On a very nice South Florida November afternoon, I took my baby blue Pinto on the very short drive to St. Thomas More Parish and, with just me and Fr. Connolly there, I took the profession of faith as a Roman Catholic. These days, both churches like to do stuff like this in big public ceremonies but, as was the case with my baptism seven years before, it was in private.
It was the beginning of the spiritual adventure of a lifetime, starting with the intellectual part and going to the Newman Association, the Charismatic Renewal, and ultimately hitting the wall because of that renewal. It’s a move I have no regrets about making, even a half century.
But to do it now…things don’t look so hot, thanks in no small measure to the current Occupant of St. Peter’s see and the many who are like minded with him. My years as a Roman Catholic made me aware of the possibility of him and he hasn’t disappointed. It’s sad that the Church has missed the opportunity of real renewal, but it has, in the West at least and evidently in Latin America too. Most of the problem comes from the perceived need to preserve the institution at the expense of the spiritual well-being of the flock. That manifests itself in a number of ways. One of them is the uninspiring parish system, which is better designed to dispense sacraments than to create community. Another is the fear of being crushed by the culture, which is no different than the reverends pères Jesuites of old (and they are in the driver’s seat right at the moment.)
It’s sad that, in an age where many are looking for reliable, consistent authority, the Roman Catholic Church is so out to lunch, but here we are, and we need to make the best of it.