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Convince, not demand

March 6, 2015
Denis Nolan
Daly City

In the past few weeks, we have been seeing a phenomenon that has become all too common across this country and which shows a major weakness in the Catholic Church. This is the movement of bishops and pastors from one area to another with the belief that their new territory is “their” parish or diocese. In being given the position of pastor, they believe that, as Article 87 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church states, “… the faithful (shall) receive with docility the teachings and directives that their pastors give them in different forms.”

Unfortunately, that is the thinking of a century ago when less than 10 percent of the people had a high school education. Even as few as 50 years ago, just as Vatican II took place, only 40 percent of Americans had graduated from high school and less than 8 percent had college degrees. Today, more than 30 percent have college degrees, and between television and the Internet, most of the society has a great deal more knowledge than even the most educated of those past times. Docility no longer enters the equation. In addition, Vatican II said that the church is the people of God, and parishes and dioceses are no longer the sole property of the pastors. Those pastors are now to serve the people, not command them.

Add to that equation the democratic form of selecting leaders and we have a society which is far less likely to accept being told what we are supposed to do. Today you must convince people, not demand that they obey.

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