Twin Cities Catholic church-goers were recently provided with gift-wrapped paperbacks of Rediscover Catholicism--which I've just started. Parishioners have been prodded to read RC--St. Patrick's is even sponsoring 'book groups' for parishioners to discuss the volume.
Rediscover Catholicism, by Australian 'motivational speaker' Matthew Kelly, purports to be a serious Catholic's grappling with the sharp decline in the prestige of his Church, the palpable theological softening and retrenchment among clerics and laity and the ever sparser attendance, particularly of the young.
Kelly provides his troubling response: He believes the only plausible 'morally serious' reflection, upon liberal Western society, is revulsion. He compares the number of abortions performed in America to the number of Jews Hitler exterminated, finding us many times worse.
The challenge to Catholicism--per Kelly--is a sick, corrosive culture and the dishonest, insidious secularism constantly seeking to beat belief ever further from the public square.
Archbishop Nienstedt approves--we infer--the viewpoint that folks have left the Church for two primary reasons: laziness and ignorance. With the diocese's imprimatur, 'the Church' is essentially speaking to us, in Rediscover Catholicism, in contemporary-sounding language informing us that non-believers are dumb or really bad people.
In some respects Kelly mirrors my own viewpoint: I think considerable prejudice gets visited upon non-believers--while excessive social prestige gets apportioned to church-going Catholics. Were someone on their side to express interest in dialog, a fruitful conversation might ensue. It's a pity their purity cannot withstand interaction with one of us.
Kelly does not believe critics of Catholicism have put forward any trenchant questions over which his audience must grapple. Non-believers are tricky and clever pests that deserve semi-concealed sneers from kneelers.
If Matthew Kelly speaks for you, Fr. Rudolphi, then I would like to issue a few sentences in response:
I strongly oppose religious prejudice and hope to persuade you of my sincerity on this point. If you observe my voicing any over-the-line generalized attack on the integrity of religious believers, by all means let me know. By the same token, if you believe all secularist criticism of Catholicism to constitute ignorance and/or prejudice, please let me know so that I can quote to you from my several unanswered emails to you, over the past two years.
Fr. Rudolphi, it is not in fact illegitimate questions that you disdain--it's the fair ones that most consistently raise your dismissive ire.
During a recent funeral, you assured the grieving kin that they will be reunited as a family in heaven.
What is your source, biblical or otherwise, for the information that families get reconstituted in eternity? Is it in fact approved doctrine--that priests such as you know who will gain admittance into heaven, and how the heavenly will elect to sort themselves?