When will we learn importance of adult faith formation?

Archbishop Edwin F. O’Brien noted in his July 10 homily (CR, July 14) that a recent study showed that two-thirds of baptized Catholics no longer identify actively with the church and half of them have joined other Christian churches. Were it not for the influx of Latino Catholics, the archbishop said, study authors point out that the state of the Catholic Church in the United States would be “catastrophic.”

A dozen years earlier, in November 1999, the United States Catholic Conference (now the United States Council of Catholic Bishops) issued “A Pastoral Plan for Adult Faith Formation in the United States.” The plan stated that “the Church wisely and repeatedly insists that adult faith formation is ‘essential to who we are and what we do as Church” and must be “situated not at the periphery of the Church’s educational mission but at its center.”

I have no reason to doubt either the near catastrophic state of the church in 2011 or the church’s 1999 sense of priority. So what went wrong? My take is the church failed to make adult faith formation “essential” and at the “center” of its educational mission.

Even commercial airlines recognize that when oxygen masks fall indicating a definite problem with cabin pressure, adults need to strap on their masks first before helping their children. When will we learn?

Catholic Review

Catholic Review

The Catholic Review is the official publication of the Archdiocese of Baltimore.