Facebook post of Scottish Laity Network

Many people talk about resuming what was done before the pandemic. Liturgies, schedules, programs, structures — all should come back on stage to do once more the song and dance routines that had been driving audiences away.

After this is all over, those who return to our parishes will know that their faith can survive without the parish, even though membership in a community of believers is important to that faith.

However, if their return brings them back to a system and style that is merely a repeat of the past and is not prepared to celebrate, foster, and share that new level of faith, those same people may decide to continue living their faith without a parish.

They will know their faith can be better lived without clerical buffoons convinced that the sacrament of orders absolves them from being professionals who prepare their homilies, celebrate sacraments with joyful hope, keep up to date in developments in Scripture scholarship, theology and pastoral practice, recognize the maturity of their fellow believers, and foster programs of spiritual and intellectual growth in the community (and themselves).

My totally unscientific projection is that in the months after the pandemic subsides enough to allow gathering once again, on average, communities will be some 40 percent smaller than they were before the virus gave parishioners the challenge and opportunity to realize they can perhaps better live their faith without the distractions, distortions, and obstacles that so much of the institutions and management of the Church put in their way.

Those Christians will seek each other out and find their own ways to be communities of believers. Some of them will likely be presbyters.

That will be the price for resuming instead of renewing. Sad to say, resumption rather than renewal seems to be the hope of too many whose role should be to foster movement to a new future.

Bill Grimm is a Catholic priest and Maryknoll missioner who lives in Japan.