These Days of Testing, by Helen Freeh

19-Year-Old Recovers as Doctors Start to Harvest Her Organs
November 20, 2019
Saint of the Day for November 21: Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary
November 21, 2019

*Image: The Virgin among the Virgins by Gerard David, 1509 [Musée des Beaux-Arts, Rouen, France]

By Helen Freeh, The Catholic Thing, Nov. 20, 2019

Dr. Helen Freeh, a new contributor, received her B.A. and M. A. from the University of Dallas, and her Ph.D. from Baylor University. She has taught at Hillsdale College, where she met her husband, John. She is now in temporary early retirement, raising and homeschooling their children in Lincoln, Nebraska.

Note: There’s an old Latin saying, ecclesia semper reformanda (“a Church always in need of reform”) that should never be far from our minds. But at certain times the truth of that maxim is closer to the surface than at others. Today Helen Freeh looks at our current crisis – and the responsibility we all have for the fact that it exists, and for doing something about it: A great challenge that presents great opportunities. At The Catholic Thing, we’ve been involved in these labors for several years and intend to stay at them for as long as it takes to bring about better days. We literally cannot do so without your help. If you want us to do some great things together for the Church and the world, please do your part. Click the button. Follow the instructions. Be part of the Catholic thing. – Robert Royal

Helen FreehFr. Thomas Weinandy recently wrote a sobering article on this site in which he concluded: “I believe it will be the laity who bring about the needed purification. . . . More specifically, I believe it will depend mostly on faithful and courageous Catholic women.” Cardinal Robert Sarah in his new book, The Day Is Now Far Spent, also speculates that “women have a special role to play” in helping priests dedicate themselves “radically to God.” Perhaps, as Pope Francis has declared, this is the “Age of the Laity.” But I have my doubts.

If we laity are the ones to fix this mess, then just how can we do it, having no institutional power in Church politics?  Are we simply to use the power of the purse to force wayward bishops “back in line”?

That is no true solution to this problem, although recent financial reports suggest that Peter’s Pence may be suffering in its annual revenues, which no doubt will get the attention of Rome.

The two laymen’s forcible removal of the wooden fertility statues from the church of Santa Maria in Traspontina ought to be a serious wake-up call to the Vatican bureaucracy regarding the steps some laity are willing to take in response to a sense of outrage and powerlessness.  The removal of the statues temporarily resolved a problem, but clearly cannot resolve The Problem.

The burden of a rebirth for the Church seems unfairly to have been put on the shoulders of the laity, especially given that most lay Catholics have been poorly catechized in Catholic schools and parishes – see the recent Pew study, which found that almost 70 percent of Catholics do not believe in the Real Presence. ….