Monday, November 1, 2010

The Limits of Centrism and the Conversation about Catholic Attrition

What I'm really saying in my endless posts about the Catholic center--or a facet of what I am saying--is this, as simply as I know how to say it:

It's inconsistent--it's not helpful at all--to open conversation about why so many folks are walking from the church today, and then to censor the insights of the very folks you claim to want to hear.  These are the insights of those of us who are walking away . . . . 

The center wants to have its conversation and eat it, too.  It wants to have conversation about this extraordinarily difficult and painful phenomenon of attrition that does not threaten or expose the systemic problems that are producing the attrition.

But we can't have it both ways.  If we really want to know why people are walking, we're going to have to let them talk.  And if we let them talk, we're going to have to be prepared to hear what we don't want to hear--what will cause the walls of the secure parochiality in which dwindling numbers of Catholics find themselves comfortable fall down.

We can either maintain the comfortable little club and let its walls close in on us, day by day, until it's a mere shell of any church that has the right to call itself catholic.  Or we can permit the kind of open, free discourse that is the only medicine for the attrition, knowing as we do so that we're going to be taking bitter medicine.

But the only medicine that can staunch the wounds in the church.

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