Reflections from the pastoral ministry of an Evangelical Catholic Priest.
Much of the article laments the fate of the Catholic Church in the West. It is in obvious decline, both in terms of adherents and in prestige. In rest of the world, membership is increasing in areas (mainly through the birthrate), but troubling for the Church is that those memberships don't result in the income the Church desperately needs.Because of it's governing structure with a self perpetuating hierarchy, the next pope will be critical. Either he will maintain the current hard line and resist reform, or try to stem the tide as it goes out in the West. Even if he tries, it's hard to turn a church that has become so retrenched in its positions. My prognosis, for what it's worth, is that the western reaction to the Catholic Church has reached a tipping point and recovery, without funds or prestige, in the West will be near impossible. Pope Benedict may get the smaller, but I'm not sure, purer Church he's been asking for. To defer questions of why do I care, it's not because if the Church changed I would return to the pews (there is that issue of not believing in God) but because I have family and friends who are Catholic and are struggling because of the control religion has over one's life, they can't leave and they are stuck in a Church that won't change.I feel sorry for them as I know how hard it is to leave, both socially and spiritually, so they live out their lives reluctantly believing (or maybe just tolerating) what for them is unpalatable.Rationlist1
And, then, you have that attitude of - we live in California and we will damned well do and say what we want! Californians are the wisest people on Earth- they think. And to prove it they live on or along a major fault lie. Who cares about little old earthquakes.
Christianity originated in the Middle East and flourished for two millenia in Europe. It is now essentially gone from the Middle East and fast shrinking to insignificance in Europe. North America, Australia and New Zealand seem to be following closely behind Europe this direction. Some reactionary stalwarts point to a supposedly new genesis of traditional Christianity in the developing regions of the Southern Hemisphere and South Asia. While this may be significant to those living in these areas, it doesn't mitigate the fact that as a Western institution of primary cultural influence, the Church is dying.A Church based in the developing nations of the South will not long remain a Western institution. Not in structure, culture, philosophy or theology. The West, in some far future time may be re-evangelized by descendants of this much heralded Southern regenesis, or more likely not, unless there is a new age of imperialism wherein they colonize and subjugate us. In any case it will likely bear little resemblance to what we think of as Western Christianity today.I think it more likely that a deconstructed, grassroots Christian tradition will remain in the West and evolve from there. How that will go and how much real influence such a faith community would exert on Western life and culture is anyone's guess.