GUESTVIEW: Are Catholics masochists?
The following is a guest contribution. Reuters is not responsible for the content and the views expressed are the authors’ alone. Isabelle de Gaulmyn is Religion Editor of the Paris Catholic daily newspaper La Croix and author of Benoît XVI, Le pape incompris (Benedict XVI, The Misunderstood Pope). She blogs in French at Une foi par semaine, where this first appeared.
Are Catholics masochists? After all that’s been happening these days, this looks like the question to ask. There were probably more than 3 million Catholics in France who went to church to celebrate Palm Sunday today. And during this Holy Week, millions more will to prepare for Easter. If the news we hear is anything to go by, these Catholics must be either mad or masochistic.
Why not take advantage of this Sunday to go fishing or play tennis rather than frequent a place full of pedophile priests and leaders who lie and hush up the truth? How can there still be people in the pews, on pilgrimages, in monasteries or volunteering in one of many charities?
And what about the adults who will be baptised as Catholics on Saturday evening?* Are they thoughtless, suicidal or stupid? In short, are Catholics “the blind being led to slaughter,” as was written in a militant secularist pamphlet dropped into my mail box?
These are legitimate questions if we go by the image of the Church found in the media now. It’s no surprise that the media focuses on the real flaws and shortcomings of the Church. But it makes Catholics feel hopeless and hurt to see their Church presented in a way that has little in common with what they experience daily in their own faith communities.
Today, the big problem Catholicism faces may not be secularisation but the Church’s inability to show the rest of society what actually happens in each of its parishes.
What do you think? Is there a disconnect between the Catholic Church you see in the news and the parish nearest you?
* 2,903 adults will be baptised in France at Saturday evening’s Easter Vigil, a traditional time for adult baptisms. The number of adult baptisms has grown by 20% over the past decade. The French Bishops Conference has an extensive dossier on adult baptisms (here in French).