A Letter to Our Bishops

churches

Who’s going to save our Church? It’s not our bishops, it’s not our priests and it is not the religious. It is up to you, the people. You have the minds, the eyes and the ears to save the Church. Your mission is to see that the priests act like priests, your bishops act like bishops, and the religious act like religious.   Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen

Dear Bishop __________:

I write to you in a spirit of charity and encouragement with a sincere sense of urgency about the severe crisis of faith Catholics face. I am heartened by my duty, under Canon 212 S 3, to express these concerns not only to you, but to the rest of the faithful, for the good of the Church. I am also emboldened by the example of great lay and religious saints who voiced their opinions and counsel to bishops, cardinals, and even the Pope after they witnessed the visible and invisible spiritual landscape of ignorance and error in the Church as well as signs of hope and possibility. 

I could not remain silent when hundreds of thousands of lost souls no longer attend Mass, are no longer in a state of grace, and no longer believe that the Eucharist is Jesus. The Faith which has been passed down for thousand years on every continent, surviving trials, disasters and persecutions is now being extinguished, with a whimper, due to both external reasons and a failure to teach, sanctify and govern. It is the bishop’s task to teach and guide:

 The teaching office

Bishops, with priests as co-workers, have as their first task “to preach the Gospel of God to all men,” in keeping with the Lord’s command. They are “heralds of faith, who draw new disciples to Christ; they are authentic teachers” of the apostolic faith “endowed with the authority of Christ.” (CCC 888 ).

A Parable

Jesus spoke in parable so He could convey deeper truths in a manner that resonated with both the simple and the wise. 

There was a regional manager of a great multinational institution, who was responsible for all of the institution’s locations within a certain geographical area. He installed and oversaw junior managers at each of the institution’s locations in his area. This great institution was the oldest in the world, not because of its management, but because it alone had the key to happiness, and satisfied the deepest longings of all mankind.

Until very recently, it enjoyed an unparalleled market share of 80% of its patrons visiting one of its locations every week. Yet due to a number of internal problems and external changes, this institution suffered a cataclysmic loss of 75% of its market share, with only about about 20% of the population visiting one of its locations every week. 

The reasons for this death-spiral decline were many, including scandals among its managers, an unwillingness to address these scandals, a failure to punish the offenders and a refusal to be contrite and transparent to its customers.  Another reason for the devastating loss in market shares was a plethora of other options which attracted peoples’ interest and occupied their time. However, the primary reason for this unimaginable fall was the failure of the managers to inform and explain to their customers exactly what an incredible treasure they were offering, why it was necessary, what awe-inspiring benefits came from it, and what calamitous effects result from refusing it.

Even though they possessed the most precious goods and service in history, the regional managers allowed their junior managers to do their own thing; these junior managers rarely taught their consumers, they diluted the message and even changed the formulas, so that in each of its locations the goods and services seemed different, without the basic, strict quality controls and expectations of uniformity of any lowly, fast-food restaurant.

Rather than addressing abuses and teaching the truth about their company’s product, the regional managers tended to busy themselves with matters ancillary or even antithetical their primary responsibility and became involved with divisive societal and political issues. Had the regional managers simply focused on and performed the one job they were given by their boss, getting people to return, not by programs but by unleashing the very source of her power, the institution would not be in this current crisis with many of her regions filing for bankruptcy. 

These regional managers seemed to forget that were installed by and served at the pleasure of their CEO, and it should be him alone who they should seek to please, obey and faithfully serve. For what CEO, who is intimately involved with the institution he founded and compassionately concerned about would deal favorably with reckless regional managers whom he had entrusted with his universal franchise?

Bishops Are Not Managers

Fortunately, you are a bishop; not a regional manager. For what multinational institution would install a philosophy and theology major without any education, training or business experience to run a 20, 30 or 50 million dollar branch? 

You were not put in charge of a diocese because of your business acumen or managerial skills, as neither of these are among the requirements of bishop listed by St. Paul in his letters to Timothy and Titus. For you are leading a divine/human institution, not a corporation, and unlike any mere manager in the secular sphere, you have, by your ordination to your office, been endowed with incomprehensible, supernatural gifts sufficient to teach, sanctify, and govern the hundreds of thousands entrusted to your care, and for whom you likely will be held to account.

There will be accountability when Jesus asks what have you done with the great treasure and responsibility He entrusted to you.  I implore you for your sake and for the sake of all those in your diocese, both the 20% who for the moment remain, and the 80% who have left, to be a bishop, not a manager. Utilize your supernatural gifts and weapons in this spiritual war for souls, and do your divine duty, given to you by Christ Himself through the apostles and their successors, teaching what is the source and summit of our faith (CCC 1322) and source of the Church’s power.

Catechesis and liturgy

“The liturgy is the summit toward which the activity of the Church is directed; it is also the font from which all her power flows.” It is therefore the privileged place for catechizing the People of God. “Catechesis is intrinsically linked with the whole of liturgical and sacramental activity, for it is in the sacraments, especially in the Eucharist, that Christ Jesus works in fullness for the transformation of men.

Liturgical catechesis aims to initiate people into the mystery of Christ ( It is “mystagogy.” ) by proceeding from the visible to the invisible, from the sign to the thing signified, from the “sacraments” to the “mysteries.” Such catechesis is to be presented by local and regional catechisms. This Catechism, which aims to serve the whole Church in all the diversity of her rites and cultures, will present what is fundamental and common to the whole Church in the liturgy as mystery and as celebration (Section One), and then the seven sacraments and the sacramentals.” (CCC 1074- 1075).

Eucharistic Renewal

Any renewal based upon prepackaged, programs, human strategies, or the wisdom of men will fail, as any authentic and effective renewal of the Church will be Eucharistic.

How are you renewing the faith in your diocese, specifically, in addressing the greatest problems we face – Mass attendance and belief in the Real Presence? How are you going out to get those lost sheep to return to Mass and the Eucharist, which are, respectively, the font of the Church’s power, and the source and summit of our Faith?

Leadership is not a title given, it is earned, by being a model of prayer, virtue, and holiness, by reflecting the self-sacrificial, servant leadership of Jesus and aligning one’s will to the will of God which is attractive, and which alone can provide the miraculous results we need. As bishop you are not to be a manager, but our spiritual father, a vocation which is in short supply among the episcopacy and presbyterate as well as the laity.

This is an incredible opportunity. People are starving for fatherhood and spiritual leadership which by your office you could and should provide, providing encouragement and requiring accountability. Nobody’s looking for a mere manager. Please be that leader we all need by utilizing the spiritual weapons you received at your ordination –  take courage and use them – for all our sake – before it’s too late. 

 The bishop is “the steward of the grace of the supreme priesthood,” especially in the Eucharist which he offers personally or whose offering he assures through the priests, his co-workers. The Eucharist is the center of the life of the particular Church. The bishop and priests sanctify the Church by their prayer and work, by their ministry of the word and of the sacraments. They sanctify her by their example, “not as domineering over those in your charge but being examples to the flock.” Thus, “together with the flock entrusted to them, they may attain to eternal life” (CCC 893).

John Vrdolayk is a Catholic father of five, a graduate of University of Notre Dame and University of Chicago Law School  who has worked for his parish (Founder/head of Evangelization Committee), and diocese (Diocese of Joliet Catholic School Task Force).  He has recently written the cover story, Mass Exodus, for his diocesan magazine (Christ Is Our Hope) reprinted in Homiletic and Pastoral Review here: https://www.hprweb.com/2019/10/mass-exodus/

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8 thoughts on “A Letter to Our Bishops”

  1. Since March of 2013 the center of the madness has been the man who slaps the hand of the faithful….and his Marxist lieutenants who want us to believe the Chinese Communist Party is the world’s best example of Catholic teaching.
    The mask has slipped once too often. No one is fooled any longer.
    Bet on it.

  2. Deacon Ed Peitler

    For those parishes that operate a Catholic school (and for all dioceses that operate Catholic High Schools) I would add the following:
    #1. Send a letter to all families along the lines stated above detailing the importance of education in the faith and attendance at required worship of God.
    #2. Have a meeting with all parents of current students. If at least one parent or legal guardian does not show up, then the child cannot be enrolled for the new school year.
    #3. Have parent(s) sign a statement acknowledging their responsibility to participate in the education of their child in the faith and to model the practice of the faith. This means to not only promise that the child(ren) attend Sunday Mass but that at least one parent must do so as well. If parents, whether they believe the faith or not, cannot commit to supporting their child in the faith one hour per week, why in heaven’s name would they want to send their child to a Catholic school?
    #4. If non-Catholic parents send their non-Catholic children to a Catholic school, they too should be held to the same standards of Mass attendance by student and parents. No one can force them to believe but they can be expected to show up for Mass. Why? Because making light of the Catholic faith or dismissing it outright affects the faith formation of other students who are Catholic who will wonder why they too cannot stay home on Sunday mornings. If non Catholic parents don’t agree, then they should send their child to a public school.

  3. Mags

    What are the explanations? The laity has an obligation to call our wrongdoing when we see it, regardless of where it might be.

    Thank you

  4. Why worry?
    We’ve all heard (read) popes, cardinal, bishops. priests, deacons say;
    1. “No one goes to hell – I don’t know a single person why I can say is in hell”
    2. “All religions contain truth”
    3. “You can be saved without being Catholic”
    4. “If you faithfully follow your religion you can be saved.”
    5. “God is all merciful, she could never send anyone to hell.”

    So, why worry? Be Happy! All the Saints who have seen souls burning in hell were imagining things as was Jesus when telling the parable about Lazarus and the rich man among other stories and other quotes . And besides, Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, Mohammad to name a few, will be there to greet us at the narrow pearly gate.

  5. Save Catholic Souls
    By Deacon John Lorenzo
    Solving the problem of declining Sunday Mass attendance and saving souls
    1. Declining Sunday Mass attendance must be seriously addressed by the Archdiocese of Miami now, because we are losing the battle of saving Catholic souls. I could remember a suggestion made by the Archdiocese Synod five years ago…. (Increase Sunday Mass attendance 10%) …. that pessimistic suggestion not only did not occur, Mass attendance declined along with the growing number of “nones”

    2. From the Florida Catholic 2014……. When Colella speaks about an ailing Church, he ls not referring to the Church in Miami in particular, but to the Catholic Church in the U.S. in general: a Church that is struggling to remain relevant in a nation saturated by secularism and populated by increasing numbers of spiritual ‘nones.’
    He remembers speaking at a youth rally in England a few years ago and going to Mass the next morning. The church was “empty and dying” he said. “The U.S. runs the risk of going the way of Europe. I, for one, don’t want to go there.”
    3. In Archbishop Wenski’s keynote address at the Youth Ministry Summit that took place on Saturday, March 3, 2018 at Monsignor Edward Pace High School he said:
    We must all start again from Christ, recognizing that being Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction.
    In other words, why do young people leave the Church? Why does anyone leave the Church? The answer is simple: They have not encountered Christ and His love.

    4. With these words of wisdom from Archbishop Wenski, we can now attempt to solve the problem of declining Sunday Mass attendance and the return of Catholic lost sheep to the Church and the Eucharist.

    5. It is important to keep in mind that no one has been able to formulate solutions to stop the decline of Sunday Mass attendance or being able to return the lost sheep to Jesus Christ, His Church and the Eucharist. Saint John Paul II in his plan of re-evangelization for the Church said, “We must come up with new ways of doing things because the old ways are not working.” Be assured that my suggestions to solve these stated problems will be spiritual, parish centered, measurable, realistic, with very little expense and providential. I’m confident these ideas will be successful because they were heavenly inspired.

    6. When contemplating how to solve the problem of declining Sunday Mass attendance we must concentrate our thinking on – why does any Catholic leave the Church or deny their Catholic faith? Catholics have not been properly faith formulated during their childhood to develop a relationship with Jesus Christ and His Church. The solution to this premise will stop the decline of Sunday Mass attendance, the exodus from the Church and help many souls from denying Christ.

    7. For children to experience an encounter with Christ it must begin from the day they are baptized by parents who understand their responsibility in raising their children especially in their spiritual lives. Children must be taught to love God and to love their neighbor. Catholic children especially must be taught who Jesus Christ is. This is so very important as they are growing up. Parents must be catechized about the need for their children to have a relationship with Jesus Christ. This teaching should begin when parents come to the Church to have their babies baptized. This parental instruction is a Church responsibility to help parents understand the importance of raising their children with the main purpose of getting from this life to our next life in Heaven with God. To ensure that the inheritance given to their children, by God at baptism, must never be lost.

    8. When Catholic children enter grammar school, be it Catholic or Public, their spiritual guidance will also include the Church guidelines and the Catholic School or Religious Education programs. Keeping in mind the need for the children to experience an encounter with Christ, it is imperative that they are properly faith formulated in being taught God’s Commandments, His Sacraments, the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist, the Precepts of the Church, the importance of Mary, the Mother of God and how does a Catholic child or adult get from this earthly life to eternal life in Heaven with God when they die?

    9. Because God loves us so greatly, He does not make it difficult for us to get to Heaven. This important truth must be taught to Catholic children with great emphasis to Jesus Christ. This truth also makes it possible to believe that – The Catholic path to Heaven and eternal life is attending Sunday Mass every week and receiving the Eucharist.

    10. When contemplating how to solve the problem of declining Sunday Mass attendance and saving souls, it is important that the solution not compromise God’s Commandments and the Precepts of the Catholic Church. Because, by allowing this to happen and/or without proclaiming false interpretation or misunderstanding, could be thought of as condoning what is being done wrongfully. For instance, many Catholics disobey God’s Commandment, to keep holy the Sabbath day but believe it is not a grievous sin that must be confessed to a priest when done intentionally without good cause. It is also wrong to believe that God’s mercy alone will forgive this sin, not understanding that forgiveness requires repentance. If the true meaning and consequences of not attending Sunday Mass is regularly explained to the laity more thoroughly, it will help Sunday Mass attendance and save souls.

    11. The solution to stop the decline of Sunday Mass attendance and at the same time stopping the exodus from the Church, will require a change in the attitude of the Church’s authority concerning student Sunday Mass attendance. The solution also necessitates convincing parents the absolute need for their children to attend Sunday Mass every week and receive the Eucharist as often as possible. A parent’s talk titled “Your Children’s Spiritual Life” is available to help Directors of Religious Education in convincing parents this need. See Item 18 for more information.

    12. For Catholics to develop a good relationship with Jesus Christ and His Church they must be properly faith formulated during their entire childhood. This premise holds the solution to the long-time problem of declining Sunday Mass attendance, Catholics leaving the Church and many more denying their Catholic faith.

    13. Proper faith formulation of children is unique in that the responsibility is shared between the Church and parents. This relationship of sharing this responsibility is where a serious conflict is occurring that must be resolved for the benefit of the children. The conflict begins with the Church telling the parents that their children must attend Sunday Mass every week. Since this necessary requirement is not made mandatory, many parents choose not to cooperate with this request causing a conflict of interest. This allowable parent choice of not having their children attend Sunday Mass every week must be resolved for the benefit of the children.

    14. The requirement for Catholic children to attend Sunday Mass every week is necessary and critical in their faith formation. To deny children this experience, as they are developing their spiritual lives, will make it difficult for them to develop a relationship with Jesus Christ and His Church. This truth must be conveyed to all Catholic parents for the benefit of their children’s lives, both human and spiritual.

    15. Convincing parents of their responsibility of having their school children attend Sunday Mass every week will not only resolve a conflict between them and the Church, it will also restart a new generation of young Catholics that will hopefully never leave Jesus Christ and His Church. Resulting in stopping the decline of Sunday Mass attendance.

    16. Parents generally love their children unconditionally as God loves us. Because of that great love, parents will also give their life for their children if it was possible. Knowing this human parental characteristic, it tells us that a Catholic parent will do anything for their children if they truly believe it would be beneficial in their spiritual life.

    17. Believing the way parents love their children and my experience with speaking to them about their spiritual lives when they come to have their babies baptized, I felt a spark of hope of being able to convince parents of their responsibility to teach their children about Jesus Christ, attend Sunday Mass every week and receive the Eucharist.

    18. Inspired by God, I prepared a parent’s talk titled “Your Children’s Spiritual Life” and presented it to the parents of 299 public school students being prepared in Catholic Faith Formation at St. Mark Catholic Church where I am a Deacon. The intent of the talk was to convince these parents the importance of having their children attend Sunday Mass every week. The 299 students represented less than half of the enrollment. It should also be noted that very few public-school students in this religious education program attend Sunday Mass on a regular basis.
    Before the presentation the parents were given a Promise card with their child’s name. At the end of the 45 minute talk, the parents were asked this question: If you believe the spiritual need for your children to be close to God and you intend to take your children to Sunday Mass every week, place your child’s Promise card in the basket being sent around. If you do not intend to take your children to Sunday Mass every week, I ask you to keep your child’s Promise card and hopefully the day will come when you will change your mind and return the card to your child’s teacher.

    The parent’s response to the presentation was grateful. Out of 299 students – the parents of 261 students (87.3%) said Yes to taking their children to Sunday Mass every week. This very positive response proved that the parents would be willing to cooperate with the Church’s teaching because they saw the spiritual value of taking their children to Sunday Mass every week. A new convincing parent’s talk, “Your Children’s Spiritual Life”, inspired by God, became the spark of hope to end a longstanding conflict between the Church and the parents of the school children. This new relationship will now allow all Catholic school children to experience the Holy sacrifice of the Mass and receive the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, every Sunday. This missing but necessary faith formation requirement, which many school children have been denied for many years, will not only save souls but also help stop declining Sunday Mass attendance and those leaving the Church.

    The Catholic Church must strive to have all school age children (100%) attend Sunday Mass every week. This absolute is very possible because parents will do whatever they believe is an absolute need for their children. Without this spiritual exposure, for our children, nothing of significance will change what is happening in the Catholic Church today. This I guarantee.

    When the parents came into this meeting, they were given a card with their child’s name on the back. It’s a Promise card to help the children become Disciples of Jesus Christ by teaching them that “With God, nothing is impossible”. It’s a three-part promise with the intention of having all the lost sheep in a parish to return to Christ and the Eucharist.
    Promise #3 – Pray at least 10 Hail Mary’s every day.
    Promise #2 – Go before the Blessed Sacrament as often as possible to pray.
    Promise #1 – Offer your Sunday Mass and Eucharist to God our Father.
    Without new parental understanding of the need for their children to be close to God, the future generation of adults will be as it is today.
    19. When contemplating how to solve the problem of the lost sheep, those who have left the Catholic Church and no longer attend Sunday Mass, I believe that for man it is impossible. I believe the solution must be providential because these lost sheep have denied Christ. Yet, I believe they still can be saved by persuading Heaven to inspire these souls to return to Christ and His Church.

    20. How does a Parish persuade Heaven to inspire its lost sheep to return to Jesus Christ and the Eucharist? It sounds impossible, but we all know with God, nothing is impossible. Every Parish has a resource that is always available to help with spiritual matters. That resource is and belongs to the men, women and children who attend Sunday Mass every week and receive the Eucharist. As a unified group they will be asked to become a Disciple and Evangelizer of Jesus Christ with the intent to inspire their brothers and sisters, who do not attend Sunday Mass every week, to return to Jesus Christ and the Eucharist.

    They will be asked to make a three-part Promise directed to Heaven as follows:
    Promise #1 – Offer your Sunday Mass and Eucharist to God our Father.
    Promise #2 – Go before the Blessed Sacrament as often as possible to pray.
    Promise #3 – Pray at least 10 Hail Mary’s every day.

    This request will be made for a planned weekend called, Save Catholic Souls. It will be presented at all Masses with a homily describing declining Sunday Mass attendance. Even though this group of parishioners is small compared to the total number of parishioners in the Parish, they are the loyal faithful who are closest to God. Each parishioner will receive a Promise card to sign and hold to remind them of their obligation.

    21. For everyone to know about Save Catholic Souls, a letter entitled, A Letter of Importance to All Parishioners will be sent to all registered parishioners, explaining what this holy project is about.

    Weekly Sunday Mass attendance must be taken to measure the results and to tell us if Heaven is helping our parish and its lost sheep.

    22. After a specified time, an organized parish door to door survey will be made by the parish Disciples and Evangelizers of Jesus Christ. The purpose is to show a personal interest in meeting the parishioners face to face and inviting them to return to the Church for Sunday Mass and the Eucharist.

    23. NOTE: A 50-minute parent’s talk titled “Your Children’s Spiritual Life” is available to help Directors of Religious Education in convincing parents to take their children to Sunday Mass every week.

  6. Josephine Harkay

    The Church is a hierarchy with decision making coming from the Vatican, the Pope. When the Pope allows the image of a pagan earth goddess into St. Peter’s, when he allows a Jesuit priest to lobby for the LGBTQ community, when he discourages active evangelization, when he belittles the honorable name of Mary, Co-Redemptrix, when he calls the faithful church-going Catholics rigid, then we cannot expect our bishops to enkindle a live, authentic, Catholic faith in fallen away Catholics.

    1. Sounds as though you are reading too much anti Pope Francis propaganda. All of the criticisms you mention have reasonable and acceptable explanations to those of an open mind and heart. The Pope is trying to introduce much needed reform and this sort of criticism doesn’t help.

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