The recent National Church Life survey shows (SMH) that the Pentecostal churches, which have grown 30 per cent in the past 10 years or so, were ranked highest by their own congregants on their ability to inspire, nurture faith and readiness to try innovations. Followers of the Salvation Army also reported high levels of satisfaction.
The Catholic Church ranked lowest on six of nine core qualities of church life, including calibre of leadership.The findings underline an internal report recently commissioned by the church’s bishops, which found Catholics had deserted the church because of perceived poor leadership and abuse scandals.
You can count me in among the dissatisfied Sydney Catholics. If religion was a company, I would have quit the Sydney Catholic Church much earlier. Each week, I often asked myself why do I come for mass? I’m not an atheist but I feel disfranchised by the words and action of the local Catholic Church. Where is the love? Where is the sense of care from the bishop to the flock he is entrusted? Instead I see a Church desperate to hold onto the congregation without making efforts to connect to the people or being relevant to their changing needs.
I see are heavy handedness response, demands or edicts declared by the clergy on the laity supported by hard explanation from the clergy with a mention of some biblical verse added. It’s not a relationship of Christian love, but unilateral decision imposed. An example, is the Charitable Works Fund appeal held a fortnight ago. The fund supports agency such as Centacare – Natural Family Planning. I cannot give my full support for this agency because I cannot reconcile the teaching of the Catholic Church with discouraging the use of condoms. Condoms prevents unwanted pregnancy and save lives.
Well, some may think that I could simply withheld fund to that appeal but such action would be at the expense of the parish church which I am not for. Each parish in the Archdiocese of the Sydney is given an appeal quota to fill, and if the amount collected is less than the quota, this needs to be made up out of other parish income. St Patrick Church’s quota (where I regularly attend mass) is $80,000 per year. That’s a lot of money to impose on the people and the Church income.
Maintaining my Christian Catholic faith is just too hard in Sydney. Would I leave the Christian Catholic faith? If this situation continues, I might take a temporary break from the Sydney Catholic Church.
Related link: St Vincent’s Redfern (ABC)