Interview on April 11, 2022, with Stephanie, who is studying psychology, outside the Student Union Building at Los Angeles City College.
Do you consider yourself religious?
Stephanie: I don’t go to church often, but I do believe in a religion. It helps me make decisions in my life. If I’m doing something wrong, I look at religion as the reason why I feel guilty. I was raised Catholic, so growing up my parents would take us to Mass every week. You were supposed to do your First Communion, so you go to like church school on the weekends for two years. Now that I’m busier with work, I don’t find the time to go.
Do you believe in an afterlife?
Stephanie: Yes. I believe that, just like in the Bible where it says that Jesus resurrected, I feel like human beings will too, and there is an afterlife. I believe there is both heaven and hell. If you do good, you will go to heaven and if you don’t, then you probably won’t.
How can people know what’s good?
Stephanie: If you feel good about your actions, like helping others and not hurting other people, like killing, rape, stuff that will harm other people.
What would you say if someone asked you, “Who’s Jesus?”
Stephanie: I would describe Him, saying He is the Son of God Who sacrificed Himself for humanity’s sins. He was the One chosen by God to come to earth and give His word, teach people about Him and about the religion.
Why do you think there is a God?
Stephanie: I don’t understand why people don’t believe in God. I feel like it’s just something that implementing in your life helps you be a better person, live a better life, regardless of whether it’s truth or not.
Do you think abortion is right or wrong?
Stephanie: I think that definitely times have changed now and it’s not like back in the days where people had to meet certain standards. I think people definitely have the right, with gay marriage and all that, too. I think people are allowed to live a life that will make them happy.
What if what makes someone happy hurts someone else, like how an abortion kills someone?
Stephanie: I think that people should have the decision if they have an unwanted pregnancy, for whatever their case may be, that it should be okay for them to make a certain decision.
Do you think that someone who has male DNA is a woman if he thinks he is? Is it true that he is a woman?
Stephanie: Yes, if they develop the characteristics of the sex they want to be. I know a couple of people and they act more feminine sometimes, even than I am. They really are cautious of the way they look and take care of themselves in a feminine way, so I do believe that yes, they probably do believe the sex that they want to be. They apply it very well to their life.
The Church faces several serious problems.
1. Large numbers of Catholics, despite Catholic school and parish catechesis, know hardly anything about what it means to be Catholic.
2. Many people, Catholics included, think religion amounts to being nice and asking God for favors when needed.
3. Many lapsed Catholics experience that they aren’t missing out on anything by skipping Mass on Sundays.
4. Many celebrations of Mass aren’t compelling enough to attract lapsed Catholics back.
5. American culture, media, business, and government have turned decidedly hostile towards Catholic morality.
6. Many Catholics who do still attend Mass out of habit are described by #1 above and will choose comfort over Christ, when it comes down to it.
7. The American bishops, who are meeting this week, are clueless about what to do about all of the above.
8. American priests aren’t much better.
My prognostication is that the American Church faces imminent collapse. I’m surprised more people don’t see it that way.
Sad but True!
immanent collapse, you know the remedy.
This is an interesting list of the ills of the modern church. But there are more, but that would take tomes to write down. There are a couple of things that we might all consider, that you list: what does it mean to be Catholic and in spite of parish catechesis … I went to Catholic school, had the catechism drilled into me, was an altar boy for six years in a very “high catholic” parish, went through four years of Newman Club, and went to mass for more than eighty years. I would love to have someone tell me what it means to be Catholic. Religious teachings were pounded into my head, mostly rote learning. Kids don’t learn that way anymore. We in the 30th year of the digital age and haven’t changed our teaching methods. Kids today are taught to question everything, to wonder, to examine, to conclude, to discern. Frankly, most don’t agree with the teachings of the church about abortion, same-sex marriage, and gender identity. Our teachings are now considered hate speech. I don’t know the answer to the problem, except it is not to go back to the way we once developed faith.
To be Catholic means that you accept that Jesus Christ is the 2nd Person of the Holy Trinity and that He died so that sins can be forgiven, He rose from the dead and ascended into Heaven. He established His Church with Peter as the Head. The Church is infallible because the Holy Spirit guides the Church.
Because we have been baptized, we are part of the Body of Christ. Just as Jesus is sinless, we should be, too. But because of fallen human nature it is difficult. He gave us the Sacraments to strengthen us.
Part of the infallible teachings of the Church is that human life is sacred, that taking human life is wrong; that the marital act is sacred to matrimony.
Part of the spirituality of the Church is acceptance of God’s Will. Thus we pray: Thy Kingdom Come; Thy Will be done on earth as it is in Heaven. We believe that Heaven is filled with angels who do only God’s Will. The angels who refused to do God’s Will fell and became demons who torture and tempt humankind.
Part of God’s Will is that we should feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, shelter the homeless, visit the sick and imprisoned, clothe the naked as it is Jesus suffering in those in want.
Part of God’s Will is that we spread the Gospel.
Because we baptize as infants and we do not give proper formation in the family, youth today is tempted by more things than ever. Pray for them.
Sad-I believe the problem with the Catholic Church lies in the fact that too many active members do not believe in the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. Secondly, the celebrant of Mass needs to proclaim with enthusiasm his homily.
John C. — I couldn’t agree with you more, and it’s the crux of the issue. Our young Catholics have been deprived of a profound faith formation in this country, and others. In the past, the teaching authority of the Church was respected and trusted. Adult Catholics had great reverence for the Eucharist and could entrust their children to be instructed in the faith by the religious teachers at their schools and CCD programs. What crept in through weak religious education was a diminishment of the Divinity of Christ. The proof is in the pews. It is also within the clergy itself. With the sex-abuse scandals and cover-ups, and the spineless disinclination of bishops to correct deviant behaviors by priests and Catholic politicians alike, the Church has lost its moral authority.
Too bad you don’t know/believe in the real presences of our LordJesus Christ, who is our consecrated bread and wine to nourish our soul. Who said whoever does not eat of my body has no life in you. Whoever eats of my body worthily has eternal life….
The Church should be more pro active like some of the other religions, in that they should go out to the people not wait for people to go to them. Many latinos who were Catholic once are now so called “Christians” and follow other religions all due to pro-activity by other groups. If you don’t go to mountain, the mountain will go to you.
Youth has always been rebellious, some more so than others. Then there are the ones like Solomon who acted wisely at first until he married pagan wives and became evil himself, Queens Jezebel and Athaliah following. And the other Protestant religions have their problems too. Have you ever gotten family “Christmas” cards with pictures of the parents along with the teen girls in bikinis in seductive poses and nothing about Jesus? Well, we have.
Look at the comments. Do you see joy? Do you see peace? Do you see love?
I feel the churches of all religions have turned from the love of God and Jesus! It’s all about the money and power now. The church calling Trump the chosen one. Bull. The children being molested and abused. The leaders have lost their meaning of Godly. They lie and mislead the people. Like the Bible says, Those that think they will be first will be last to get thru the gates of heaven. All you church leaders better wake up, you are losing your flock and the good lord will not be happy with you!!! My opinion.