Message from the Pastor
Last weekend, some 200 laypeople and clergy from across the United States assembled for the annual Catholic Partnership Summit titled From Crisis to Co-Responsibility: Creating A New Culture of Leadership. Participants included three cardinals, several archbishops, a dozen bishops as well as the papal nuncio, Archbishop Christophe Pierre and Archbishop Charles Scicluna. The latter serves as the point person for Pope Francis on global concerns and responses to the clergy abuse scandal. These ecclesiological leaders were there to listen to the lay leaders. Besides the latest developments around the clergy abuse scandal, the sessions also included such concerns as transparency, synodality, and succession planning. These panel sessions were followed by small group discussions.
One important discussion involved facing the realities of the ongoing loss of disaffiliative Catholics. These concerns were addressed through the book and video titled, Going, Going, Gone: The Dynamics of Disaffiliation in Young Catholics. This qualitative study is a statistically sound sample of the 5.4 million individuals in the United States who are former Catholics between the ages of 15 and 25. The study led to three categories of disaffiliated Catholics: “The Injured,” “The Drifter,” and “The Dissenter.” The Injured are those who have had negative experiences of Catholic religious and ritual practices whether ecclesial or familial. Drifters, meanwhile, are persons who have had little or no engagement with their faith—this often occurs when they lack companions on their spiritual journey (e.g. in high school and college). Finally, Dissenters actively disaffiliate from the Church over certain neuralgic social issues (e.g. abortion, contraception and same-sex marriage).
This important summit also dealt with issues surrounding governance, transparency and stewardship. Best practices of accountability and internal controls of parish finances were highlighted. In this respect, I am happy to report that Holy Trinity has an annual audit process. Indeed this past month our auditors at Handwerger, Cardegna, Funkhouser & Lurman, in investigating our parish’s and school’s management and internal controls, found “no significant difficulties.”
Finally, the conference addressed concerns surrounding young adults defined as men and women between the ages of 18-39. Strategies of “succession planning” were offered. One pertinent question that continues to reverberate in my mind: “How many names of young adults do you know in your parish?” Remember— their generation will be the next cohort of faith leaders. Further information about the summit can be accessed through www.trinity.org/summitt.
Upon leaving this important two day summit, I had the recognition that there are many concerns that need to be addressed and remedied, but I also had a feeling of hope for the future of the Catholic Church in the United States. Please do not hesitate to reach out to me if you would like to discuss any of these concerns further.