What does it mean that “All are welcome!” in the Catholic Church

Fr. Dwight Longenecker has a great piece in Patheos today about what a liberal progressive Catholic means when he or she says “All are welcome!” in the Catholic Church

Here’s an excerpt, but do go  on over and read the whole thing:

Are people welcome to the Catholic Church? What kind of Catholic Church? Why should anyone want to join the Catholic Church anyway? What would a liberal Catholic answer? Is it for their soul’s salvation? Is it to escape the fires of hell? Is it to worship and serve the Lord Jesus Christ King of the Universe? Is it to learn how to love God and his Son Jesus Christ, to venerate and love his Blessed Mother and worship in the communion of all the saints and angels?

It’s funny, but I don’t hear that sort of thing coming from this sort of Catholic.

Instead all we hear is the mantra, “All Are Welcome”.

See, without a full blooded, historic Catholic faith which preaches the need for repentance and seeking the face of the Lord for eternal salvation what are you welcoming people to? A luncheon club where they sing hymns and carry banners with trite slogans? A soup kitchen and shower facility where they hold Bible studies? A rehab center where they find their inner goddess? People aren’t dumb. They’ll soon ask, “Why bother with all that religious-spiritual stuff? We can do soup kitchens, rehab centers and shower facilities without all those dreary hymns, bad Christian pop music and dull homilies delivered by a fat, middle class half educated minister.

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4 Responses to What does it mean that “All are welcome!” in the Catholic Church

  1. EPMS says:

    Many things seem to be conflated here. It is true that people can find the personal social benefits of church attendance in many different ways, and if the “faith message” becomes too watered-down there ceases to be a reason to seek those social benefits at an inconvenient time like Sunday morning. On the other hand, the voluntary provision of social services to others continues to be spearheaded by faith-based groups; it is true that an atheist could start up a drop-in centre for the homeless, but that rarely happens. The impetus for the most part seems to come from religion, as does the impetus to give to charity generally. And “dull homilies delivered by a fat, middle-class half-educated minister” could nevertheless be entirely orthodox in content. I am sure Catholics of a certain vintage can remember plenty of those.

  2. Richard Grand says:

    Fr. Longenecker said “We can do soup kitchens, rehab centers and shower facilities without all those dreary hymns, bad Christian pop music and dull homilies delivered by a fat, middle class half educated minister.” Does it not strike anyone that describing a member of the clergy at “fat middle-class, and half-educated” just a bit elitist and mean-spirited? Whatever one may think of their “dull homilies”, why does it follow that their body shape, social status, or education has to be ridiculed? What if the “minister” were fit, upper class, and highly educated? Would their homilies then be brilliant? What class of society is optimal for clergy to have come from? Did a Christian actually write this?

    • Rev22:17 says:

      Richard,

      You asked: Fr. Longenecker said “We can do soup kitchens, rehab centers and shower facilities without all those dreary hymns, bad Christian pop music and dull homilies delivered by a fat, middle class half educated minister.” Does it not strike anyone that describing a member of the clergy at “fat middle-class, and half-educated” just a bit elitist and mean-spirited?

      This is clearly literary hyperbole, but I have seen far too many instances in which the proverbial shoe fits — most notably among the clergy of my own archdiocese.

      The plain reality is that no Catholic presbyter is in any danger of getting fired unless he (1) does something criminal, (2) enters publicly into apostasy, heresy, or schism, or (3) overtly disobeys his bishop or superior in a way that causes serious scandal. In the developed world, most clergy enjoy a comfortable lifestyle characteristic of the upper middle class regardless of what they do or don’t do, and sloth, both in their personal habits and in their ministry, is overlooked. There are no adverse consequences for poorly prepared homilies devoid of content, shoddy celebration of the liturgy, failure to ensure that those who come for the sacraments are well prepared, inefficient administration of parish resources, or failure to participate in continuing professional education seminars offered by the local diocese. In fact, initiatives to implement new programs are often met with opposition that leads to rebuke, providing strong disincentive to do more than the minimum.

      Now, I hold a Master of Theological Studies in Pastoral Ministry with a very heavy concentration in the area of liturgy and sacraments from a Catholic national seminary here in the States. All of the courses that I took in the area of liturgy and sacraments, however, would be required courses for seminary students — yet I encounter many Catholic presbyters who don’t have a clue what the rubrics really say and what norms govern the sacraments. By way of example, some years ago I was part of a young adult group that met with a presbyter who had been named as the Administrator of a small parish. Around April, they discovered that one of the students in the first communion class had not been baptized. When he shared this with us, I asked if he intended to baptize her, confirm her, and admit her to communion at the Easter Vigil. He said, “No, I’m just going to baptize her” — to which I replied that, since she had reached the age of reason, there was no provision to baptize her without also confirming her in the liturgical books. He was dumbfounded, but he also knew me well enough to decide that he better check with the chancery before proceeding — and, much to his shock, he got the same answer from the chancery. Unfortunately, such ignorance seems to be normative among the clergy of my archdiocese.

      And BTW, this presbyter weighs in at about three or four times his ideal weight — and he is much more motivated than many when it comes to ministry.

      You asked: What if the “minister” were fit, upper class, and highly educated? Would their homilies then be brilliant?

      Most Catholic seminary programs consist of four years of graduate studies — a year more than the minimum requirement for most doctorate degrees. This certainly fits most peoples’ concept of “highly educated.” Unfortunately it seems that the education failed to take root in far too many cases.

      That said, it’s not clear that the class from which a minister comes is relevant. Rather, what’s necessary to preach effectively is a life rooted in prayer, through which one discerns the Lord’s message, the effort to prepare homilies that are meaningful and relevant, and the effort to bring the gospel into the larger community (that is, to evangelize).

      Norm.

  3. Paul Nicholls ofs says:

    Hee, hee. As a fat, middle class, somewhat university educated layman, I might find such a remark somewhat uncharitable, but he’s only speaking in generalities and his remark is not directed towards any one person. I think Father can be forgiven for his choice of words.

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