What’s the Most Urgent Problem Facing the Church?

What’s the most urgent problem facing the church? How would you answer that question?

Pope Francis, in a remarkable interview in the Italian newspaper La Repubblica, said this:

The most serious of the evils that afflict the world these days are youth unemployment and the loneliness of the old. The old need care and companionship; the young need work and hope but have neither one nor the other, and the problem is they don’t even look for them any more. They have been crushed by the present. You tell me: can you live crushed under the weight of the present? Without a memory of the past and without the desire to look ahead to the future by building something, a future, a family? Can you go on like this? This, to me, is the most urgent problem that the Church is facing.

That’s not a bad answer. It’s direct enough for people to relate to it, but objective enough to see how this is not just a problem for a few isolated individuals.

What’s the most urgent problem facing the church? What’s the most urgent problem in Anchorage? In the Sand Lake region? Among our congregation? What’s the most urgent problem facing you?

(This quote is from the second in-depth interview given by the Pope in less than a month. Earlier in September, he spoke to the Jesuit publication America. Both of them are fascinating insights into a person who has great potential to change the Catholic Church for the better.)

Pope Francis Interview

I’m working my way through the interview with Pope Francis appearing today in the Jesuit publication America, but I liked this bit. Important word to people in leadership positions, especially in the church.

John XXIII adopted this attitude with regard to the government of the church, when he repeated the motto, ‘See everything; turn a blind eye to much; correct a little.’ John XXIII saw all things, the maximum dimension, but he chose to correct a few, the minimum dimension. You can have large projects and implement them by means of a few of the smallest things. Or you can use weak means that are more effective than strong ones, as Paul also said in his First Letter to the Corinthians.

Francis is talking about the corrections John XXIII oversaw with the Second Vatican Council. So some people might say that’s a pretty big “little” that John XXIII tackled. And if that’s the minimum dimension, it gives you a sense of how big the maximum dimension must be.

(Cross-posted from Pastor Luke’s blog.)

Authenticity Matters

I came across a remarkable article on Esquire entitled “Pope Francis is Awesome” (via Real Clear Religion).

I actually agree with the writer about Francis. He is “kind of awesome.” It’s not my place to tell the Catholics how to run their church, but if it were, I’d tell them they could have done a lot worse than name Cardinal Bergoglio as Pope.

But that’s not what I found remarkable. This is much more impressive:

…as an atheist, I don’t really care about any of that. I’m sure it takes guts and brains to try and reform the Church, but whether the Vatican is a strong or a weak institution is of the smallest possible concern to me. What is much more important is how he has used many small gestures to demonstrate the possibilities of compassion.

The writer is an atheist!

When we live out our faith instead of just talking about it, people can’t help but notice. They may not like us, or our church, or organized religion at all. Some of them don’t even like Jesus. But when we act like we mean the things we say, they notice.

What’s something we as followers of Christ claim to believe, but sometimes fail to live out? Can you think of one small thing like that? If you can, make a point of doing it at least once this week. After all, it’s what we believe even if nobody notices!