The problem is that most of them aren’t even aware that they don’t know the truth. I give tours at my cathedral, and I meet Catholics and other Christians from all over the country. They’re always well meaning, but they are completely, utterly ignorant. They can’t identify the statues of a single saint (even St. Patrick!), they don’t know what the Blessed Sacrament is, they aren’t sure what a bishop is or why the church is called a cathedral. Most of them no longer go to mass regularly and some of them attend Protestant churches occasionally. But they are so grateful when I tell them a few things.
I think the important thing is going out and using our tremendous Catholic treasury to impress and intrigue these people, whether people who think they’re Catholic but know nothing, people who believe they’ve left, or just curious people of good will. They’re not going to go seek things out unless somebody gets them interested in the first place, and maybe that’s what Francis is trying to do.
Same experience at my parish. Our situation is slightly different in that we are an Eastern Catholic Church. 2 weeks ago, I conducted a tour of the church with a large group of active, pro-life, Roman Catholics. I always begin by identifying myself as a Roman Catholic who practices the faith in an Eastern Catholic Church. This puts them at ease. The initial series of questions usually results in interesting reactions:
1. What religion was Jesus? This group had the correct response but I recall asking that of a Knight at a K of C function and he responded, "Catholic".
2. What language did Jesus, His mother and the Apostles speak? Many blank stares. Apparently, they had never considered this question. [Aramaic]
3. Did Jesus ever go to Rome? All blank stares. [No. He no doubt spoke and understood Latin because it was the language of the invaders but He never went to Rome.] Jesus was born, lived, died and resurrected in the Middle East.
I think the important thing is going out and using our tremendous Catholic treasury to impress and intrigue these people, whether people who think theyre Catholic but know nothing, people who believe theyve left, or just curious people of good will. Theyre not going to go seek things out unless somebody gets them interested in the first place, and maybe thats what Francis is trying to do.
You are absolutely right! The Q & A sessions are an opportunity to address unaddressed questions and clarify misunderstandings. The big surprise for ALL RC visitors is learning that the Catholic Church is comprised of 22 churches, 21 of which are Eastern. Most of them have never heard this before and it is quite the challenge to reassure them that ... YES ... they are all CATHOLIC ... in FULL COMMUNION with the See of Peter. Walk through the front doors of the church and you are greeted by a large photograph of Pope Francis and the papal flag. Those images scream "Catholic" and RC visitors, who should immediately recognize these universal images, are still confused.
Perhaps on the tours of your cathedral, you could pass along this information, thus becoming one more voice in communicating the fact that the Catholic Church breathes with two lungs. Kudos on your work!
We shouldn’t wonder why so many recent graduates of Billy’s Barefoot Bible College are on Catholic threads hammering away at every statement of from Pope Francis. They know most of us are not properly trained to argue or defend our Catholic faith. We are the “low-hanging fruit” that the newly minted “missionaries” cut their teeth on.
But then as I have traveled, I suspect the religious education in Nebraska was better than most places no matter what demonimation you attend.