This “John and Mary Catholic” who haunt Bishop Trautman’s conscience are a worrisome pair. They are worrisome because of what they imply about a cleric’s view of the laity. As I have blogged and written before, many times, clerics and those in the church bureaucracy need to get their stories straight. Are we “the most highly educated laity in the history of the church” capable of making our moral decisions all on our own, without substantive Church guidance..or are we idiots who can’t figure out what “dew” is?
Hypothesize that the view of the laity selected is the one which, in the particular context, requires less effort from clerics and bureaucrats. Assume an educated laity, and less effort in needed in instruction and formation. Assume an infantalized laity, and less effort is needed in liturgy. Finally, assume that not getting their story straight, in itself, reduces effort by discouraging questions, compared to the time that would be required to provide actual answers.
You can hardly disprove this hypothesis by noting such an approach would lead to declining participation by lay Catholics. It has been declining for decades. Consistent with the hypotheses, taking no effective action in the face of declining participation protects our clerics and bureaucrats from more effort.