Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Lies, damned lies and...

This just in from that fun-lovin' bunch at the National Secular Society:

"Catholic Church shown to be economical with the statistical truth"
(and isn't that a great headline? Worked on me!)

Anthony Spencer, who runs Pastoral Research, said the Church’s own figures were little more than guesswork, based on rough estimates of mass attendance.

Mr Spencer said: “Mass immigration is masking a huge alienation among the Catholic community. There is a huge unexplained loss of people to be found when you look at those who were baptised as babies, but who are not getting married or holding funerals and subsequent baptisms in Church.”

Mr Spencer said that his statistics showed that 530,000 Catholics had ceased even minimal involvement with the Church since 1997, whereas official Church statistics put it at 72,000.

[Aside: Naturally, the NSS is way behind. This revelation of the Church's duplicity is, of course, a straw man...or could be a red herring... anyway, the idea that the Catholic Church's governing class knows that we're in big trouble statistically and is trying to hide it, is absurd. Anyone who goes to Mass anywhere in this country will see for themselves. And, of course, it's being reported in the news all the time. The phrase "decline in Mass attendance" is so common in the news that you can use it effectively for a Google News keyword search. But hey, its the NSS, another organization well known for its objectivity and intellectual honesty.]

Now, putting aside the NSS' obsessive hatred of the Catholic Church, (nothin' we aren't used to by now!) these are some interesting and useful statistics, I think. But what the NSS fails to note is that those of us Catholics who still bother are mostly those who actually believe the doctrines and dogmas of the Catholic religion. What has happened in recent decades for reasons we won't bother with here, is that most of the people who are, or were, actually sitting in pews and who are drifting away, are those who don't.

As I've pointed out elsewhere. For the most part, those who are left are the ones for whom it would be unthinkable, unimaginable to "drift" out of the practice of the Faith. Those whose daily existence and entire universal outlook are formed by a religious understanding that can be replaced by nothing else and who appreciate the seriousness of the obligations that understanding imposes. This sort does not “drift away” from the practice of their faith.

As we know Papa R. has said somewhere that we will be looking at a much smaller and much more faithful Catholic Church in the coming years. There will be no more idle pew-sitters, or cultural Catholics or people who go because their mothers go. People who go to Mass, will be the sort willing to risk what others have risked for the same thing in the past. The sort who will hide priests in their homes, if necessary, and give sturdy defences of the Faith while standing before the gallows.

All indications, including those in Mr. Spencer’s report show that this is coming to pass.

Personally, with all respect to the NSS (meaning none) I’d call it an improvement.

I would be loath to speak anything that might sound of any insolent brag or challenge, especially being now as a dead man to this world and willing to put my head under every man's foot, and to kiss the ground they tread upon. Yet I have such courage in avouching the majesty of Jesus my King, and such affiance in his gracious favour, and such assurance in my quarrel, and my evidence so impregnable, and because I know perfectly that no one Protestant, nor all the Protestants living, nor any sect of our adversaries (howsoever they face men down in pulpits, and overrule us in their kingdom of grammarians and unlearned ears) can maintain their doctrine in disputation. I am to sue most humbly and instantly for combat with all and every of them, and the most principal that may be found: protesting that in this trial the better furnished they come, the better welcome they shall be.

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