ck in April, David Bonagura wrote a column here (“Will Catholics Return to Mass”) in which he noted that Catholics are used to facing lousy odds: “Post-COVID-19 Catholicism does not look promising for religious practice, but when does the state of the world ever look good for the Church? Still, as has happened again and again in history, crises in the world have inspired renewals in the Church.”
From his mouth to God’s ear.
I have no idea how many adult catechumens entered the Church in 2020. The pandemic made in-person catechesis difficult, and I also don’t know how many dioceses moved their RCIA classes online. In both 2018 and 2019, somewhere in the neighborhood of 30,000 Americans “crossed the Tiber,” but the pandemic will surely have cut substantially into that number over the last twelve months. And the coronavirus will just as certainly depress the numbers of those willing to become Catholic for who-knows-how-many more months to come. And these may be losses we’ll never recover.
If true renewal does happen and the Body of Christ grows, it can only come from the kind of catechesis that forthrightly presents Church history and dogma in a way that is both authoritative and appealing.
I suppose the Church could begin advertising: Come to the Church that’s been faithfully following Jesus since 33 A.D. You’ll be welcomed with open arms. [Imagine an accompanying photo of Vatican Square’s colonnade.]