Why I walked out – PART II

by Russell Pollitt SJ

In the beginning of June, I wrote a piece describing why I walked out of Church one Sunday because the preaching was so bad (read it HERE). After the column was published we received many comments from readers. It was interesting to note that the overwhelming majority were sympathetic to the sentiments expressed. Few were critical. These are some of your responses:

“I am a Deacon in training and I hope to be able to motivate and encourage one day and not put people to sleep. Thanks for the encouragement!”

“So very true yet so sad when those preaching the word are unable to penetrate the heart of those that hunger for it.”

“Are there not others ways of addressing this than walking out? Did you go and talk to your brother afterwards – fraternal correction?”

“This is a bad-sad tale. I think questions that must arise include ‘How/where were such priests trained?’”

“So what do you suggest we do? You should address this at your own level. There is no need to hang your dirty linen while we suffer.”

“I thank you for your honesty, bitter truth but indeed very helpful and needed. On my side I sometimes feel guilty of wasting God’s time, the congregation’s and my own time by not preparing properly.”

“So eloquently put.  But how do we begin to fix this?”

“Hear! Hear! It’s the Sunday Obligation that keeps most there (in body!) and younger people are likely to stop attending. During the week, mercifully, the homily is normally so short, it’s soon over. I can’t really hear the man anyway, and I know it’s no loss!”

“My sister said that she believed in miracles, because Catholics kept going back! I have a car, so I only go where I know I will be suitably challenged, inspired…”

“I could not agree with your article more strongly!”

“Thanks for your criticism of the quality of sermons we are getting on Sunday. I thought I was the only one going to the Sunday mass and coming back with my spiritual battery still flat. But now I know what to do! It is not surprising that about 80% of our youth are no longer Catholics but now found in the so-called Charismatic churches. Will the SACBC do something about this lest our preachers find themselves preaching to benches on Sundays?”

“I wholeheartedly agree with the comments and am wondering what the Archdiocese is doing to address this problem. Is this maybe not the reason why the churches are getting emptier and emptier on a Sunday?”

“I am disturbed that you, as a priest, do not understand that Sunday Mass is about the Sacrament. Go back to the seminary and learn about the Mass! The preaching makes no difference.”

“I share the same sentiment and I am one of those people who feels like I must just walk out.”

“Some parishioners do not want to leave; they say, ‘Why should I let that guy push me out of MY parish? He’ll be gone in X years and we will still belong here.’ It is extremely difficult for laity to push back against clergy abuse of any kind. I know as I have tried.”

I leave you to make up your mind…


Fr Russell Pollitt SJ

Fr Russell Pollitt SJ is the Director of the Jesuit Institute and is interested in the impact that communications technology has on society and spirituality. He regularly comments on South African Politics and various issues in the Catholic Church.

director@jesuitinstitute.org.za @rpollittsj
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