This New Catholicism is young and optimistic, but it is unlikely to tolerate the open dissent that went with the 1970s and the “cultural Catholicism” of generations past. That form of Catholicism is dying, and its death is symbolised by the northern US parishes with plummeting congregations, a shortage of priests and huge debts as they pay off child-abuse scandals. It seems that in the parishes where “anything goes”, everybody went.
Father Timothy Reid, 34, one of the priests who has moved south, told Time magazine that he moved to Charlotte as “it’s more vibrant here because we’re creating a Catholic culture almost from scratch”.
Father Jay Scott Newman, pastor of St Mary’s, Greenville, South Carolina, said: “Here you are not Catholic because your parents came from Italy or Slovakia. It’s because you believe what the Church teaches you is absolutely true.”
However, the tension between Evangelicalism and Catholicism in the US is waning. As the main Protestant churches continue to haemorrhage members, money and influence, the two main religious forces in America are Catholicism and Evangelicalism. Despite the historical tensions, these two religious forces are surprisingly convergent; their steady rapprochement and shared conservative agenda has been analysed in the recent book Is the Reformation Over? Many ascribe George Bush’s election to his second presidential term to the fact that he appealed to the New Catholic vote as well as the right-wing Evangelical vote.
A fascinating article in The Times (London). Read the whole thing here. Thank you Fr. Kimel.