Catholics should dream every now and then about the kind of faith community we want to be. If we care about our faith and know how important it is to be church, we have an obligation to do so.
The achievements and failures of our past offer important lessons. The present comes with its vicissitudes and is here already. The future, however, is always pregnant with possibility. We are the architects of that future.
The Catholic community in the United States remains besieged by a relentless and unending mesh of scandals, changes, defections, puzzling decisions by some of our leaders, divisions and disillusionments. It is difficult not to start one’s day asking, “Now what?”
Will it ever stop? Probably not. Should I care? Yes. It is my church. Will I give up? No. St. Paul’s words are always encouraging: “Where sin increased, grace overflowed all the more” (Rom. 5:20). There is hope.
I want to dream about church renewal as a Hispanic Catholic sojourner. By “church” here, I mean all the baptized disciples of Jesus Christ within our Catholic tradition. We are all in this together.
I dream of a church that intentionally reads the Gospels — again — with a renewed sense of awe and humility. We need designated national and diocesan weeks every year dedicated to reading the Gospels.
I want to see our pastoral leaders sitting together with their communities, in public, reading and discussing the Gospels, listening to the insights of immigrants, factory workers, farmers, professionals and others.
I want to see the church reading the Gospels in English, Spanish, Portuguese, Creole, Chinese and every other language in which Catholics in this country celebrate our faith. This is who we are.
I dream of a church that celebrates its cultural diversity as a gift to be embraced. Our church cannot afford to ignore the culturally diverse voices that are giving it new life.
Serving the immigrant, especially our own Catholic immigrant sisters and brothers, regardless of their status, should never be optional. Serving communities that struggle because of poverty or racism or classism or any other form of prejudice should be our mark.
I dream of a church seriously committed to reaching out and serving young people, especially young Hispanics who constitute the majority of Catholics younger than 20.
Our outreach to young Catholics should be done with determination and prophetic voice. We cannot remain passive as young Catholics walk away from our faith communities and from the tradition altogether. We cannot ignore that most young Hispanic Catholics receive low-quality education; most live in poverty; many stopped seeing our churches as safe places.
I dream of a church that recognizes that it has made mistakes, asks for forgiveness and shows clear signs of pastoral conversion. If we speak of the importance of reconciliation, we must model it.
Apart from acknowledging the mistakes that beleaguer us as Catholics in the U.S., we also have an ecclesial obligation to acknowledge that we have repeatedly failed our Catholic sisters and brothers from underrepresented communities. Silence and lack of response before any form of marginalization make us complicit in their suffering.
I dream of a church that is willing to invest without fear in those parts of the country where Catholicism is growing, thanks in particular to the Hispanic presence.
I want to see pioneers building Catholic parishes, schools and universities in the South and the West, where most Catholics live today.
Renewal is possible. A vibrant future is possible for U.S. Catholicism as long as we dare to dream trusting that God journeys with us. What is your dream?
Ospino is professor of theology and religious education at Boston College.
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