Bishop apologizes for aide's remarks on Protestant service
Colorado Springs' Catholic bishop has issued an apology after his assistant angered local Catholics by saying they shouldn't attend services at Protestant churches.
[Bishop's assistant Peter] Howard told The Gazette that Catholics should not attend Protestant worship services even if they also celebrate Catholic Mass, saying such services could 'confuse' some Catholics and that their participation denigrates the Catholic faith. (scare quotes in original)
Sheridan wrote that Howard's comments to The Gazette caused 'a great deal of distress and hurt' among Christians and non-Christians - though he believes the hurt was unintentional.
Okay, okay, good...
Howard's comments were significant because some of the diocese's 130,000-plus Catholics attend both Protestant and Catholic services. New Life Church, Colorado Springs' largest congregation, is said to attract thousands of Catholics every weekend. (more)
The good bishop Sheridan, I think, is doing some public damage control, which is all too necessary as shepherd of the Mecca of American Evangelicalism. But when 'thousands' of your sheep are venturing out of the sheepfold on a weekly basis, it's hard to imagine a little shepherding isn't in order. (I'm very confident that Sheridan, taking into account the death threat he posed to me on these pages last month, is more vigilant in this regard than this piece gives him credit for; in fact, like Amy
, I would love to see the original letter to find out how much of an 'apology' it really is).
Anyone who has worked with Catholics, especially youth, who routinely attend 'Bible' services at evangelical churches knows they are, generally speaking, the most confused of Catholics. I had a young man ask me, in a youth group, why he had to learn about all these saints, statues and devotions, since 'all that mattered is his relationship with God, anyway'. My suspicions were confirmed afterwards, when I found out his parents were reinforcing his CCD with a summer Bible camp at the local Baptist church.
It's true that, for intelligent and well-grounded Catholics, with a solid prayer life and thorough understanding of their own tradition, occasional attendance at non-Catholic services can be very beneficial. Especially if the benefits go both ways: I've known good Catholics who attend Evangelical services mainly as an opportunity to show a good Catholic witness to those who've probably never seen one.
# posted by Jamie : 8:28 AM