Everyone is aware of the problems of secularism — turning away from God in favor of salvation offered through government. In the last 50 years, many poorly catechized Christians have left the Church and are now “nones.” A sizable number of those who have remained are so poorly grounded that it seems only a matter of time until they too leave.
Eric Sammons has noticed this too in his work at the diocesan and parish levels. In a short piece for OnePeterFive, he recounts some of his experiences.
Over the years I’ve gotten to know my typical audience, which I would describe as “average Catholics.” They are not people who have left the Church or are antagonistic to the Faith. Neither are they hard-core Catholics, the type that might travel hours to hear Scott Hahn speak or go to a Steubenville Conference. They attend Mass regularly (perhaps 2-3 times a month, maybe more) and identify as Catholic, but do not follow Catholic news or Catholic blogs. They form their impressions of the Church and her teachings from hearing the weekly homily, talking with their fellow Catholics, and following the mainstream news.
I have encountered many good and decent souls among my parish visits, but over time I’ve formed an impression of what I would call The Average Catholic. Let’s call her “Amy” (the Average Catholic is usually female):
We are all good people going to heaven. Amy the Average Catholic assumes she – and all her friends – are going to Heaven. Usually she ignores the topic of Hell; when pressed she would dismiss it as a medieval invention. Amy doesn’t believe there is anything fundamentally wrong with herself. Sure, she might eat too many sweets, or could work on her patience. But any problems she might have would only require a life coach, not a Savior.
The Church’s teachings on sexuality are an embarrassment. Amy believes the Church can be a force for good in this world, reminding people to be kind and to take care of those around us. But when it comes to moral issues, especially those related to sexuality, Amy is embarrassed by the Church’s teachings. She wishes the Church would just avoid those topics.
The Church is a place to socially gather and feel welcome. If asked, “Why are you Catholic?” Amy would probably answer vaguely that she grew up Catholic, and it makes her feel good about herself. She goes to her parish to see friends and hopefully hear a nice homily. It’s a place she feels welcome, and it’s what decent people do.
The Church evolves over time, and is better the more it is like the world. According to Amy, the Church has an unfortunate history it must get beyond. It’s not really the Church’s fault; after all, everyone used to be discriminatory and old-fashioned. But now that we are in the 21st century, the Church needs to be updated and become more like the world. Otherwise, the Church is in danger of being left behind.
Essentially, Amy the Average Catholic is an Episcopalian.
You know this is true and have heard it countless times talking to other Catholics. Read the whole piece: Meet Amy, the Average Catholic.