Catholic Diocese of Wilmington

"HOW TO REACH INACTIVE CATHOLICS"
A PASTORAL STATEMENT BY BISHOP MICHAEL A. SALTARELLI
DIOCESE OF WILMINGTON
JANUARY 27, 2000 EDITION OF ORIGINS

The most numerous body of Christian believers in America today is the Roman Catholic Church -- numbering some 45,000,000 believers. Recent research shows that the second largest body, some 17,000,000, consists of those Catholics who no longer practice their faith. These are our sons and daughters, our spouses, our extended families, our neighbors and friends, the woman or man who works in the desk across from us -- each of them a brother or sister in Christ.

During this year of Jubilee, we have been invited to seek a deeper level of personal conversion in our own lives. At the same time, we recall our obligation to be signs of hope and gentle invitation to our inactive brothers and sisters.

Like many of you, I and my brother Bishops, the Shepherds of the Church in America, have wondered why Catholics become inactive. Recently the U.S. Bishops' Evangelization Committee conducted research to find an answer to this question. I would like to share with you the results of this research, that is, the reasons that have been given. Based on this information I would also like to suggest ways that you and I together might address the situation. My hope is to stimulate your own concern and creativity, and to persuade you to approach your friends who are not practicing their faith. Like St.Peter near the gate of the Temple we might learn to say, "What I do have I give you...Jesus Christ." (Acts 3:6)

Avery Dulles writes: "The Church has become too introverted. If Catholics today are sometimes weak in their faith, this is partly because of their reluctance to share it."
1 Each of us needs to discern with the light and fire of the Holy Spirit how we are to share our faith. Our faith inevitably grows and deepens when we do share it.                                                                

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