What are the main challenges facing the Church today? According to Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York there are basically four rooted in the fundamental challenge from Pentecost, "Go out to the world and preach the Gospel".
1. Instability of marriage and family. "That's where we have the real vocation crisis...only 50% of our Catholic young are getting married". "We have a vocation crisis to life-long, life-giving, loving, faithful marriage. If we take care of that one, we’ll have all the priests and nuns we need for the church,”.
2. The state of parishes and schools. We have to "maintain and strengthen the blessed infrastructure that we have in the Catholic Church in the United States.” This infrastructure, the parishes, schools, religious education programs, Catholic Charities and hospitals, has “fortified the Church” for “over 200 years.” Now, however, these same institutions are struggling because of their size and cost and need to be strengthened because “now more than ever does the Church need a public face.” “A lot of people out there who would like to exclude the Church from any type of public witness and we can’t let that happen."
3. Fallen away Catholics. “It scares the life out of me when I find out that second most identifiable religious grouping on the religious landscape of the United States are people who say, ‘I used to be a Catholic.’” “We [bishops] have to say, ‘no, look, there is no such thing as a former Catholic. Your Catholicism is, as a matter of fact, in your DNA. And whether you like it or not you’re born into it just like you’re born into a natural family.’” "Now, you might say, ‘I’m ticked off at my natural family, I’m not hanging around with them anymore, I’ve got things to work out.’ But you’re still a member of that family and sooner or later you usually make your peace with it and go home.”
“The Church is our supernatural family, you might be upset with it, you might not be showing up for Sunday dinner, you might be mad at it about a couple of things…but you’re still a member.” The Church “is your supernatural family, and, darn it, we need you and want you to come back home. You’re always welcome”.
4. Catholics in the public square. The final challenge is confronting “a culture” with many “strident voices who want to keep” God, morals, virtue and the Church “out of the public square.” There are those who say “religion is fine as an individual hobby… but don’t enforce it on the rest of us.” However, without the voice of the Church, “our public square is reduced if the Church isn’t part of it, and what makes America great is that religion has always had a strong, respected place at the table.” Those who want to exclude the voice of the Church are involved in “galloping secularism.” “There are those movers and shakers in society that want to take the teeth out of religion and we can’t let that happen.” “We’ve got something to say, and darn it, we want to say it.”
In my analysis it all comes down to identity--hey, what a great title for a blog. If we don't know who we are and why we believe what we do, we cannot have an impact on others. If the art of living remains an unknown, nothing else works.
Original article from CNA