The problem? "It doesn't matter."
Very worthwhile interaction between Rod Dreher and Mark Shea over at Mark's blog.
For those of you interested in Rod's proposals, go here.
If I could sum up the American Catholic crisis from 1965-present, it would be this: those charged with the care of the Church, by word and deed, have cultivated a culture of indifference ("CoI"). Yes, that would be, preeminently, the guys with the mitres.
In the face of provocation on every possible issue, they simply shrug and turn away--when they don't shoot the messenger warning them, that is. Not all of them, to be sure, but more than enough to ensure that the culture is entrenched and spreading.
I know I keep hitting on the abortion issue--flailing away on the expiring nag--but it is the perfect emblem of the problem. The episcopate assures us that the issue is central, and that they care--but.
When the rubber hits the road, we hear about personal discomfort. Even an incoherent celebration of differing standards of treatment on the issue.
When this happens, the CoI makes it clear that it really isn't important after all. Because when it's important--such as benefits during a strike--they act--repeatedly. Even if the CEO target of the rebuke isn't Catholic. [Don't get me wrong--I have no problem with bishops swatting greedy CEOs (if that is the case here). But it would be nice to see a recognition that debates over health care are strictly a privilege of the living--making a--rt--n a more foundational issue.]
But on lesser issues (like you know what), members of the flock who flout church teaching are publicly welcomed.
Because--ultimately--the issue really does not matter. If it did matter, Cdl. Mahony, the man entrusted with the largest Catholic diocese in the United States, would act in such a way as to signal to his flock and the rest of the Body that it does matter. Starting with an assurance of serious consequences for the determined championing of abortion on demand.
Instead of sounding more than a little like he was trying to recover from a blackjack to the noggin.
Then there's the handling of The Love That Routinely Calls Press Conferences.
In Minnesota, bringing the trashing of church teaching to the attention of the metropolitan archbishop will earn you a bullet from That Poor, Poor Man Sagging Under The Burden Of His Office.
Here in Michigan, flush from the victory to bypass the threat of faithful sister Granholm's veto of the PBA ban, the bishops in April decided to sit out the marriage debate.
If you find a coherent reason in there, please refer me to it. "The need for education"? Yeah, it's a real complicated concept, preserving an institution older than Western civilization the way it's always been.
Those of us manning the petition drive tables had to field a lot of questions on the issue--read: none. Yep, way more complicated than the previous ballot initiative the Church supported with its time and treasure--on vouchers (can you say "Custer"? I knew you could!).
[Pop!] Memo to self: "Stop rolling eyes up that far."
But the institution of marriage? Well, that's really complicated, and anyway it'll work itself out in the end...
The Culture of Indifference.
Then there's the routine worship idiocies, the weekly outrages at the local Catholic-for-tax-purposes university--as always, met with idgas (hint: it's an acronym) jets running at full blast. But since there's never even a hint of discipline for anyone on these fronts (see here and here respectively), neither is really worth discussing.
Ultimately, if the leadership doesn't care, why should the rank and file?
More to the point: Why should I?