Catholic families: strong on prayer, weak on sacraments
Below this headline of a report by Cathy Lynn Grossman at Religion News Service is this lede.
"Most of today’s American Catholic parents don’t go to Mass, provide any Catholic education for their children or stress the basic sacraments beyond baptism."Given that, what could "strong on prayer" possibly mean?
"And yet a new study of these families finds good news: 'They still have a relationship with God and pray for their family,' said a co-author of the research, Mark Gray at the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate."CARA reports his reseach results in The Catholic Family: 21st Century Challenges in the United States.
"Among the study’s findings — and challenges:That report and the interviewees don't stress that none of this is really news. As Bishop Donald J. Hying noted, "We now have at least two full generations of Catholics who do not know the basics of the faith and who have abandoned the practice of it in droves." ('Engage youth during critical years of their faith development', Herald of Hope column, Milwaukee Catholic Herald, September 25, 2014.) The report goes on.
"One in three did not find it very important to them that their children celebrate their First Communion. One in four didn’t consider it very important that they be confirmed. These are red flags for the future, said Gray. 'If you don’t have First Communion and you’re not confirmed, you are more likely to leave the faith as an adult. You can’t take Communion or really practice your faith.'
"68 percent of Catholic parents do not take their children to a Catholic school, parish religious training or even a Catholic youth ministry. This is significantly less than in previous generations, based on CARA surveys of adults reflecting on their religious education, said Gray. [Holy Cross Family Ministries marketing director Susan] Wallace called the finding 'staggering.'"
"Less than half (49 percent) pay any attention to Catholic information sources in any form."Now, to me, the attempts elsewhere in the report to characterize this ongoing disaster as 'good news/bad news' look like complacency. As I've said elsewhere, it sure seems there would have been more reaction sooner to problems on this scale in a secular context where money, rather than souls, was at stake. Compare parish efforts at evangelization to that put into a typical building fund drive.