October 20, 2016

News Items that Caught my Attention Recently

By Msgr. M. Francis Mannion *

In clearing out my “Viewpoint” shoebox at the end of summer, I found a few items that might be of interest. Here are five.

The Need for Good Preaching – Again!

A recent Pew Poll Center put preaching at the top of the list when Christians are searching for a new parish or congregations.

“This is what people value in a congregation – a good message, a good homily that resonates with them and gives them guidance,” according to Greg Smith, Pew’s associate director for religious research.

More than 4 out of 5 people (83 percent) put preaching at the top of their checklist of what keeps them in a particular congregation.

I have already mentioned in this column the survey conducted by the Diocese of Metuchen, N.J., some time ago, which showed that bad homilies are the principal reason people left the Church.

I have the impression that bishops and priests have not yet taken the full measure of the crisis here.

Norway Leads the Way!

Norway, a nation of 5 million people and one of the world’s most liberal societies, recently passed a law that allows citizens to change gender without a doctor’s permission or intervention. Argentina, Denmark, and Ireland (can you believe it?) already have similar laws, but only Norway and Malta extend the law to cover children. With parental permission, Norwegian children as young as six can now self-assign as male or female, overruling the gender into which they were born.

In my opinion, the phenomenon of changing genders is perhaps the most serious attack on the traditional understanding of the human person.

If I recall correctly, Archbishop Cordileone of San Francisco has identified 14 gender variations currently in the works. I wonder where this will lead us in 20 years!

While We're at It!

The recent birth of a three-parent baby is another voyage into the world of weird genetics. The procedure performed in Mexico, to get around American regulations on such matters, was conducted by creating an embryo that had the genetic contributions of three people.

The procedure was generally condemned by American geneticists and physicians, who predicted all kinds of abuses and unforeseen outcomes.

Will this procedure become legal in the U.S? Of course, it will!

More Liturgical Shenanigans!

The Internet, as we all know, has allowed the broadcast of all kinds of things worldwide, including liturgical abuses. This has only upped the “liturgy wars” and created greater polarization between “conservatives” and “liberals.”

For the entire world to see, the internet recently showed the Archbishop of Palermo, Italy, cycling around inside his cathedral in full vestments, including miter. The event was done to celebrate some sort of sporting event.

This kind of thing is bad enough, but it eventually gets to Rome and causes the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments to become alarmed and to assume a more anxious and negative attitude toward liturgy around the world.

Middle-age Folk Masses

After Vatican II, folk Masses became all the rage. They were usually led by young guitar-playing musicians in their 20s.

Now in the new millennium, folk Masses are led by people in their 50s and 60s—still playing guitars and using the same menus of hymns from past decades. In my opinion, the folk Mass phenomenon needs to fade out or be progressively complemented by the more “traditional” offering of choir/(cantor) and organ and “traditional” Masses settings and hymns.

The intended appeal of folk Masses to the young does not seem to have worked, since the young are scarcely to be found in Church these days.

Msgr. Mannion is pastor emeritus of St. Vincent de Paul parish in Salt Lake City. He holds a Ph.D in sacramental theology from The Catholic University of America. He was founding president of The Society for Catholic Liturgy in 1995 and the founding editor of the Societys journal, Antiphon. At the invitation of Cardinal Francis George of Chicago he founded the Mundelein Liturgical Institute in 2000.

* Catholic News Agency columns are opinion and do not necessarily express the perspective of the agency.

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