerings toward parish-specific needs, or completely refrained from giving in fear of a portion going to the Diocese, then to the USCCB.
Perhaps this latest boondoggle by the USCCB will spark more of the laity communicating their disapproval with their pocketbooks.
***KNOW HOW YOUR MONEY IS BEING SPENT. The $28M price tag is line-itemed to include:
- Venue: $1M
- Transportation for Bishops, Staff and undisclosed VIPs: $150K
- General Contractor (sets, etc.): $4.5M
- Signage: $840K
- Security: $800K
- Entertainment: $650K
- Power/Internet: $2M
- Marketing: $700K
- Legal Fees & Insurance: $425K