Often emerging from conversations with those who have chosen to disaffiliate from the Catholic Church is the observation, call it a complaint, from disaffiliates that growing up they were not afforded the opportunity within the church to speak, to ask questions, to challenge and to doubt.
Consider these comments from prior blog posts.
Of course, the Catholic Church is not helpless to respond, to change. Also consider the following from prior blog posts.
Nor does that need for questioning disappear, a fact that has become abundantly clear as I’ve participated in an ecumenical men’s group for many years now.
Although by definition we are a faith group, predominantly Lutheran and Catholic, the religious pedigree of our men’s group is diverse and our understandings and beliefs ever evolving. We have in common that we are all “mature” men (i.e., average age somewhere north of 60). On matters of faith and belief, we are seekers.
As seekers we also are questioners, and have found in our group a safe and supportive space to ask and say anything without fear of judgment, censorship, or ridicule. We challenge each other, but never with the object to convert or silence. Consensus is not the goal, but honest exploration of ideas and beliefs.
At various times over the course of our now hundreds of Tuesday mornings together, one or another of the guys has voiced appreciation for this sacred space for coffee and friendly conversation about faith. Most of us grew up during a time when such a friendly mixing of Catholics and Lutherans (or Catholics and non-Catholics, for that matter) was frowned upon, and true faith meant you kept any questions or doubts to yourself.
Thank God those times have passed. With that said, the seekers in my men’s group also grew up at a time when the culture still supported belief in God and a level of trust in religious institutions and faith. For young people today, that cultural affirmation of faith and church is greatly diminished.
If we also discourage asking questions, sharing doubts, exploring the mysteries of belief, if we don’t provide supportive places for those conversations to take place—where will young seekers be drawn? Where will they find a home, a supportive place for the seeking of the sacred, the seeking of meaning and purpose, the exploration of what it means to be human?
Jerry Ruff, Senior Writer and Editor
Saint Mary’s Press Research
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