|“How do we fix this?” I think that’s a very pertinent question.
I don’t claim to have answers, but I do feel that a key reason for this is the lack of foundation work. We must ask ourselves why it is that parents and also teachers in Catholic schools, the very people who are responsible for the souls of the next generation of Catholics in New Zealand (and therefore of New Zealanders) are not practicing the faith themselves.
We have collectively failed to adequately catechize our own people, and our own selves. We have neglected to build a real and personal faith consisting of a true relationship with Christ. We have been building our house on sand and the storm is approaching.
Our post-modern culture (which you mention) has effectively evangelized the Church by proclaiming the gospel of subjectivism, skepticism and indifferentism – that is, the “who knows? Who cares? Who’s ever right anyway?” attitude. That is why “tolerance”, so-called (because it isn’t; it’s acceptance), is the most popular “virtue” today, and which is why many Catholics subscribe to it. That is why the word “sin” has no meaning, and is simply rebutted with a “says who?”.
How can there be any “authority” when any viewpoint is equally valid as any other? We have to start by being able to believe, ourselves, that we truly are proclaiming the truth, and not simply one truth among many.
We must build our house on the rock, and be like the man who “dug deep, and laid the foundation upon rock; and when a flood arose, the stream broke against that house, and could not shake it, because it had been well built.” (Luke 6:48). And that Rock is Christ Jesus, who reveals himself to be the only truth: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by me” (John 14:6). It is this Jesus that speaks to us through the authority of Peter: “And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18), and we must be united in Christ and therefore Peter (the Pope), because “if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand” (Mark 3:25).
What we need is an ongoing personal and communal conversion and discipleship, so that we are Christocentrically grounded in our Catholic faith through study and realization of what the Church teaches, instructs, and disciplines; and with the understanding of why she does what she does with the authority that she has. Only then, can the Church speak collectively with an “authoritative voice”.