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By Stephen P. White, The Catholic Thing, Sept. 26, 2019
Mass attendance is down. Financial contributions at the parish and diocesan levels are down. Catholic marriages and infant baptisms have been plummeting for years. Most of these trends did not begin with the abuse crisis, but anecdotal evidence from the last year suggests that the crisis has accelerated these trends.
Who will restore the Church? Where will the renewal we all know is needed – and which we all long to see – come from? From the bishops? From Rome? I have said many times: If it is to come at all, authentic reform in the Church will come through and with the bishop of Rome and the bishops in communion with him. For those with faith, this is little less than a tautology. It just doesn’t get us very far.
Trusting that the Lord will preserve his Church doesn’t require us to believe or expect that reform will spring from Rome or begin at the initiative of one of the successors of the Apostles. History tells us that most great ecclesial reforms have not begun with the pope. Most great reforms have not begun with bishops. The pattern, always, is that renewal begins with sanctity, wherever it is found.
Sanctity is not the province of the clergy. Let me rephrase that: sanctity is not only for those in holy orders. The call to sanctity is universal, extending to all the baptized, indeed to all humanity. I was once at a conference where someone was commenting on something Pope Francis had said about holiness. A prominent social justice activist sitting beside me scoffed: “I’ve never thought about holiness a single day in my life.” I was inclined to believe her. ….
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