When I saw that Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York was writing about so-called ‘recovering Catholics’ in his Catholic New York column, To Whom Shall We Go, I had to stop immediately to see what he had to say. This same group, adults who were raised Catholic but are now separated from the Church for one reason or another, has been the focus of talks I give at various catechetical conferences. I call them the “lost generation,” those Catholics who came of age after Vatican II and often missed out on the core teachings of the faith. Now as former Catholics they buy into the secular world’s version of what the faith of their birth is all about.
Archbishop Dolan writes:
“No, unfortunately, when I hear personalities on the TV or radio, Hollywood stars, newspaper columnists or famous authors remark, ‘I used to be Catholic,’ or, ‘I was raised Catholic,’ they then continue, ‘But, I’m beyond that now. Thank God I’m now enlightened and liberated from those silly, irrational, superstitious shackles, and now I’m a ‘free-thinker’, a mature, adult individual.’ They might then smirk and remark that they are ‘recovering Catholics’ who are trying to ‘get over’ such a dark, oppressive part of their childhood.
“I’m afraid there are a lot of them these days. Recent scholarly religious studies show that one of the largest groups in American society today identifies itself as ‘ex-Catholics.’ While there is also a glimmer of good news in such studies that most people ‘raised’ Catholic faithfully remain so, and that some of those who do leave, in fact, do come back, there’s still no denying that it’s a chilling statistic to read.”
The archbishop goes on to note that Pope Benedict XVI has observed that it doesn’t take much courage to stand against the Catholic faith in general and the magisterium in particular, since that is what society wants to hear. What takes courage is sticking with the faith even when the world is against you.
“Yep, it hardly takes courage to brag that you ‘used to be a Catholic, but have now ‘grown up’ and are enlightened.’ Big deal. Join the crowd. The audience will applaud. The critics will rave about your book. The talk shows will invite you on as a star. You can snicker about the Church and get laughs and cheers,” Archbishop Dolan writes.
“I wonder, though, if the really enlightened, mature, liberated, brave, prophetic folks are those who are humbly, joyfully and gratefully confident in their Catholic faith, who are well aware of the Church’s struggles and imperfections, but still eager to live it sincerely, and pass it on to their kids and those they love.”
Read his full column by clicking HERE.