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Blunt Words From Cardinal Dulles

If we were asked to name someone who is a model of tact, understatement, and restraint, Avery Cardinal Dulles would be the first person to come to mind.

So we were pleasantly taken aback by an article by Cardinal Dulles in First Things (Aug.-Sept.) on the question of reform in the Church. What is authentic reform? It is, says the Cardinal, “to give new and better form to a preexistent reality, while preserving the essentials. Unlike innovation, reform implies organic continuity; it does not add something foreign or extrinsic…. The goal is to make persons or institutions more faithful to an ideal already accepted.” Does the Church in the U.S. need such reform? Dulles answers that the Church needs “far-reaching” reform. Well! Great balls of fire!

So perk up and listen to Dulles’s list of things that need to be reformed (we’ll cite only the key lines):

– “Religious illiteracy has sunk to a new low.”

– “Dissent is rampant….”

– “The call for a new evangelization strongly issued by Paul VI and John Paul II has fallen, it would seem, on deaf ears.”

– “Liturgical laws are often flouted.”

– “Religious practice is falling off. Many fail to attend Mass on Sundays. The sacrament of Penance is neglected by the vast majority of Catholics. There is a serious dearth of vocations….”

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