Cardinal Duka of Prague: The Church Preaches Too Much and Rejects Too Many

At the plenary assembly of the Council of European Bishops in Bratislava, Cardinal Dominik Duka said today that the public perception of the Church is marked too much by preaching and pushing people away, and young people do not understand the Church’s language. The cardinal considers it a great problem that the language of the Church has become completely incomprehensible to youth.

“The Church must appear less as admonisher and more as the bearer of programs that are attractive to people,” Duka said. He recalled the times of great Catholic breakthrough movements, such as in the time of Don Bosco. The Church then undertook great efforts for education, against poverty, and against sickness, and through these the Church had great power of attraction.

In order to speak to people today, he said, the Church must convey the fundamental confidence that “God plays in the big leagues” and the devil “only in the minor leagues.” He said, “There are not two teams of each strength. There is already a victor.”

Source: KIPA.


  1. Right on, cardinal; but I would add “…and practises too little of what it preaches”. I think for many people, inside and outside, certainly in my experience, the Church’s BIG contemporary sin that repels them is institutional hypocrisy.

  2. I like the image of “big leagues.” It implies a level of discipline and excellence for disciples who want to play God’s game. Pope Francis recently tweeted a message to young people that has the same sense of a call to something higher: “Dear young people, you have many plans and dreams for the future. But, is Christ at the center of each of your plans and dreams?”

  3. It would be nice to hear this from some Bishops in the U.S. Hopefully they have been listening to their boss at the Vatican.

    1. @Gregg Smith – comment #3:
      I don’t know much about Cardinal Duka, but it seems reasonable to think the Pope’s attitude is letting those who agreed with him before to speak more freely, and perhaps for some others to hop on the bandwagon. Either way, I am sure we will hear from some American Cardinals before too long. In fact, in some media interviews Cardinal Dolan has appeared to be an enthusiastic supporter of the Pope, much more so than I would have predicted, although it’s only generic approval, and not very specific.

    1. @Brian Duffy – comment #6:
      Indeed, but with this revolution I wonder who will become a Jesuit. Will Francis, unlike James II & VII, gain good friends without alienating those used to supporting the Pope?

    2. @Brian Duffy – comment #6:
      I think that is being too harsh on the Dominican brother who is also Archbishop of Prague. Perhaps ‘Carpe diem!’ in the best sense of that expression, would be more appropriate. Or ‘Make hay while the sun shines!’ or, on a lighter note, ‘When the cat’s away, the mice will play.’ But not the Vicar of Bray.

      During the Stalinist régime, I doubt that fr Dominik Jaroslav Duka was promoting atheism!

  4. What do his words mean? Again we are left to conclude that the sinner need not repent. He needs to bring his sinful soul into the church ignore the confessional and proceed up the aisle at Communion time hold out his hands and take the Body of Christ with no feelings of guilt. God helps us if American Cardinals start talking like Kim Kardashian too. Or maybe it’s more like Joel Osteen. “…Jesus died for your sins and you’re saved, so go in peace…” Hallelujah!

    1. @Michael Alexenko – comment #7:
      Hmm. I was interpreting this as meaning that the elder sibling cannot confess the sins of the younger. That the example of John Bosco is still stronger (and more major league) than the pharisee calling out the sinner. That proximity to the Lord is not a bad situation for sinners to find themselves.

      1. @Todd Flowerday – comment #9:
        Hi Todd,
        The reference to St. John Bosco mentions poverty, education and sickness. Nothing about confession. The comments about the Church not understanding our youth is something I’ve heard for as long as I can remember. JPII did a great job of connecting with the young. Is that ancient history? I think what is being understood by others and me (in opposite ways) is something much different than your more abstract yet more traditional description. He says the Church is pushing people away. How is it doing that? Maybe he has legitimate examples of how this is happening, but without illustrations we are left to use our imaginations. What should we be saying to young adults that will attract them? We don’t have the benefit of the full text which might offer some clarification. Following the model of St. John Bosco would be wonderful, if that’s what he means?

  5. @Michael Alexenko – comment #10:

    The church should be saying:
    “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.” Mt 11:28
    Or perhaps Christ will give you rest.

    If we identify people as sinners, rather than as the burdened, we risk becoming like scribes who ” tie up heavy burdens [hard to carry] and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they will not lift a finger to move them.” Mt 23:4

    The particulars depend on what burdens people carry, but there has to be a general sense that “rest” is available to all in Christ.

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