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!
Thank you! I am actually Eastern Rite (Russian Usage) too, although there isn’t an Eastern Rite church of any kind near here so I haven’t been to a Byzantine liturgy for years now.
I’ve noticed in recent years that most dioceses in the South have instituted religious education programs, but the problem is that they’re not very interesting and actually not basic enough. They get a little vague and they’re too warm and fuzzy, so men don’t go to them and really the only people who go are older ladies who aren’t going to learn much of anything new.
We did have a good response to Fr. Robert Barron’s “Catholicism” series, although unfortunately the person who was the moderator, I guess you’d call her, is not very knowledgeable herself and I think she did more harm than good.
I wish the priests would go back to doing religious education. Some of them are not extremely orthodox, unfortunately, and others aren’t as well educated as they should be, but they’d still be better than most of the other people and I think it would be good for people to meet them and have some sort of contact with them outside of Mass.