Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Are the Roman Catholics going to split?

We know that politically, the Catholic hierarchy is leaning much closer to the evangelical conservatives. Ed Kilgore notes that at the same time, in many respects, mainline protestant practice is becoming closer to Catholic practice.

 I don't need to remind you of the disconnect between Catholic laity and their bishops, over birth control, over gay rights, and in their response to (and disgust about) child abuse. So in many ways, the ROman Catholic laity are closer to the mainline protestants (like you Episcopalians) while the Bishops are fighting the culture wars in alliance with Focus on the Family.

 Moreover, while the institutions and leadership of the RC church go on trial for covering up child abuse, retracts its apologies, then seek to discipline  the American nuns, but reinstates HOlocaust deniers, and also disciplines any theologians who disagree about women's ordination, the laity is leaving.

  1 in 3 cradle Catholics will leave, and increasingly those who stay are disengaged from the Church. For every new Catholic who joins, three will leave.

 So, as pointed out at the Lead, the interesting split in American Christianity may be already be occurring within the Roman Catholic church.

Still I think that the biggest force holding the American Catholics together is the strong sense of Catholic identity, the in-jokes of cultural commonality.  For example:
Q:  What's black and white and black and white and black and white?
A:  A nun rolling down a hill.  
I grew up Roman Catholic, I was educated in Catholic schools, and that is the sort of cultural joke of my childhood.  Catholics get it-- like jokes about the white smoke.    Of course, that Catholic identity wasn't enough to keep me in the Church, but it did prove a real barrier for BP to leave.  And I think it's a big barrier to our many RC friends, who have that sense of belonging and are able to overlook the more egregious attacks because they aren't affected personally.  So they go on ignoring strictures against birth control, and don't actively oppose marriage equality, and since their parish didn't have any child abuse scandals they ignore that too, and so maintain their cultural identity.

Still, while their kids and grandchildren will probably identify as cultural Catholic, they probably won't go to church, and will struggle to find that same sense of community, of purpose, and of meaning.


PseudoPiskie said...

It will be interesting to see how parish attendance holds up if and when the individual priests decide to preach the Vatican line. I've heard that the younger priests are more conservative. They haven't faced enough reality yet. I suspect many will vote with their checkbooks yet continue attending mass. Some of my friends are in that category. They won't leave but they don't pay or otherwise get involved either.

dr.primrose said...

Romney's dumped his foreign policy spokesman because he's gay -- 'Hyperpartisan discussion' ends gay spokesman's stint with Romney. Some excerpts from the story are below. My favorite is the implication that apparently there's gay foreign policy.

"The tenure of an openly gay spokesman for Mitt Romney's campaign lasted less than two weeks.

"On April 19, Romney’s campaign announced it had hired Richard Grenell, 45, as its foreign policy spokesman. On Tuesday, Grenell tendered his resignation, citing a 'hyperpartisan discussion of personal issues that sometimes comes from being on a presidential campaign.'


"Grenell, an unabashed supporter of gay marriage who has a longtime partner, was attacked by evangelical Christian conservatives who, like Romney, oppose gay marriage, and said Romney was compromising himself on the issue by hiring Grenell.

"'The message Gov. Romney appears to be sending to the pro-family community … is "drop dead,"' wrote Bryan Fischer of the American Family Assn., which was designated as a 'hate group' in 2010 by the Southern Poverty Law Center for its anti-gay comments. Tony Perkins of Family Research Council intimated that Grenell would be sympathetic to the foreign policy goals of the Obama administration because he is gay."

JCF said...

I suspect many will vote with their checkbooks yet continue attending mass. Some of my friends are in that category. They won't leave but they don't pay

Will the power-of-the-purse turn into actual, y'know, power?

B16 says that he is happy to have a smaller church. Small bank account? And will the next pope be satisfied w/ that?

dr.primrose said...

Interesting case from the California Court of Appeal today concerning a gay man in a long-term relationship without a will but with an estranged sister lurking in the background.

The gay man asks the partner to prepare leaving half to the partner and half to the sister. The partner notifies the sister, who suggests doing a trust instead. The gay man dies without either happening. The sister essentially leads the partner down the primrose path (hate that phrase!), including opening probate proceedings on her own and getting a court order for the whole estate, worth about $1 million.

The partner sues the sister claiming deceit and "intentional interference with an expected inheritance." The trial court says no. The Court of Appeal reverses, saying there is enough there for the partner to proceed with his lawsuit.

You can read the whole case (Beckwith v. Dahl) here.

It's good to know there's at least some hope for relief in this all too-common situation.

Jim Pratt said...

The "cultural catholic" ethos is what will, to some extent, prevent a wholesale split in the RCC, but even that is going to vary.

Here in Quebec, pur laine Quebecois identify strongly as RC, even though most drifted away from the church a generation ago. I have a few in my parish, married to Anglicans, who have been attending the Anglican church for up to 20 or 25 ideas, who still identify themselves as RC on the census. Even those who come to the Anglican church because they find the RCC oppressive, backward, or unfriendly still consider themselves RC. My one exception, a couple where the wife is Polish-American, who on their first meeting with me asked about formally joining the Anglican Church, and will be received at the bishop's next visit.