Thursday, March 27, 2008

Why Catholics Bailed

Fascinating series of opinions here.

The one which I favor:

...Carlin paints a picture of an American Catholic Church that, after two centuries of manning the "Tridentine ramparts" against its Protestant foes in what had traditionally been a hostile land, by the 1960s finally considered itself in a strong-enough position -- both as a religion and as full participant in the national culture -- to drop some of its defenses and engage its old enemy on genial terms. But when it did so, it was wholly unprepared to discover that its enemy was no longer Protestantism but secularism,which had already hollowed out the doctrines and practices of mainline Protestant churches, and was now being invited to infect Catholicism -- through contact with modernistic Scripture scholarship, mischievous moral theology, corrupted social sciences, horizontal liturgism, and the generalized rebellion against tradition and authority that marked the era. Thus did liberal Christianity -- which Carlin characterizes as low-doctrine, anti-miraculous, morally malleable, and geocentric in its aims -- enter the Church through the front door and go on to leave its mark on Catholic life and practice.

How does this bear on the question of why Catholics leave the Church? Because liberal Christianity, being essentially a working compromise with secularism, cannot sustain itself. This is observable both as a historical phenomenon (each time Christianity has engaged in compromise with secularism, it has emerged less distinctively Christian than it was before) and also in reflection upon human nature. For religions retain believers, and especially those most fervent and active believers, when their doctrines and practices are distinct, complex, and engaging -- and lose believers when they're not.

Put into concrete terms: A Catholicism that sets before its believers a broad and strict test of moral and doctrinal adherence will keep its members. A Catholicism that is reduced (and often it is so, ironically, in order not to scare folks away) to "being a good person" will lose them. Because -- and this is the nub of it -- one can be a good person without going to church.

On this point, the mainline Protestants have been somewhat more advanced than we. But now the Catholic children of the children of the 1960s, unburdened by conviction or even mere nostalgia or guilty habit, are figuring it out in droves.

Todd M. Aglialoro

Hardly the only worthwhile reading in the series, by the way.


Unknown said...

That is why I went for a time to a church other than Catholic - I wanted to be in the midst of devotion and not luke warm just-in-case Christianity. I returned and searched for devotion again. This time I have seen what appears to be devotion.

Billiam said...

Good points. The church I go to is by no means "luke warm". If they ever start heading down that road, They'll lose better than 70% of the membership..