Wednesday, September 28, 2016


I am currently in Italy and soon in the Holy Land as a part of a continuing education program for priests at the North American College in Rome. It goes through October 21. Posting or commentary may be sporadic.

My comments first on increasing the number of nones: I don't think we as faithful Catholics, be we clergy or laity, have to denigrate sinners of any sexual orientation. However when the truth is proclaimed in love and directed toward all sinners, usually 100% of any given congregation, and the prophetic dimension of the truth alienates those closed to it or offended by it, then so be it.

We cannot be manipulated by the political correctness of this current generation which strives to manipulate the prophets of God through a consumer mentality to Catholicism which sees it as a business where the customer is always right and if he isn't catered to, will take his business elsewhere. 

Pope Benedict did not desire a smaller Church, but a more faithful Church that might result in fewer Catholics. However those Protestant sects that have given into the all inclusive demands of their customers have seen a dramatic decline in their pew counts too. You can be a smaller but mote unfaithful church also!

From Commonweal:

Why “Nones” Are Leaving the Church

By Michael Peppard
The most significant demographic trend in American religion today is the rapidly growing numbers of “unaffiliated” or “nones.” The data has spoken clearly for years, with a rise from about 5% in 1972 to about 25% in 2016. More importantly, almost 40% of those between the ages of 18 and 29 are religiously unaffiliated. This is no mere life-cycle effect, as has been so common in the past. If you find yourself gazing at empty pews this weekend and thinking, They’ll come back when they have kids of their own, you’re in denial.
To the contrary, this is an epochal societal shift disguised as a life-cycle effect, and it remains foolish to avoid the numbers. Recent books by Kaya Oakes and Elizabeth Drescher, among others, have given voices to these numbers. Queries about what the nones do after they leave their religious communities—how they live out their days as spiritual not religious, or multi-religious, or anti-religious—will continue to occupy more and more of our bookshelves. But the prior question of why they leave in the first place is also still being asked.
Yesterday the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI), an increasingly indispensable organization for the study of religion, released a report about why they leave. The report, based on August 2016 phone surveys, might be thought of as a compilation of anonymous exit interviews: real people offering real reasons, with nothing to hide or prove. Not all the answers are surprising, but some of them should be required reading for pastors, catechists, and parents.
The chart above shows the main reasons why people report having left their religious community. For parents, the top two reasons deserve special attention. As the first and best educators in faith, culture, ritual, and ethics, parents profoundly affect their child’s likelihood of religious affiliation. A lack of affiliation (and its outward manifestation) on the part of parents was the second most common reason given. Parents also join with catechists and pastors to educate children about a religion’s beliefs. If 60% report leaving because of lack of belief, that must be in part because those beliefs were not presented in the most reasonable manner or in a way that connected with the child's experience. If parents and other leaders don’t have coherent responses to questions about evolution, the resurrection, or various forms of prayer and devotion—not even to mention the thornier questions of contemporary ethics—then how can younger members nourish their incipient beliefs?
Most importantly, all church leaders should meditate on the third most common answer given: “negative religious teachings about or treatment of gay and lesbian people.” Almost 30% of respondents reported this as an important factor in the decision to leave. And among the Catholic respondents, the number climbs even higher:
Notably, those who were raised Catholic are more likely than those raised in any other religion to cite negative religious treatment of gay and lesbian people (39% vs. 29%, respectively) and the clergy sexual-abuse scandal (32% vs. 19%, respectively) as primary reasons they left the Church.
Let that sink in. Almost 40% of Catholics interviewed cited this very specific reason. On this point, the data is strong and getting stronger. For younger generations—and “young” stretches into current thirty- and forty-somethings as well—the moral status of homosexuality has simply moved to another region of the brain from that of other vexing moral questions. This is a matter not of normative argument but sociological description, backed up by poll after poll and corroborated by longitudinal studies, such as Robert Putnam and David Campbell’s peerless book, American Grace.
Most religious people make moral evaluations through a combination of appeals to revelation, reason, and experience. What do scripture and tradition say? What does my logical thinking conclude? And what have I personally experienced that puts flesh on the bones of those arguments? In the case of the moral status of homosexuality, it seems clear that a tipping point was reached in the past decade, whereby people’s reason and personal experience have overwhelmed the appeal to revelation.
What is the upshot for church leaders? Any comment a leader makes about gays and lesbians—from a magisterial pronouncement to a small remark in a pulpit or classroom—must be chosen with these high stakes in mind. With regard to how gays and lesbians are spoken of in church settings, there is no margin of error. Any expression of negativity and ostracization from the pulpit will be heard from the pew as an irredeemable affront to friends and family—or one’s very self. And next week, that same pew will be empty.


Anonymous said...

Father, you are in Rome at the NAC. I bet when the wind blows the right way the smell of sulfur must be overwhelming.

James said...

If you've some free time early on Friday morning, it might be worth paying a visit to Santa Maria Maggiore, as the pope is bound to go there before catching his flight to Georgia. The doors open at 7.00!

Gene said...

I do not care if gays and lesbians and the whole LGTB tribe are offended. So what?

Paul said...

To state the obvious, from an international perspective, I believe it too easy for Christians, of the Catholic or Protestant variety, in the USA to forget how much as a nation of people the numbers who take God, Church teaching and scripture etc seriously are quite high compared to say the UK, western Europe, Canada, Australia and New Zealand etc.

Anonymous said...

I am offended by a pope who is pushing his own personal agenda of "the ends justify the means". Catholicism 101 - it is NEVER permissible to commit an objectively immoral act in order to produce a good end. i.e. - a couple living in adultery can't keep fornicating just because there are children involved.

Casti Connubii #10 - By conjugal faith it is provided that there should be no carnal intercourse outside the marriage bond with another man or woman; with regard to offspring, that children should be begotten of love, tenderly cared for and educated in a religious atmosphere; finally, in its sacramental aspect that the marriage bond should not be broken and that a husband or wife, if separated, should not be joined to another even for the sake of offspring. This we regard as the law of marriage by which the fruitfulness of nature is adorned and the evil of incontinence is restrained.

Sixth Commandment - Thou shalt not commit adultery

St. Luke 16:18 Everyone who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery, and the one who marries a woman divorced from her husband commits adultery.

1 Corinthians 6: 9-10
Do you not know that the unjust will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators nor idolaters nor adulterers nor boy prostitutes nor sodomites nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor robbers will inherit the kingdom of God.

And Pope Francis CAN'T change anything. He is only pope, he is not God.

Anonymous said...

Gene "does not care." No surprise there, of course.

T. S. Eliot pegged this attitude well in his play, "The Cocktail Party." The main character, Sir Henry Harcourt-Reilly, a psychiatrist, comments:

"Half of the harm that is done in the world
is due to people who want to feel important.
They don't mean to do harm -
but the harm does not interest them.
Or they do not see it, or they justify it
because they are absorbed in
the endless struggle to think well of themselves."

As we know, Gene likes to think well of himself and has no trouble telling any and everyone this.

Paul said...

Ironically, I slowly worked my way back to full belief in the Catholic Church as the true Church not so much by doing courses in church history, scripture and philosophy and moral theology etc at a "Catholic" tertiary institution in 1990s but by remembering basic RC teaching as a boy and then after 1990s wide reading from Chesterton and Belloc and Waugh to even Protestants writers of modern times from Scott Hahn (sp? who converted I believe) to Colson and Philip Yancey and so on.....

Anyway, I remember thinking there was some wisdom in what Philip Yancey wrote regarding the issue of homosexuality: it is too easy for heterosexual Christians to judge homosexuals at times especially when forgetting what Jesus through scripture teaches us about divorce, fornication and lust for women.

At the same time any LGBT person who wishes to fully live a Christian life can be perhaps helped by being reminded that in many or most ways the "rules" are just as tough on them as heterosexual Christians.

Anonymous said...

It's strange that the text of the article concentrates on homosexual issues, whereas a large majority of nones say these issues were not important in their leaving. Why this imbalance in emphasis?

TJM said...

Another Vatican II Triumph!!!

Anonymous said...

C. S. Lewis wrote in Perelandra,“Whatever you do, [God] will make good of it. But not the good he had prepared for you if you had obeyed him.” We can recognize the good in our cultural heritage...but it’s important that we also recognize and mourn the good that was lost."

Important note: We may not see the good in our lifetime, but God chooses to make good through His unerring love. Does that excuse evil? OF COURSE NOT! But it is His "bigger picture" for us.

Paul said...

I did not want nor plan to turn Fr M's blog into my own personal blog space for a few days but could I ask for some prayers for our two teenagers, one has a broken arm and the other hopefully only going through a temporary phase of rebelling against all or most authority...... but most of all for Tiffany, 9, who for now I am told can block out most troubles with music etc.....but that when Tiff is older there may be peace, for all concerned.


johnnyc said...

Gene is correct in that no matter how charitable one is in proclaiming the Truth of Jesus Christ and His Church they will still be called hater, intolerant, homophobic and any other word that the world can use to bury the Truth in relativism. That name calling is designed to shut you up. So in that sense Gene is correct in that we should not care. We should continue to proclaim the Truth. Especially our clergy like these guys.....

rcg said...

It is a sin to steal but it isn't a sin to be a kletomaniac. I suspect homosexual activity is at least as complex as theivry so we should have an equally sophisticated response. But it is still wrong.

Anonymous 2 said...


“Gene is correct in that no matter how charitable one is in proclaiming the Truth of Jesus Christ and His Church they will still be called hater, intolerant, homophobic and any other word that the world can use to bury the Truth in relativism. That name calling is designed to shut you up.”

Do you speak from experience? Does Gene?

To the extent the reaction you describe is accurate, however, what might explain such a reaction?

I read the articles in the two links and I respect and admire the sincerity and good faith of the authors. But as Jesus also told His disciples (Matthew 10: 22):

“Behold, I am sending you like sheep in the midst of wolves; so be shrewd as serpents and simple as doves.”

This would seem to be especially applicable when we enter the world of politics, even as mere voters. The authors may speak moral truth and be simple and gentle as doves. But I wonder how serpentine they are.

And to return to the first part of this comment, serpentine wisdom may also be essential if one wants to be effective and persuasive in communicating moral truth.

Gene said...

Anonymous @ 8:10: You are so far off base about "thinking well of myself" I won't bother to address it. But, this is about the decline of Western civilization and the Church, about the loss moral compass. Since you like Eliot so much, try these:

"There shall be left the broken chimney,
The peeled hull, a pile of rusty iron,
In a street of scattered brick where the goat climbs,
Where My Word is unspoken...

And the wind shall say, 'Here were decent, godless people:
Their only monument the asphalt road
And a thousand lost golf balls..."

This is the way the world ends,
This is the way the world ends,
This is the way the world ends,
Not with a bang, but a whimper."

Anonymous said...

Gene, You repeatedly trumpet your resume as a "Protestant" academic, belittling those who do not have your classroom experience.

You repeatedly hold yourself out as a "better" Catholic than those who disagree with you.

You repeatedly belittle others with third grade taunts and jeers, in an attempt to make them look small and yourself look big.

And on and on and on. Your struggle to think well of yourself is monumental.

Carol H. said...

Paul C

I'm praying for your children.

rcg said...

Would you rather Gene care more for their feelings or their souls?

Anonymous said...

Gene, Anon 8:10 is probably one of the tribe. Secretly, he resents your re-contra quote from Eliot. He feels resentful because just when he/she thought he/she could be smarter than you, you one-upped the aggressor again. Keep up the good work.


Anonymous 2 said...

I inadvertently clicked on the wrong button, so I don’t know if the following comment got lost in cyberspace.


As I see it, the problem is that, even assuming a good intention, taunting and belittling others is unlikely to have the desired salvational effect. The road to Hell and all that. Which again brings us back to serpents.

Anonymous said...

See, Gene. Even your supporters know how desperate your struggle is to think well of yourself. " one-upped the aggressor again."

Gene said...

Anonymous, my "one-upping" the aggressor has nothing to do with my need to think well of myself, rather only with the stupidity of the aggressor..

Victor said...

Henry:"It's strange that the text of the article concentrates on homosexual issues, whereas a large majority of nones say these issues were not important in their leaving"

Rememeber this is Commonweal magazine which is an ultra-liberal sprit of Vatican II type of publication. Notice that in in twisting the importance of the facts, it thereby changes the perception of the facts, something typical of the godless mass media by which Catholics are relentlessy bombarded in order to lose their Faith.

Anonymous 2 said...


The attitude and approach of Gene and his supporters towards those of whom they disapprove seems to be to “fix [them] in a formulated phrase,” an insulting, belittling, and demeaning phrase. When they are thus “formulated, sprawling on a pin, . . .pinned and wriggling on the wall,” it is so much easier to dismiss what they say without actually having to think about it or to engage in self-examination.

Perhaps one can insult one’s way to the Party’s nomination or even, Heaven forbid, the Presidency, but I don’t believe it is so easy to insult one’s way into the Kingdom of God.

rcg said...

Gene is a hard ass. But It bothers me more when people go off on him being a former protestant preacher and mock his substantial theological knowledge. I fear we will miss something important in our obstinancy. St Paul was a convert and a hard ass because he had a lot of time to make up. I like my extended discussions with Anon 2 and Fr K because I believe they are going somewhere useful, if not for the participants then hopefully for the audience. But many, the vast majority I fear, use civil discussion to negotiate and stall self correction. Sometimes you have to get their attention. For example there is the brittle veneer of civility of the British that is infectious and can pull even an American into a thorny subject but in a calm and thoughtful manner. And sometimes, as my father showed me, they will surrender to urgency and scream "LEFT SIDE, YOU DAMN YANK!!!" I can't let it hurt my feelsings.

George said...

Commenting back in April 2015 on the results of a poll taken by the Public Religion Research Institute, which showed a majority of members of the major religious groups in America as "favoring" or "strongly favoring" legal recognition of marriages for LGBT couples, Robert Jones(head of PRRI) wrote in his blog that on this issue: "within many key groups—such as Catholics—support among rank and file members is now at odds with official church opposition.”

So? As if God will now change His laws to reflect and conform with public opinion? There were those who,when Christ walked the earth, departed from Him because they found His teaching impossible to accept. In that regard, nothing has changed.

Anonymous 2 said...


Let me clarify that when I described the attitude and approach of Gene and his supporters in my previous comment I did not have you in mind at all, to the extent you are a supporter (perhaps I should have said “several of his supporters”). Your comments are invariably thoughtful and thought-provoking and I cannot recall them being delivered in anything other than a civil, gentlemanly, and measured manner.

Anonymous 2 said...


P.S. Let me add that I have found several of Gene’s comments, especially his theological comments, to be most illuminating and valuable. It would be throwing the baby out with the bathwater to overlook or to minimize the contribution they make to advancing the conversation just because one might find other comments to be objectionable and inappropriate.

Anonymous said...

Gene, You keep showing your true colors. "Anonymous, my "one-upping" the aggressor has nothing to do with my need to think well of myself, rather only with the stupidity of the aggressor.."

Yes, if the "aggressor" is showing "stupidity," then you are showing intellectual superiority. That is a prima facie evidence that you have a deep, deep seated need to think well of yourself.

Thinking well of yourself is what keeps you from thinking of others much. And thinking of others, making their joys and concerns our own, is what we as Christians are meant to be about.

Anonymous said...

rcg - I am not mocking Gene's background. When, however, he hauls out his credentials or name drops in order to make himself seem to be superior to others, he is manifesting his deeply seated need to think well of himself at the expense, of course, of those he attacks.

That type of behavior is what distracts us from the matter at hand and causes us to miss important points.

John Nolan said...


Americans are actually more courteous in everyday speech than Brits; their habit of addressing strangers as sir or ma'am strikes us as rather old-fashioned (in a nice sort of way). This even extends to the military - Americans are often surprised at the apparent informality whereby a Brigadier will address a junior officer by his Christian name (although not the other way round!) and lieutenants, captains and majors are never addressed by their rank.

rcg said...

Fair point John, I was thinking of the business setting. In the pub I am likley to get called all sorts of things. Being Old South myself, I have struggled with the feelings I get when my Yankee son in law (otherwise the best young man she could have married) wants to address me by my first name. Now that I am a grandparent I have solved that by defaulting to the traditional 'Pap' for the family only and avoids troublesome informality. On mission crews we solved that by using callsigns. 'Digger', 'Simmer', 'Flog', usually based on a corruption of the name or a distinguishing characteristic.

Anonymous said...

"I am currently in Italy and soon in the Holy Land as a part of a continuing education program for priests at the North American College in Rome. It goes through October 21."

Ok, so you are in Europe again on another really long vacation. Continuing education for what. You were just appointed pastor of a new parish and immediatley you leave and go on another long vacation. I don't think Pope Francis would like that, or would he.

Paul said...

For some reason the word "digger" means something here down under.

Was it north Africa in WW 2 the term was first used?

My family history tells me little Australia down under supplied the best and bravest quite often back to the Boer War in South Africa for the UK and then in circa 1941 with the fall of Singapore......thanks to reformed drinker John C, our greatest PM who died to be replaced by Ben C in 1945, we have given our all to the good old USA........

Family memories!

I was a chief altar boy at Regina Coeli RC church as a boy down under.......

A wonderful, beautiful Catholic Church partly built to a degree with grateful Yank money for down under help in Pacific battles roughly from Pearl Harbour to Nagasaki....

The true and best soldiers in my extended family for a hundred years plus, who survived, did things like return from war and throw their medals in the mud and never march one day on Anzac day........

Anzac Day?

Australia and New Zealand?

No since 1941, white, black and brindle Aussies and Kiwis have done our best for you be it Yankee boys or the South.....



Southern Orders?

My family soldiers echo it has been all the way with LBJ not just 63 to 68 but with evey USA president out of necessity since we were betrayed in 41 by the UK?



PS Trump or Clinton?

We don't really care.

We are grateful to be your allies.

Such is life.

John Nolan said...

The surrender at Singapore in February 1942 is still the subject of debate and recrimination. It was by far the greatest disaster ever to befall British arms; eighty thousand British, Indian, Australian and Malay troops went into ignominious and often fatal captivity. By all means blame Churchill and the war cabinet, although the very construction of the base in the interwar years was an attempt to counter what must be seen as the worst example of strategic overstretch in modern history.

In Paul's worms-eye view it's all about the gallant Aussies being 'betrayed' by the Poms. In fact not all Australian units distinguished themselves. Desertion from the front line was common, and was noted by Australian officers. The Australian commander, Maj-Gen. Gordon Bennett actually abandoned his division the day before the surrender and escaped, turning up later in Australia.

Anonymous said...

Gene can mock. Gene can pretend to be a true Christian.
He carries guns into the church and brags about breaking the law and the
rules of our bishop. Everyone knows Gene. And soon when the television
posts comments he has made on this blog public we will see what his
vast amount of "knowledge" can do to get him out of a hot mess.
Gene the RCIA past instructor, big private business man, soon to be
a star on local TV.

Anonymous 2 said...


I am not sure how seriously to take your comment at 4:02 a.m. I am one of Gene’s main targets on this Blog, but let’s keep this in the family.

gob said...

Don't the Russians have a "Gene-Leak...? I don't think I can wait....

John Nolan said...

Gene merely said that he didn't care if the 'LGBT tribe' was offended. Neither do I. Many of us find the public posturing of this strident lobby offensive, but do they care? They go out of their way to be offensive.

I don't want to know what other people get up to in their own bedrooms, provided they don't frighten the horses. Having said that, I haven't checked whether zoophilia is on the ever-growing list of approved perversions.

As for those who choose to abandon the faith, one has to ask if they were taught it properly in the first place. It's probably too late to rectify such a deficiency, so I am tempted to say, in the words of the great Duke of Wellington: "Damn 'em. Let 'em go."

rcg said...

I admire and am grateful for Australia and New Zealand. They have given me some imortant life experiences and I wish there were more.

This is a pretty arcane blog. If a television news editor, even in Macon, GA, decided to include any of it in his broadcast it would either be an excruciatingly slow news day or he would be trying to get fired.

Paul said...


I honestly respect you more than just about anyone here.

My uncle Steve died in his 80s in this century after almost 4 years ending in late 1945 after shooting at Japanese at 18 and 14 stone and coming back crippled, broken and 7 stone and told he would never have children.

Who ordered Steven and his group of comrades to surrender?

Do you know that detail?

If not why not comment on over one century big picture real politick sp?


Paul said...


Ever heard of Douglas M sp?
I shall return?

After he left Manila?

Till then, till he was retired.....
Is he not an American hero?


Paul said...


Yes, BTW I have drunk in a pub ironically named after Bennett. RIP. 1962.

Ever heard of General John Monash d 1931 and his role in WWI, especially commanding Allied troops in 1918?

It is more than idle speculation that had Monash learned his playing field skills at Eton as opposed to having a down under Melbourne Jewish background many WWI battles could have ended differently, well with at least thousands less slaughtered like cattle during an often stale mate western front.

John Nolan said...

Douglas MacArthur may be an American hero but he was no friend of the British Commonwealth and was reluctant to give credit to the Australians under his command, despite the fact that in 1942 he had more Australian troops than American. This has tarnished his reputation down under and I'm surprised to see an Aussie sticking up for him.

If he'd had his way, Hong Kong would have been handed over to Chiang Kai-Shek and the Chinese nationalists.

His egotism, self-publicity and reluctance to co-operate with allies disqualify him from being in the same league as Wellington or Eisenhower (or, for that matter, Douglas Haig) despite his undoubted abilities.

John Nolan said...


The fact that Sir John Monash was a very able commander (as was the Canadian Arthur Currie) shouldn't be used as a stick to beat the rest of the generals. The Australians had great respect for Birdwood and the Canadians likewise for Byng; after the war Byng was a popular Governor-General of Canada and Birdwood would have been Governor-General of Australia, were it not for the cronyism of the then Aussie PM.

Gene said...

Anonymous @ 4:02, in order to simplify your news report, here is a more succinct summary of my comments: "Guns are good, queers are bad, unbelief is rampant among clergy and laity, the Pope is a disaster, and, this one time at band camp..."

Paul said...


Thank you for this dialogue.

The big picture historically though is if the 19th century was in many ways the British century, and the 20th century was the American century...... to who or whom shall this century belong?

Any guesstimates?


Gene said...

" whom shall this century belong?" Satan...hands down.

George said...


As an aside to your comment about Chiang Kai-Shek.

Soong Mei-ling, the eventual wife of Chiang Kai-shek, attended Wesleyan Colege here in Macon for a year before transferring to Wellesley College in Massachusetts, to be closer to her older brother who was studying at Harvard. Her other sisters Ching-ling and Ai-ling graduated from Wesleyan. Ching-ling married Sun Yat-sen, Father of Modern China and first President of the Republic of China. She ended up supporting the communists and remained in China after the takeover. She became joint Vice President of the People's Republic of China with Dong Biwu from 1959 to 1972