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Our readersSeptember 14, 2023
Photo via iStock.

Study after study confirms that young Americans are leaving religious institutions. But the trend does not have to continue, according to Cecilia González-Andrieau, who unpacked the issue in America last month. Catholics must authentically and lovingly live out their faith in their everyday lives, she wrote. “When we fail to connect faith and action,” she wrote, “the reign of God seems very far indeed.” Our readers had a lot to say in response. 

I can see how some young people would see the church as irrelevant, because it does not address the biggest crises facing God’s children today. Unfortunately, many Catholics, particularly the older, more established ones who likely provide a lot of support for the church, do not feel that it is the church’s place to get into economics and politics when the likely impact of that rubs against their ability to make money. Their faith is driven by their politics and economics, and not the other way around. So I am afraid that the Catholic Church is faced with alienating its future or its soon-to-be past members. 
Paul Gulig

Thank you, Dr. González-Andrieu, for portraying the reality of church and how far we have strayed from the model Jesus lived and showed us. Jesus was all about relationships. How did so many within our hierarchical institution become so ego-driven as to fail to see that putting the institution before people betrays our God of love? With all my heart, I feel the Holy Spirit rustling in the wind, shaking up what might look like endings. In reality, I believe these are times of powerful new beginnings that are bringing about the energies of God’s love. 
Dr. Geraldine Kerr

How did so many within our hierarchical institution become so ego-driven as to fail to see that putting the institution before people betrays our God of love?

The model we should follow is found in all the communities that are growing by leaps and bounds, the places where parishes, seminaries, convents and monasteries are full. Where it is standing room only on Sundays. Where flourishing youth groups, choirs, Bible studies, excellent guest speakers and, most importantly, adoration, multiple opportunities for confession and holy priests at the helm abound. These are the models of success that everyone should be imitating. These are the places that are truly changing the world one soul at a time. (Check out the millions who listen to Father Mike Schmitz.) Authorizing or enabling grave sins is a surefire recipe for zero growth. The answer is always the same: Return to orthodoxy and the people will come.
Patty Berdanier

Thank you for your clear-eyed painting of today’s reality set in historical context, a very sobering picture to contemplate. Likewise, thank you for reminding us of the many opportunities to put our faith in action—in essence, to love. You connect the dots and clarify what our responsibilities are. Your references to the historical Jesus stripped of our contemporary perspective (seen through a glass darkly) are a wake-up call, a call to hope, a call to action. 
Kathryn Buckley

Living the Gospel isn’t always as glamorous or visible as taking to the streets and making big gestures. But “there lives the dearest freshness deep down things…” in unseen work done by priests serving well beyond retirement age, sisters and brothers who continue the quiet work of prayer and service until God calls them, families who nurture and love a disabled brother or sister, or those who sacrifice to keep an aging parent or relative surrounded by family. These lives speak of discipline, self-sacrifice and are probably supported and maintained by a commitment to prayer and the sacraments. These quiet lives sustain us and may be our greatest teachers. These are the lives that call to us when we feel lost, that point to a better way, that are not dependent on particular programs or education or political climates. They go deeper than the confusions of the moment and simply open their arms to the immediate and proximate call for help. Their example gives the Lord five loaves and two fish.
Maureen O’Riordan Lundy

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