An Untrendy Church?

A memo from the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) at Georgetown University offers some stats worth worrying over. The Great Recession appears to have had a significant effect on U.S. fertility, and infant baptisms have tracked that overall decline. Fewer babies have been part of the reason that the number of people entering the church in the United States has dropped below 1 million a year for the last three years. Since 1947 that 1 milllion level has only been breached during another period of economic decline and high unemployment, 1973 to '79.

And now hastening the descent below 1 million has been a still unexplained collapse of non-infant entries, teens and adults, into the church that began in 2001. Just the year before the number of non-infant entries had peaked at 172,581. A CARA researcher noted "something happened" the following year, beginning the decline. That something may not have been the clergy sex abuse crisis since numbers of non-infant entries actually went up briefly during the height of that trauma in 2002 and '04.

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But the decline has been just about constant since then. CARA notes: "Generally, the numbers entering the Catholic Church are nearly sufficient to keep up with the number of Catholics who pass away each year.... However, this may not always be the case if current trends continue."

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Brendan McGrath
6 years 1 month ago
A "Lost" conference sounds like fun, since I'm a big fan of the show "Lost."  :)

Incidentally, if there was a Catholic and Jewish presence at the "Lost" conference, that's also like the show "Lost," of the two main writers, Carlton Cuse is Catholic and Damon Lindelof (I think) is Jewish.
Craig McKee
6 years 1 month ago
to #7: Your reading of these paleo-christian texts turns them into simplistic PROOF TEXTS of the prevalence of the practice of infant baptism. Another interpretation -equally as valid- is that the praxis may have been the exact opposite, thus creating the need for the exhortations of this sort contained in these texts.
6 years 1 month ago
Anne, by what method can you tell me that your opinion on any topic related to Christianity, whether doctrinal or moral, can be reasonably received as "authentic" or "right" and in line with what Jesus originally taught?

In other words, apart from historical Catholicism and the Papacy or Papal magisterium itself, how can you or I or anyone know for sure that what we think or read or see in the Church is the way Jesus would want it?

Is it subjective feelings? Majority voting (and if so, whose majority?) Is it whatever is most congruent with our particular cultural scene or political ghetto? Can you be right that there is no Trinity because that feels OK for you, while I can be right that God is Trinity because that feels right to me?

How can you know the bible is in fact 'the word of God' or a council is in fact the result of the Holy Spirit's influence apart from Papal approval? Take that away, and tell me how you can cling to an authoritative scripture or doctrine or moral code unmoored from history and organic communion across the centuries?

It's the fundamental question for all would-be "smarter than thou dissenters" (who usually are too clever by half). If they can prove the Pope has no authority on X but they do.... against what criteria which is authoritative do they stand? All they do is prove that no one has authority and hence, neither the Bible nor this Jesus myth is worth spit and we're left in a Might = Right world of mere politics and brute force.

Now, most dissenters are too stupid to realize that this is where their dissent logically leads, but it's where it always historically leads in not so many words. Reject Papal authority and you eventually must reject scripture and tradition and ettiquette as well and throw your lot in with whatever passes for "social" norms and power cliques.
Michael Barberi
6 years 1 month ago
Well said Anne:

In order to teach, one must first learn. We cannot be a listening and learning Church if all dialog is closed to debate on the issues that concern most Catholics. If we did this in past times, we would still allow slavery and deny religious liberty. 

We can make use of statistics, if they are used and intepretated correctly. However, the bigger issue concerns the drop in Mass attendance and those Catholics who have moved on to other Christian Church. One cause of this is the fact that the sensus fidelium does not have a voice. The only group with a voice is Rome, those that agree with them, and the CCC that reflect their views.
Anne Chapman
6 years 1 month ago
Juan, I will leave the discussion at this time. I just want to point out that the types of omissions one finds in too many Catholic sources, such as New Advent, are sins of omission, not simple a matter of different perceptions, as is the ''half full, half empty'' analogy. 

And while you say this (and I don't disagree) ''What I insist on, for the sake of justice and truth, is that a person should not mechanically assume that anything the Church teaches is automatically wrong.''

 However, it is also true, and this is what I hope that some day you will understand, is that one cannot assume that what the church teaches is automatically right - and there is much history that even the church itself does not deny (because it can't!) out there that demonstrates that reality.

And that is why I continuously urge you to go beyond - to not assume that simply because Fr. Z or EWTN or New Advent or Catholic Answers or Catholicculture or any of those other sources say something is true, that it actually is true. Very often their views are perception, just as seeing the glass as half full or half empty is perception.

You have a very good brain - that's obvious. My only hope is that you will continue to use it as you have so far. Don't stop exploring, don't stop learning just because you are now a convert to Catholicism. 

As far as dogma goes, I honestly can't give you an answer, because I am still exploring, still learning, still praying and still reflecting. At one time in my life, I believed all of it - believed it literally. But, now I don't.  You used the example of the Resurrection. I don't claim to know the ''truth'' of the bodily resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth - the texts are actually quite ambiguous in many ways. The literal truth may never be known. However, I have reached a point in my personal spiritual journey that it honestly doesn't matter to me - if Jesus's body did not literally rise from the tomb, it does not shake my faith in Jesus, nor in what Jesus taught. The story-telling tradition of that era in history is well known - stories were told to describe truths that are far more important than literal truth (Jesus did this himself, all of the time!).  The story of the resurrection was clearly intended to accomplish certain goals, and to teach certain understandings of the meaning of Jesus's life and death, and of the truths that Jesus taught.  To me, it is of little importance whether or not the story is literally true.

I hope you also take note Michael's comments about the sensus fidelium - that notorious dissenter, John Cardinal Newman, was investigated for years for defining it - but Newman was right, and yet the church has almost totally ignored his wisdom (with the exception of some in the Vatican II church).

I have found some of the information on baptism, but don't have time now to send it to you.  I am falling farther and farther behind in my obligations because I am spending too much time here - although I do both enjoy and benefit from the discussions here.
Harry McKone
6 years 1 month ago
I suspect that this data does not include those of us who have tried to formally leave the church.  I sent a notarized letter to the Archdiocese of Boston officially declaring that I no longer wish to be a member of the Roman Catholic.  Of course I never received a response, and I suspect that I am still counted as member of this corrupt organization.
Juan Lino
6 years 1 month ago
Definitely time for bed - I meant "good to see you commenting..."


Brett, did you read Tom Peter’s post about WYD on his blog: 
 
[Updated] Guess What: World Youth Day Pumped Over $230,000,000 into Spain’s Economy
 
Here’s the link: 
http://www.catholicvote.org/discuss/index.php?p=20140
 
Juan Lino
6 years 1 month ago
I am pressed for time today and so I can only dash off a quick comment now and a longer one on the weekend (presuming, of course, that what we say to each other here has some value other than mental sparring – yes, it’s a snippy remark!)
 
Michael (#33) – that’s for the clarification, it helps.  To ensure that we understand the term in the same way, I will assume that we each embrace Wiki’s definition of Sensus fidelium (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sensus_fidelium) – is that agreeable?
 
I am absolutely intrigued how you seemed to have jumped to the “pelvic issues” (I think that’s either McBrien’s or Curran’s phrase, but no matter who said it, I like it very much).  The question I ask is why? In other words, why have we embraced the “contraceptive mentality” and the logical “plan b” – abortion - if the contraception fails? Did this contribute to the fact that my hetro male peers presume that the women they hook-up with are infertile?  More to follow….
 
David (#34) – I love your questions and want to reflect on them a bit.  Speaking off the top of my head, I don’t want the progressives to leave because some of what they see is good and true and they have been, after all, been chosen by Christ as well.  Plus, I find that their “disobedience” helps me clarify what I believe and why and we all need that!
 
TTYL.
Beth Cioffoletti
6 years 1 month ago
Personally, I like a Church that is Un-Trendy (and thought that was the way it was supposed to be)!

I am one of those people who never left the Church but, at times these days, wonder whether I am in or out.  I have grown away from regular Sunday Mass attendance and parish membership over the years, but I still consider myself a "practicing" Catholic.  The Eucharist is at the center of my spiritual life, but I prefer to attend at sites that are off the beaten track - hospital or university chapels, monasteries, or sometimes at the noon weekday Mass at my local Chancery office.  And I go to confession once or twice a year.

WHere I find the most excitement and growth in the Catholic Church these days is in the Contemplative Prayer groups (part of the International Contemplative Outreach Network).  In these group I find people like me who have become uncomfortable with institutional religion. 

On the last day of his life, in his last talk, Thomas Merton said something like "where do you go when the institutions crumble?"

WIth Centering Prayer, I feel like I am finding the very heart of my Christian (and Catholic) Faith.  I no longer worry about whether or not I'm in or out.  Perhaps this is the Church gone underground.  I just know that I'm in the place where I belong, whether they count me or not.
Juan Lino
6 years 1 month ago
I think the Saint who wrote the "Rules for thinking with the Church" would be so proud to read what Beth wrote in #39! 

Wait a minute, now that I think of it, I think that saint was St. Ignatius Loyola and I think he is the founder of the Jesuits, isn't he?
Jim McCrea
6 years 1 month ago
I don't think infant baptisms should be counted toward the membership stats.  There should be a time (confirmation?) that is essentially a decision point after which those who arrifrm their Catholicism are counted as members.
Jim McCrea
6 years 1 month ago
If true statistics were kept, I suspect that the numbers walking out the back door far exceed the numbers joining.  But, of course, we don't really want to know that, do we?

No priest pastor or bishop would want the statistical failures of institutional Catholicism to retain and motivate the large number of nominal Catholics who keep the pews warm to be known.
Bill Mazzella
6 years 1 month ago
Infant baptism by its very nature makes false Catholics. This is a real creation of the fourth century and Augustine's claim that unbaptized infants went to Hell or did not make heaven. The constant trek of uncommitted and unbelieving parents who present their children for baptism is a constant scandal. This makes for lapsed Catholics who never really committed to the faith and is the reason the numbers do not make sense.
Juan Lino
6 years 1 month ago
Isn't it odd that the Christians who lived before St. Augustine were actually saying that infants should be baptized before the 4th Century.  For example:
Irenaeus
"He [Jesus] came to save all through himself; all, I say, who through him are reborn in God: infants, and children, and youths, and old men. Therefore he passed through every age, becoming an infant for infants, sanctifying infants; a child for children, sanctifying those who are of that age . . . [so that] he might be the perfect teacher in all things, perfect not only in respect to the setting forth of truth, perfect also in respect to relative age" (Against Heresies 2:22:4 [A.D. 189]). 
Hippolytus
"Baptize first the children, and if they can speak for themselves let them do so. Otherwise, let their parents or other relatives speak for them" (The Apostolic Tradition 21:16 [A.D. 215]). 

Origen
"Every soul that is born into flesh is soiled by the filth of wickedness and sin. . . . In the Church, baptism is given for the remission of sins, and, according to the usage of the Church, baptism is given even to infants. If there were nothing in infants which required the remission of sins and nothing in them pertinent to forgiveness, the grace of baptism would seem superfluous" (Homilies on Leviticus 8:3 [A.D. 248]). 

"The Church received from the apostles the tradition of giving baptism even to infants.
The apostles, to whom were committed the secrets of the divine sacraments, knew there are in everyone innate strains of [original] sin, which must be washed away through water and the Spirit" (Commentaries on Romans 5:9 [A.D. 248]). 
 
The Council of Carthage, in 253, condemned the opinion that baptism should be withheld from infants until the eighth day after birth.
Anne Chapman
6 years 1 month ago
Juan, I have been very busy and will remain so for a while. But, when I have time, I will find and give you alternative sourcews of information regarding baptism in the early church.  Baptism of infants was accepted, but not the rule for quite some time. Of course it is not surprising that different commentators (from different communities) may report different practices. What I find and report when I have time will differ from what you have reported - and neither will be "wrong" as it was largely a matter of custom in each community for quite some time, before infant baptism became a "standard" practice.

Unfortunately, the Catholic church does count all baptized as "members', thus inflating their numbers. Other denominations allow people to get off the rolls. In the Catholic church it is governed by canon law and a baptized Catholic can't "resign" officially even if they want to without going through impossible hoops. It requires a petition to a bishop, and the bishop has to approve it.  You can guess how often that happens. Most Catholics who leave really don't care one whit about whether or not a bishop will approve their change of status and won't bother. The few who try are met with silence.
Anne Chapman
6 years 1 month ago
Walter, from what I have read in multiple places, the answer is that most never receive an answer from the diocese. But,I cannot easily find a source to document that (how many petition, how many are granted the petition out of those who petition).  Generally one hears stories about people who tried and could never even get the chancery to respond at all.

 It is far more common for Catholics to simply walk away from the church - few worry about an official ''release'' anyway.  Those who do ask for a release from their official status of Catholicism through baptism are often so angry with the church that they are offended that the church counts the tens of millions who have walked away as being among their numbers - and they want officials to really know that they are actively choosing to formally renounce their Roman Catholic status. Is that why your friends did it?
Juan Lino
6 years 1 month ago
I want to clarify what I am saying before we go off on a tangent and I will respond from the bottom up.
 
Craig (#9) – In one of my classes we actually researched and debated the topic and one of my classmates argued along these lines, which I thought was a very creative way to look at the data.  Eventually, we reached the point of asking two questions: 1) when and how does a person become a member of the New Covenant?; and 2) who is the protagonist?  Was the practice of infant baptism prevalent in the early Church?  There’s no way for us to know but I think it is reasonable to assert that it was done prior to the time of St. Augustine.  Why is that period hidden in the “fog of history” (to use Anne’s phrase), because Christians were persecuted and therefore cautious about writing things down, or speaking about the intricacies of the Faith to those that were not in the Body of Christ.
 
Anne (#8) – I agree with what you wrote in your first paragraph.  The debate in class was very passionate and those who argued against the baptizing of infants appeared to be thorough (according to my teacher) but I would like to read what you have in mind – can you e-mail the data to me when you have a chance?
 
Bill (#6) – I don’t think your assertion that infant baptism is “a real creation of the fourth century” is solid and that’s all I was trying to say with the quotes.  In fact, in Augustine’s letter to Boniface he cites the authority of St. Cyprian (i.e., what he wrote in De lapsis).  If, however, you meant to say that the practice had become more formalized by the time of St. Augustine, that’s a different issue.
 
Jim (#2) raises a good point.  Speaking for myself, I would like to know how many Catholics actually believe and assent to everything that’s in the CCC (which all who call themselves Catholic Christians should do) and how many don’t.  But, as Jim points out in #3, I don’t think this is something that people don’t want to know.  
6 years 1 month ago
The Church at least in the USA is divided ideologically at least in 5 ways (left/democratic, progressive/heterodox, right/republican, traditionalist/conservative, and centrist/superficial or "basic") I'm sure sociologists can break us down into further groups as John Allen did with his essay on Evangelical Catholics.

My point is that there is a distinction between "nominal" Catholics and those who actually show up - and so both the liberal progressive and the traditional conservative can be right when they affirm "youth today agree with my point of view".

The liberal progressive Catholic is right in that most secular youth (non-Catholic and sizable numbers of 'nominal' Catholics) do indeed agree with their world view and morals. The traditional, evangelical Catholics are indeed right that if we're talking the majority of active Catholics who actually 'show up' at Mass etc. then yes, they're largely traditional.

The key then is what the trend line is. CARA has some data but the world of Catholic media and philanthropy has more. Because the bottom line is where the Church is going, not what the general culture is doing IF you identify yourself first as a Catholic as opposed to as an American or Westerner or "secular" human being.

The demographic 'wave' of the future globally appears to be atheistic, secular hedonism under any number of political schemes and governments. But the wave of the future in the Church is becoming more overtly 'traditional'/evangelical... it's 70/30 by generations and influence but that 30% is young and growing while the 70% of nuns and priests are old and dying off faster than the young 'uns are joining... so in 10-20 years we're going to have 50% fewer priests and nuns, ALOT more post-Christian secular hedons, but those Catholics left in the pews, pulpits and convents will be Traditional/Evangelicals (and martyrs probably too if history is any guide).

So...whose side are we on? Wave of the future secular or wave of the future Church wise?
Anne Chapman
6 years 1 month ago
Juan, I'm not sure that there is one Catholic in the entire world who could honestly assent to all that is written in the CCC.  Except perhaps you?  Yes, if you only wanted Catholics who buy into every word that comes from the mouth of Rome, you could probably fit them all into one good-sized Cathedral.  Smaller but ''purer' (???)  Perhaps Benedict should be careful what he wishes for.  Given the trends in the west, and even in Latin America, he may find that it's not such a good thing to drive Catholics out of the church because of his rush to the past - sadly it sometimes seems that he is more enamoured with the triumphalist, monarchical church of empire than with the gospels.

I will try to find my information - it was in a course I took at a Catholic graduate school of theology - it's in my notes/text somewhere, but it will take me time to find, which I don't have right now.  You are closer to understanding in your comment to Bill - infant baptism was not universally the ''standard'' in christian communities until around the 4th century although it was practiced in some communities earlier than others.

I hope you will learn not to depend exclusively on the airburshed/censored Catholic sources you cite so frequently.  You need to seek out scholarly, non-Catholic sources of information as well.  New Advent/Catholic Encyclopedia for example  - it presents only that history that it thinks appropriate for the ''simple faithful'', and while that history may be true as far as it goes, it omits so much that it often gives a totally untruthful impression overall.
Juan Lino
6 years 1 month ago
Oops, my last sentence should read “I don’t think this is something that people want to know.”

Kevin, that’s a very interesting site – thanks for the link.

Anne - you presume that I don't read scholarly non-Catholic sources and that a human being can be "objective" - which I don't think is possible.  In the end, it boils down to the fact that each of us has to decide whether someone is or is not a credible witness.  Perhaps one day it would be interesting to see if we could actually find a source that we would each agree is a scholarly objective source. 

Regarding your first paragraph, what I can tell you with certainty is that I try not to pick-and-choose which of Christ's teachings I will or will not follow and that's why I actually make it a point to read the CCC from cover to cover often as part of my spiritual reading. 
Anne Chapman
6 years 1 month ago
Juan, yes of course you should use reliable sources. I'm not recommending Jack Chicks or whatever that guy's name is.  But, you must also be alert to the airbrushing that is so often found in Catholic sources - the New Advent/Catholic Encyclopedia entry on Pius IX is a perfect example of a carefully edited presentation. As you know, he is the pope who unfortunately saddled the church with the albatross of a self-aggrandizing interpretation of ''infallibility,'' manipulating the timing of the vote of the council in ways that would make the politicians in Washington proud - just one example of many I have encountered.  I also suggest that you use the CCC as a starting point rather than an end point. You may or may not realize that the catechism, like much else in the church, has changed at times - sometimes what was ''truth'' in one era was no longer ''truth'' in later eras.  You can usethe footnotes, but that is also just the beginning. Since many of the footnotes refer back to church documents, you often have to go backward step by step to find what these notions from earlier documents (councils, papal bulls, etc etc) were originally based on - often very early church documents such as the Didache and Origen.  But, the leaders of the church in earlier centuries were just as selective in which documents/passages etc they chose to base their teachings on as those today are - choosing also which they would rather ignore (and have Catholics know nothing about).  Go back to the sources whenever you can.
Juan Lino
6 years 1 month ago
Anne - as I told you in our e-mail correspondence, I am not a cradle Catholic and thus had to study the Catholic Christian Faith for many years before assenting to the teachings of Christ as mediated to us through His Church.  And the priest I worked with insisted that I read both Christian and non-Christian sources as part of my journey. 
 
While for some learning about the “negative side” of the Christian story turned them off to the Faith, in my case, it convinced me that the Holy Spirit was (and is) present and that He is leading the Church, otherwise she (the Church) should have fallen centuries ago! 
 
Yes, I am young but I am not naïve enough to think that I am going to convince you or anyone else of anything because we all use our freedom to affirm the hidden judgment we’ve already made, either consciously or unconsciously – no surprise there for we are beings affected by concupiscence.
 
Regarding “editing of data”, looking at experience I’ve concluded that we all do that but I do not believe that a person is necessarily mendacious when he or she does it.  For example, if we both look at a glass and you say it is half empty, are you editing the data?  If I say it is half full, am I editing the data?  
 
What I insist on, for the sake of justice and truth, is that a person should not mechanically assume that anything the Church teaches is automatically wrong.
 
Regarding change, don’t forget that we believe in dogma, doctrine, and discipline as well as the development of doctrine.  So let’s pick one of my favorites – the Resurrection.  Was the tomb empty or did Mary simply make-up the story?  Looking at the whole of Christian history did that “truth” change?  What do you see?  What did you discover? 
 
We human beings argue about everything and anything.  For example, the upcoming new translation of the Mass, etc., etc., and we forget the most important thing – Christ comes to be with me and with you; Emmanuel comes!  That’s a truth I bet my life on because He is the one my heart desires.
Jack Barry
6 years 1 month ago
Anne, Walter  -  #10, #11
 Re dis-enrollment, I recall a story a year or so ago of a scheme working in Ireland whereby one could request on-line that one's name be removed from the appropriate diocesan baptismal register.  After a few thousand had actually done it, the system changed, and a reply began to be sent to new requestors that Canon Law no longer allowed the removal.  I've forgotten the source (Google never forgets), but it appeared plausible at the time.   The numbers involved were obviously negligible compared to those voting by Mass non-attendance and other measures.   
Juan Lino
6 years 1 month ago
Anne – I too enjoy and benefit from the conversations we have here, but like you said, they sometimes take up time that I need for other projects.  
 
You wrote: “one cannot assume that what the church teaches is automatically right - and there is much history that even the church itself does not deny (because it can't!) out there that demonstrates that reality.”  If you mean individual members of the church, then we agree!  If you mean the Church discussed in Dominus Iesus, then that’s a different story.
 
Yes, the sensus fidelium … are you and Micahel referring to the sensus fidelium that spontaneously and organically called for the beatification of Pope John Paul the Great or the distorted version that proposes that sensus fidelium is a substitute to the authentic Magisterium?
 
In closing, since you like to read as much as I do, I suggest you read #7 of Dominus Iesus or the answer to question #24 in the YouCat when you have a chance.
 
Have a good night my friend.
Juan Lino
6 years 1 month ago
Thanks Brett - go to see you commenting here again.
Michael Barberi
6 years 1 month ago
Juan, I think you missed the point of my comment or the larger picture. I recognize my comments were short, so that is understandable. 

Our experience of concrete persons and their relationships play an important part in moral discernment. Like Scripture and tradition, this experience requires analysis, interpretation and decision about its usefulness in determining the morality of attitudes and behaviors. With respect to Church teachings, resolving theological differences between theologians and the Church hierarchy are critically important when we have a crisis of truth. If these differences are authoritatively closed to debate, we will stop becoming a listening and learning Church and not benefit from the collective and evolving wisdom of Christianity.

The modern Catholic Church has always been a Vatican-centered institution. However, JP2 significantly increased the centralization of power and authority, especially the papal magisteriu. Those bishops who voiced disagreement with a Church teaching would often have their authority transferred to an auxilliary bishop, or worst removed from office. Priests who disagreed with a doctrine, especially certain sexual ethical teachings, were not made bishops. The voice of the sensus fidelium in the past, and espeically in the post-conciliar period, were heard but not taken seriously. That is being kind. Certainly, most theologians under JP2 were nothing but "dissenters", save for those theologians in the minority who supported the magisterium. As a result of the Vatican culture, we now have a divided Church with the head speaking and not listening or mending fences.

The sensus fidelium is not a substitue for the magisterium but their voice should be part of doctrine formation and Church teachings. The Church has demonstrated since Humanae Vitae that tradition is to be preserved regardless of circumstances, consequences, human experience and unsubstantiated and contradictory theological speculation that was offered as a foundation for this doctrine.

We have 34 million people infected with HIV and this cohort is growing bt 7,000 a day. Yet, the suffering they are enduring is not enough. Male spouses who are infected with this deadly disease must practice celibacy because they cannot use a condom. 

A teaching is not wrong because 97% of female married Catholics world-wide practice a form of birth regulation condemned by the Vatican as intrinsically evil. Doctrine is not formulated by popularity poles. However, if a teaching is not received it does not possess any power to change behavior. The teaching is sterile. 

 
Michael Barberi
6 years 1 month ago
Juan, I think you missed the point of my comment or the larger picture. I recognize my comments were short, so that is understandable. 

Our experience of concrete persons and their relationships play an important part in moral discernment. Like Scripture and tradition, this experience requires analysis, interpretation and decision about its usefulness in determining the morality of attitudes and behaviors. With respect to Church teachings, resolving theological differences between theologians and the Church hierarchy are critically important when we have a crisis of truth. If these differences are authoritatively closed to debate, we will stop becoming a listening and learning Church and not benefit from the collective and evolving wisdom of Christianity.


The modern Catholic Church has always been a Vatican-centered institution. However, JP2 significantly increased the centralization of power and authority, especially the papal magisteriu. Those bishops who voiced disagreement with a Church teaching would often have their authority transferred to an auxilliary bishop, or worst removed from office. Priests who disagreed with a doctrine, especially certain sexual ethical teachings, were not made bishops. The voice of the sensus fidelium in the past, and espeically in the post-conciliar period, were heard but not taken seriously. That is being kind. Certainly, most theologians under JP2 were nothing but ''dissenters'', save for those theologians in the minority who supported the magisterium. As a result of the Vatican culture, we now have a divided Church with the head speaking and not listening or mending fences.

The sensus fidelium is not a substitue for the magisterium but their voice should be part of doctrine formation and Church teachings. The Church has demonstrated since Humanae Vitae that tradition is to be preserved regardless of circumstances, consequences, human experience and unsubstantiated and contradictory theological speculation that was offered as a foundation for this doctrine.

We have 34 million people infected with HIV and this cohort is growing bt 7,000 a day. Yet, the suffering they are enduring is not enough. Male spouses who are infected with this deadly disease must practice celibacy because they cannot use a condom. 

A teaching is not wrong because 97% of female married Catholics world-wide practice a form of birth regulation condemned by the Vatican as intrinsically evil. Doctrine is not formulated by popularity poles. However, if a teaching is not received it does not possess any power to change behavior. The teaching is sterile. 

 
Beth Cioffoletti
6 years 1 month ago
PS. I attended a Jesuit college and give credit to those Jesuits for leading me into a Faith that was much deeper, richer and challenging than anything that I could glean from the rules and regulations, conservative and traditional fare that characterized the Church of my childhood.

This is one of the primary reasons that I continue to read America magazine. I'm very glad the Jesuits have maintained their prophetic edge in an increasingly conservative Church.
Juan Lino
6 years 1 month ago
Oops- my last comment (#43) is in the wrong post - sorry!
Juan Lino
6 years 1 month ago
Mary (#21) - I’d like to know what you mean by the phrase “Cafeteria Catholic” because I don’t want to presume that we understand that phrase in the same way.  I wrote a reply to you but then thought that I’d better ask before posting it.
 
Anne (#40) - I agree that we, the entire Body of Christ, are followers of Christ, first and foremost!  
 
But you then wrote: “The litmus test for all followers of Christ is their loyalty to God and the gospel of Jesus...”  Why did you phrase it that way?  
 
I am asking for several reasons: 1) Isn’t loyalty to Christ the same as loyalty to God?  2) I am not loyal to the “gospel” of Jesus, I am loyal to the “person” of Jesus - the living resurrected person of Jesus - and that’s who I follow.  The question is, where is He?
 
Yes, some canonized saints were considered “dissenters” in their day - no argument there.  But, I am not sure they dissented on doctrine or dogma, although I can’t affirm that with certainty because I have not read the life of every canonized saint. ; )
 
Ed (#41) - I believe that “clericalism” certainly leans toward being bad but I do not believe that is the case with being an Ultramontane (and I am using the word as it was used before the Reformation) is necessarily bad. 

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