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Bishop’s use of sports makes for an awkward analogy

The News recently ran an informative piece about the challenges facing Bishop Richard Malone of the Catholic Diocese. Speaking to a gathering of young people, newly confirmed, he said: “One of the problems we face in the church is that an awful lot of good Catholics stopped learning …” His pitch was for their sticking around, unlike many who spiritually and physically leave the church after confirmation.

I have no problem with his taking the time to evangelize – after all, that is what a bishop is supposed to do – but his analogy struck me as rather wrong-headed. He used the metaphor of a sports team to describe the church.

Granted, he was playing to his audience, wanting to grab the high schoolers’ attention. But a sports team? Not good.

Sports teams choose their members. Sports teams are exclusive. Only gifted athletes need apply. Sports teams embrace values rooted in the pockets of their billionaire owners and are nurtured from CPA reports.

The church embraces beliefs that should set us apart from the necrotizing interaction of materialism, consumerism and competition, and the culture of neediness it breeds.

Tell kids about community, and the special role that each person has in shaping a just and inclusive community – even if it’s only the world around them; where there’s safety and opportunity, especially for the marginalized.

Edwin Beck


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