Monday, 21 January 2013
I am currently the Priest at two Churches in Nottingham. One of the Churches is in a area with a large immigrant population, and at that Church, over the last few months, we have seen a steady increase in numbers. This is good news. Many of the new Mass attendees are African, which is of course also good news. Many of these new African mass goers (at my Church) are clearly good Catholics, however I have become increasingly aware of a good proportion who don't quite know the Catholic language, so when I got called "minister" this morning, or when one of the young boys tells his mum in my hearing that "Father has a phone like our Pastor" I begin to wonder what is going on, which I'm not sure is quite such good news...
I have tried to ask directly what is going on but people seem to suddenly get quite vague. But to the best of my awareness I seem to have a fair few who were baptised Catholic, then spent time at Pentecostal Churches, and have now decided to come back to the Church of their birth, this is good. However I also seem to have a fair few who I suspect, though they may have been baptised Catholic, do not actually perceive themselves as Catholic at all, rather as generically "Christian" and simply come to us because they currently like something about the way we do mass, or find our time or location convenient. I expect however, that should they get bored they'd just as happily go to a New Testament Church of God Church, or Kingdom International Ministries Church of the Apostles (I made that last one up, but you get the idea..). This, to be honest, worries me, for it implies that for some reason they haven't fully grasped that the "Catholic" thing is essential, that it isn't equally valid to be in a Pentecostal Church as in the Catholic Church, indeed in the strict sense, the Pentecostal Church isn't even a Church at all. Jesus founded the Catholic Church alone as the ark of Salvation, and while other Christian communities share in something of that reality, it is, as it were, by reflected glory, and for a Catholic to have such indifferentism, is a serious problem. I realise that this is exactly what the Ecumenical movement has often sought to achieve, but it needs to be resisted.