Future of Catholicism
There and Back Again
That leadership is spread out across the United States, but some names are familiar. Cardinal Egan of New York is a robust force for the new orthodoxy. Denver Archbishop Charles Chaput is a leader not just of his local flock but of Catholic intellectuals and pro-life activists across the fifty states. Chaput's book, Render Unto Caesar: Serving Our Nation by Living Our Catholic Beliefs in Political Life, has had an enormous impact on Catholics connected in any way to American political life. Egan and Chaput have many strong allies among their brother bishops, and their numbers are growing.
Catholic public intellectuals like George Weigel and Kathleen Lopez, backed by scores of Catholic bloggers, the reviving lay leadership, and the burgeoning memberships of organizations like Knights of Columbus and Legatus are recreating a Catholic culture that once again will nurture young Catholics as they set out to serve God and country. The ranks of orthodox Catholicism cheered the announcement that San Antonio Archbishop Jose Gomez will replace the retiring Cardinal Roger Mahoney in the diocese of Los Angeles as yet another sign of the great returning to orthodoxy, and seminaries like Chaput's in Denver are training a new generation of old school priests: devout, holy, and full of energy for the Gospel and the Church.
Much of secular America, and especially the country's mainstream media, is almost wholly unaware of the tide flowing in the American Catholic Church, and would be shocked at rising numbers of Mass attenders in unlikely places.
If they looked, they would also find communities of fully integrated Americans of diverse ethnic and economic backgrounds, brought together by a common faith. The emerging Catholic Church in America has a huge Latino element which, like the Irish and Italian immigrant waves before it, is finding in the Church a steadying, welcoming, and comforting institution that they can trust. Earlier generations of Catholic immigrants from Mexico, Cuba, and Central and South America had already established themselves within the American Church, so this aspect of the renewal of the American Church is well underway. The future of a fully integrated America is already on display in the pews of the average Roman Catholic Church in California and throughout the west. Those worried about assimilation ought to realize that the Church is already on the job, as it has been for centuries.
Due to the leadership first of John Paul II and now of Benedict, the theology of the Roman Catholic Church did not suffer the same confusion as did the Liturgy, and the defense of traditional Catholic moral teaching on subjects such as the the need to defend all life from womb to natural death and to keep God's commands on the subject of human sexuality has been consistent even though many among the messengers were horrible hypocrites, sinners, and even criminals. The teaching made it through the terrible years and stands intact and uncompromised. New leaders not tainted by the scandals are raising up those teachings again, with great and persuasive power. Divisions with traditionalists are being healed, and discipline restored across the country, so that the Mass, other Sacraments, and doctrine are conducted and understood properly.