You take your chances when you delve into the murky waters at patheos.com (tagged "Hosting the Conversation on Faith"). There are a myriad of blogs and articles which will challenge and/or enrage just about anyone in their beliefs. Some of the stuff there is pretty outrageous and fringe thinking, but then occasionally you come across the odd post that does make you think further. One such post titled Rome: The Capital of the Family – What Will it Take? makes the following statement:
"I'm left to ponder if families currently feel that we can turn to our Church first and foremost when our families struggle. When we deal with issues…how many of us look to our Church for guidance and solutions?"
It made me think about our NZ context and whether we may have a similar issue here…there are two ways to consider the question:
1. Is our local Church responsive to the real needs of its community of believers?
2. Do active Catholics view their Church as the place to go for support with family issues?
Organisations such as StVdP and Catholic Care undoubtedly do "real" work that makes a difference for many people in serious difficulty and need. However for "Joe Average" in the pews – is the Church responsive to their needs? Is that even the role of the Church? And in a season where priestly pastoral ministry is extremely stretched – who in the Church might assume responsibility for any response?
At times my personal experience has been a struggle to feel a bond or sense of community in our Church. I do sometimes look enviously at friends in other churches where there seems to be a greater emphasis placed on community and relationships. I often remind myself that a genuine community is not a formal organisation, just a group of people committed to being there for one another. And it is that thought which sometimes encourages me to stay for that cup of tea after church, or to talk to that person standing on their own in the foyer after mass.
What are your thoughts – does the Church do enough for families? Should that be a role of the Church at all?