This past week, when the U.S. bishops met in Baltimore for their fall general assembly, they were expected to discuss many topics. The specter of Theodore McCarrick and Bishop Michael Bransfield no doubt hung over the proceedings as did the very real problem of sexual abuse and the U.S. church’s proactive manner of dealing with it.
The lawsuits that are affecting almost every diocese in the United States was likely discussed. In addition, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, the archbishop of Galveston-Houston, who had served as the president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, concluded his term, and so the bishop needed to elect a new president.
Topics concerning the pastoral life of the people of God in the United States, such as immigration, pro-life activities, vocations and the Program of Priestly Formation were on the table. Translations of liturgical texts was another likely subject.
One topic that should have been particularly interesting was the evangelization of the fastest-growing population in the United States — the “nones.”
Who are the nones? They are the vast number of people who say they hold absolutely no religious beliefs. We have gone, as a church, from concerning ourselves with ecumenical dialogue with our fellow Christians, both Orthodox and Protestant, and with relations with our older brothers and sisters in the Old Covenant, the Jews, and with Islam and other religions, to dialogue with those who have zero religious faith.
The nones, many of them young and highly educated, aren’t agnostic, doubting the existence of God. The nones aren’t atheistic because of well thought-out philosophical reasons. They simply don’t factor the transcendent, the Divine, into their worldview. The concept of God and the practice of religious belief doesn’t affect them at all.
Bishop Robert E. Barron — an auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles and the founder of the Word on Fire Apostolate, who is one of the church’s greatest evangelists today — was scheduled to lead a discussion about nones for the bishops.
Bishop Barron is very much in touch with today’s modern reality. He has given talks to employees of Google, and he has an outreach on YouTube, Twitter and Facebook. His talk at the USCCB meeting likely prompted an interesting and lively discussion.
The topic of nones should be relevant to all Catholics, not just the bishops. How many nones do we know? Are they in our families? Are some nones our neighbors and co-workers? What do you think the best way is to present the Good News of Jesus Christ and his Body, the church, to nones, who are our brothers and sisters?
How can our evangelization efforts take root and be more than just haranguing people who don’t reject the church because of a negative image or because of scandal, but because they find God and the things of God to be irrelevant and without meaning? Please write in and let us know.
Perhaps the best way for the Revelation who is Jesus Christ to be made credible in the world today is through a Catholic Christian life that we should all live. Pray that all will know that we are indeed Christians by our love.