To the editor:
In his November piece, "Is Catholic chasm growing?", Mike Latona correctly acknowledges that turmoil within the Church is nothing new. However, the article — like the related ones throughout the same edition — leaves one with the misguided impression that there exist two parallel versions of Catholicism, both of which amount to a matter of individual preference.
But do we find any reference to the universal Magisterium — that is, the Church’s apostolic teaching authority in matters of faith and morals? Several of the questions mentioned in the opening paragraphs, although presented as ambiguous and debatable issues, have long been matters of settled Catholic teaching. To ignore this only perpetuates the very confusion and division that are the subject of the analysis.
On the other hand, how much responsibility for a deepening rift can be saddled on those who give assent to the faith in its entirety, and are only trying to live accordingly? To do this is not to "cling to positions on either side of the divide." It does not make one "conservative", but simply a believing, practicing Catholic.
The article also mentions placing blame for declining Mass attendance and priestly ordinations. Contrary to local perceptions, there are plenty of regions right within the U.S. that are teeming with large, young families, are staffed with young and enthusiastic priests, and are experiencing relative booms in priestly and religious vocations. I witness it with my own eyes where I currently live.
Jesus said, "You will know them by their fruit." With that in mind, how do the attitudes and approaches in such regions where the Church is thriving differ from those in places experiencing the withering and slow death of parishes and faith communities? This seems like a far more urgent and productive question to ask.
Michael F. TamaraElmira Heights