Simon Dennerly, one of our bloggers from Australia, and a member of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of the Southern Cross, sent me a link to this article entitled: Church of Canada may disappear by 2040 says new report.
John Longhurst of the Religion News Service writes:
A “wake-up call.”
That’s what Archbishop Linda Nicholls, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, called a new report showing there may be no members left in the mainline Canadian denomination in 20 years.
The report, which was commissioned by the church, was delivered to the Council of General Synod meeting November 7-9 in Mississauga, Ontario.
“Projections from our data indicate that there will be no members, attenders or givers in the Anglican Church of Canada by approximately 2040,” said the Rev. Neil Elliot, an Anglican priest in Trail, British Columbia, who authored the report.
Lest anyone smugly assume the Catholic Church in Canada and elsewhere in the west is immune to similar trends, think again. Dioceses are closing parishes, consolidating, and in some cases facing bankruptcy.
The more the various churches become more and more like the world in an effort to engage it, the more going to church becomes like going to a social club or attending a concert, if the parish has a good music endowment. If the “entertainment” and fellowship isn’t fantastic, then more and more people will sleep in on Sundays.
And those churches that focus on worshipping God and ever deeper conversion to Jesus Christ—will be increasingly marginalized and hated. This, too, might discourage the effectiveness of evangelistic tools that focus on telling us how wonderful, healing and peace-filled it is to turn one’s life over to Jesus. I’m reminded of what a Fr. Joseph Ratzinger told a German radio program in 1969 about the future of the church. [The whole article at Aleteia I am quoting here is well-worth reading for greater context].
It means that the big talk of those who prophesy a Church without God and without faith is all empty chatter. We have no need of a Church that celebrates the cult of action in political prayers. It is utterly superfluous. Therefore, it will destroy itself. What will remain is the Church of Jesus Christ, the Church that believes in the God who has become man and promises us life beyond death. The kind of priest who is no more than a social worker can be replaced by the psychotherapist and other specialists; but the priest who is no specialist, who does not stand on the [sidelines], watching the game, giving official advice, but in the name of God places himself at the disposal of man, who is beside them in their sorrows, in their joys, in their hope and in their fear, such a priest will certainly be needed in the future.
“Let us go a step farther. From the crisis of today the Church of tomorrow will emerge — a Church that has lost much. She will become small and will have to start afresh more or less from the beginning. She will no longer be able to inhabit many of the edifices she built in prosperity. As the number of her adherents diminishes, so it will lose many of her social privileges. In contrast to an earlier age, it will be seen much more as a voluntary society, entered only by free decision. As a small society, it will make much bigger demands on the initiative of her individual members. Undoubtedly it will discover new forms of ministry and will ordain to the priesthood approved Christians who pursue some profession. In many smaller congregations or in self-contained social groups, pastoral care will normally be provided in this fashion. Along-side this, the full-time ministry of the priesthood will be indispensable as formerly. But in all of the changes at which one might guess, the Church will find her essence afresh and with full conviction in that which was always at her center: faith in the triune God, in Jesus Christ, the Son of God made man, in the presence of the Spirit until the end of the world. In faith and prayer she will again recognize the sacraments as the worship of God and not as a subject for liturgical scholarship.
Doesn’t that make your heart burn within you?
At the Anglican Tradition in the Catholic Church conference Nov. 15-16 in Toronto, Bishop Steven Lopes of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter spoke of the fragility of many of our communities and likened their circumstances to those of the Israelites in the wilderness after having left the fleshpots of Egypt. Survival, growth and the mission of evangelizing depend on our learning the lessons of the wilderness, and keeping our focus on God, he reminded us. He also had an interesting thing to say about our patrimony—that it is the Church that determines what of our patrimony will be handed on.
Fr. Derek Cross, a Toronto Oratorian, gave a meaty talk on St. John Henry Newman’s understanding of worship that so beautifully prepared us for Evensong and Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament that afternoon. I look forward to being able to read and re-read it in our journal.
We have so much to be grateful and thankful for as we mark the 10th Anniversary of Anglicanorum coetibus.