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Monday, March 10, 2008

The skipping record.

Another day, another NCReporter editorial, this one about the decline of Catholic identification in the U.S. when you subtract out the immigrant effect.

The answer to reverse this worrying trend?

"Why is the Vatican so defensive about pelvic issues? They sound very defensive right now. I mean, you spend thirty years trying to talk about clerical celibacy, birth control, "adultery" and gay people getting it on and it's like all they ever focus on.

It's them, right?"

Consider the Reporter's list of discussion topics:

We’d add a few of our own: the sex abuse crisis, particularly the cover-up by bishops; rules prohibiting birth control; rules forbidding Communion to divorced and remarried Catholics; lack of accountability on financial matters; the second-class status of women in the church; rejection of gays and lesbians.

A round half dozen topics, and fifty percent are related to smuggling the bratwurst. You get the sense that the Reporter's editorialists knew that it was a bit pelvocentric, hence the tossing in of financial accountability to bring it up to 50% non-genital.

Mind you, I can agree with the necessity of financial transparency, but I doubt people are running for the exits because of accounting practices.(1) I also agree that the sexual abuse crisis has not abated and has not been handled properly to this day. This sort of thing does drive reasonable, good-hearted people out the door and will remain an albatross for years to come.

The rest? With a partial exception, spare me. Here's the partial: divorced and remarried Catholics do need to be treated better. At a minimum, the annulment process should be free everywhere in the country (it's free in the Detroit archdiocese) and the Church needs to explain marriage as a sacrament with crystaline clarity, along with genuine pastoral sensitivity to those who have escaped from bad marriages. Obviously, that's not what the NCRep is gunning for, which is divorce-and-remarriage-without-consequences, but that doesn't mean the current system is problem free. Far from it.


Would capitulation to the Reporter's talking points stem the tide? No, and if they had a shred of honesty, the editorial writers would acknowledge this. Time to wake up and smell the decomposing canary.

There are a few self-identified Christian churches who preach the Reporter's gospel, and each one of them is in varying stages of undeath. Take, for example, The Episcopal Church [urgent note from Chris Johnson: "PLEEEEEASE!"].

TEC endorses everything on the Reporter's wishlist: Women bishops and clergy, a divorced gay bishop and plenty of gay clergy, a thrice-married straight bishop and no problem 'tall with slapping a raincoat on Mr. Happy or otherwise engaging in evaluations of spongeworthiness. In fact, birth control is a mark of proper Piskie stewardship.

Result? For reasons which continue to escape the logical/spiritual assessments of the Reporter's editorial board, TEC is not standing-room-only on Sunday mornings. The description I'm looking for will prominently feature the word "crater."

Other mainline denominations are losing members, too, but none resemble the Catholic Church in organization and worship quite so much as TEC.
But looking more like TEC will help us grow. Especially if we keep saying it over and over again, year after year after year. It would almost be touching if it weren't so delusional.
(1) Rather like those who try to argue that slavery wasn't the cause of the Civil War. To which I reply that I had no idea people in Massachusetts and South Carolina were so willing to bayonet each other over tariffs.

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