In the Peace Column of the Peace Weekly, we have a summary of a discussion the writer had with some close friends some 10 years ago. He doesn't remember all the discussion but what still remains with him was the worldliness within the church.
Authoritarianism and self-importance of the clergy were an issue that must be remedied but more than that was the secularization of the church. After the Second Vatican Council, the laity had the task of bringing about the kingdom of God in society. This is the particular task of the laity. They are to help spread the fragrance of Christ and help to improve the society in which we live but here, he says, it was just the opposite: society's values entered the church.
Lay people are related to the clergy like those in the workplace are related with their superiors: laity try to please the clergy. Works of service are considered like a government position, and this spreads to all the areas within the community. This evil pushes out the good.
A priest was the person that brought this to the attention of the group. For the writer more than what was said was the reason behind the change in thinking. In the later years of the 1970s and 80s, we had an increase in the numbers entering the church. Many were not able to filter out the behaviors in society that were not proper for a Christian, and these ideas entered the church community. They became the current within the church. What is important, said the priest, is not just to increase the numbers but to form Christians who think like Christ.
Pope Francis has often repeated we are a community of sinners. Consequently, we will have both large and small problems to face. The vast majority of the Christians are immersed in our culture, and the temptations that come from making ourselves the center of everything.
However, we have to be careful for there is much the church can learn from the society in which we live: knowledge gathered from the sciences and the humanities which can greatly help the community of faith. At the same time, we keep out the wrong behavior, and work to change it to Gospel values.
This requires that all the Christians together work to examine and discern what is happening in society. Accept the good and work to change the wrong. However, we have to begin with ourselves. When we see what is not in harmony with the Gospel, we resolutely work to overcome it. When we have the correct order of things in ourselves we will be able to work wisely to correct the problems in society.