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Posted July 23, 2007

Words Worth Pondering

Approaches to priesthood. “You [newly ordained priests] will be completely involved in the human situation; bound up with human beings in the bundle of life; bearing with people without getting irritated, not losing your temper when they are appear to be senselessly blind. At the end of the day, you must have the attitude which spends itself in a gentle yet powerful sympathy, patiently molding people back to the right way. No priest can deal with another in this manner unless he has a God-given sense of wisdom and understanding.” (Bishop James Moynihan of Syracuse, N.Y., in a June 2, 2007, ordination homily)

Fighting poverty strategically. “The fight against poverty and extreme poverty in particular is rightly spoken of as a battle. But just knowing that you have the means needed to win does not ensure victory in any battle. Winning a battle requires the means, but also effective strategies. … We talk of a preferential option for the poor. It is a term which refers to the action of God who through the history of salvation has addressed his care in a special way toward the poor. Social policy requires a similar principle which focuses of the special causes of disadvantage of any group and addresses them strategically.” (Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin, Ireland, in a homily June 25, 2007)

Why Hispanic Catholics Really Leave the Church

Karen Sue Smith, editorial director for America magazine, the Jesuit weekly, discussed a study titled “Changing Faiths: Latinos and the Transformation of American Religion” (Pew Hispanic Center and Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life) in an article for the June 18-25, 2007, edition of America. She focused on why many U.S. Hispanic Catholics leave the church.

Some do “because they are inspired by an evangelical pastor (35 percent), others because of a deep personal crisis (26 percent) or marriage to an evangelical (14 percent),” Smith wrote. But, she added immediately, “the former Catholics themselves gave the most plausible explanation: More than eight in 10 desired a direct, personal experience of God,” which “would be good news, were it not for the heartbreaking inference that they did not experience such an encounter at their local parish.”

“These people” said Smith, “are not angry or negative about Catholicism. Rather, they yearn for something deeply spiritual: more of God.”

For most Hispanic Catholics, the Mass is “lively and exciting,” Smith wrote. But “another group finds worship lacking and, seeking a direct personal experience of God in community worship, quietly goes elsewhere.” She noted that more than half of the Hispanic Catholics consider themselves charismatics.

To reduce “the departure of nearly one in five Hispanics,” parishes “will have to meet this spiritual need,” said Smith.