The international outreach of the Pope and the Vatican has probably never been greater than the present. We have never had a missionary pope like Pope John Paul II. We have more dioceses and parishes than at any time in the 2,000-year history of the Church. Geographically, the Church has never been as "catholic" (universal) as today. Nevertheless, the Church is struggling, especially in Western Europe, Australia, and America.
One main reason for the breakdown of the Church in some parts of the world is that the basic unit of the Church is no longer functional. The universal Church is made up of dioceses, dioceses are comprised of parishes, but what makes up the parishes? In some parts of the world, parishes are made up of individuals and nuclear families. Historically, these are not the basic units of a parish. A parish is intended to be a community of small communities, a family of extended families (see Church in America, Pope John Paul II, 41).
This is what we celebrate in today's feast. The Basilica of John Lateran was one of the first parish churches. It was built so that several communities could come together. On this feast day, let's pray for the Church to be renewed by the Spirit, raising up small communities to be the basic units of the parish.