Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Catholics and catholics

I've progressed in my thinking about catholics and voting to the point where I have identified four categories of catholics: Nominal, Unchurched, Weekly and Observant. Nominal catholics self-identify for polling purposes and are probably canonically Catholic (i.e., baptized). But they do not participate in the Liturgy of the Church, even at Christmas. Unchurched catholics haven't attended Liturgy "within the past six months 'excluding special services such as Easter, Christmas, weddings or funerals'". Weekly Catholics attend Mass every or almost every Sunday, but routinely miss all or most all Holy Days of Obligation. Observant Catholics attend every or almost every Sunday and Holy Days of Obligation. (This last are a "grave obligation" for the Faithful and, thus, potential matter for a mortal sin.)

I'm not sure what the relative sizes of the four groups are. Between a quarter and almost a half of catholics attend weekly Mass. Being a pessimist by habit, I tend to believe the first number. Christmas swells the attendance considerably--from four Masses more than half full to at least six Masses, two or more of which are standing room only. Holy Days of Obligation, reduce the attendance to half or less of regular Sunday attendance (That's a week after Christmas, here in Canada; the feast of Mary, Mother of God.).

From these numbers I guestimate that of people self-identifying as catholic, 10% are Observant, 15% Weekly, 30% Unchurched and 45% Nominal. This isn't a simple grade from "best" to "worst". For one thing, the Catholics who are causing the most scandal in the Church in the last few decades (Professor Kmiec and catholic priestesses, for example) almost surely fall into the Observant category. Attendance at Mass isn't an indication of "thinking with the Church".

What does any of that mean? I'm not sure. But it seems that evangelization and catechesis are the answers to the scandal of catholics voting for an extremely pro-abortion candidate, when moral alternatives exist. And each group broadly considered has specific needs: Evangelization for the Nominal and the Unchurched; Catechesis for the Weekly and the Observant.

Here's a start on that project:

Reaching Inactive Catholics: For those of you interested in evangelization, I'd like to recommend this upcoming on-line offering by the Paulist National Evangelistic Association.

Keys to Reaching Inactive Catholics (January 2009)

Read the whole thing.

(Via Intentional Disciples.)

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