The joy of sects

Is the Catholic Church becoming little more than a sect?

Jamie Manson, a columnist at NCR offers this observation:

With its attacks on same-sex marriage, battle against providing adequate health care for women, hostile takeover of LCWR and inquisition into the Girl Scouts, the hierarchy continues to make itself an embarrassing media spectacle in a society that long ago refused to accept the teaching on birth control, believes in women’s equality and increasingly supports same-sex marriage.

Even those who are not affected directly by these ideological battles find it odious that hierarchy is choosing to spend precious money and resources on lawsuits against the Obama administration and bizarre new campaigns like the Fortnight for Freedom.

Church leaders seem hell-bent on disenfranchising the greatest number of laity possible.

The question is, Why? Why is the hierarchy acting like the new boss who so wants to rid himself of the staff he inherited, he makes it as uncomfortable as possible for them to stay in the organization? Has the church leadership made a decision to downsize? Have they realized that the $2.2 billion in sex abuse settlements and the rapidly dwindling number of priests in the United States has rendered the church unable to provide for the needs of 72 million Catholics?

Perhaps all of these ideological battles — which, we are told, are grounded in Pope Benedict’s desire for a smaller, more faithful church — are really all about the money, or lack thereof. More than one commentator has suggested that the endgame in the crackdown on LCWR could be to recapture property, assets and pension reserves from religious communities.

Unfortunately, if the hierarchy continues on this path of mass disenfranchisement, what will result isn’t a smaller, more faithful church, but an insular, countercultural sect.

Read more.


  1. The first paragraph has me confused. Is this supposed to be a Catholic newspaper? It sounds like something more at home on the Huffington Post or Gawker.

  2. vox borealis says:

    Church leaders seem hell-bent on disenfranchising the greatest number of laity possible. The question is, Why?

    When one’s hermeneutic lens is poplar politics rather than eternal truth, the answer must indeed seem elusive.


    My goodness, I hope so.

  3. vox borealis says:

    And what is perhaps most amazing is the underlying assumption, that the Church would be better served by conforming to society, by avoiding these tough and unpopular battles. Because of course we all know how well the less rigorous approach has worked over the last fifty or sixty years, what with robust participation in the sacraments, high degree of pay knowledge and adherence to basic Catholic tenets, booming seminary enrollments, ever more parochial schools, etc.

  4. OK, Deacon, I took a break and decided to read the article/commentary in NCR. “There’s not much there there.” Just a rehash of the usual complaints. The writer, Jamie Manson, says that the Church’s bold proclamation on a variety of issues represents “fear of the world.” Sorry, Jamie, but Cardinal Dolan is no timid Church mouse nor am I nor most active Catholics I know.

    BTW, NCR tells us that “Jamie L. Manson received her Master of Divinity degree from Yale Divinity School, where she studied Catholic theology and sexual ethics.”

    With all due respect to Yale Divinity School, how are they qualified to teach anyone about “Catholic theology and sexual ethics?” Perhaps Ms. Manson was more interested in the commercial value and prestige of a Yale degree than learning about Catholic theology. For less money, she could have gotten her degree at Dunwoodie in the Catholic Archdiocese of New York and learned from the very best what “Catholic theology” really is.

  5. Frankly that’s nonsense. I guess Jamie Manson doesn’t understand the magisterium. Is she even Catholic? If anyone is being ideological, it’s Manson.

    And the Catholic Church bears some responsibility for not being so vocal on its teachings and doctrine over the past 40 years.

  6. What gave you the idea that Never Confronts Reality is a Catholic newspaper?

  7. *PuttingFingersInEarsAndSingingLa-La-La* for the sake of my soul. And my blood pressure. But really. In what kind of bizzaro world does “Questioning the conformity to Catholic teaching in public statements by the LCWR, a juridical person under canon law” = “Intent to steal the property of nuns”? Look out, Sister! Cardinal Levada has his eye on your 10-year-old Hyundai and is looking forward to churning that apartment you rent into a luxury condo!

  8. It would appear that NCR somewhat misrepresented Ms. Manson’s course of study at Yale Divinity School when they stated that she studied “CATHOLIC theology and sexual ethics.” According to her own website, Manson studied “theology, spirituality and sexual ethics” at Yale — with no use of the adjective “Catholic” in the description. According to her website, her last job was with a Presybterian church in Manhattan. She’s board member of something called the “Women’s Ordination Conference.” There’s more, but I think we get the gist.

  9. “With its attacks on same-sex marriage, battle against providing adequate health care for women, hostile takeover of LCWR and inquisition into the Girl Scouts, the hierarchy continues to make itself an embarrassing media spectacle in a society that long ago refused to accept the teaching on birth control, believes in women’s equality and increasingly supports same-sex marriage.”

    MoDow, eat your heart out!

  10. Jamie if you are reading I have one more item to add to your list, YOU, and the NCR, which should be NRC (Not Really Catholic). What an embarassment you are Jamie, and who reads the NCR rag anyway.

  11. One only needs to look at the regular contributors to NCR to know that this is type of editorial is nothing new. Why does this suprise some?

  12. Lorraine Boettner couldn’t have written it better.

  13. It would be funny, if it wasn’t so sad. Talk about the world turned upside down!

  14. Christ and his small group of followers were nothing more than a “sect” and a persecuted one, at that. If Christ’s church, His body, were not persecuted in and by the world, I would be worried that I belonged to the wrong church.

    As it is, we can expect, as a church and as true disciples, nothing more than the cross of Christ in this world, and the hope of Glory in the next.

  15. Manson is essentially correct. The hierarchy I think quite consciously has decided that a much smaller but doctrinally pure church is preferable to a large group of disparate and heterodox “CINO” folks. Whether one sees that as “disenfranchising” or a positive thing is a matter of perspective. The bishops are indisputably asserting their authority with the underlying implication (sometimes explicit) “our way or the highway.” It’s probably a wise strategic move on their part as the alternative would be almost total irrelevance of their positions in both Catholic and secular society. With a leaner but fiercly loyal flock – perhaps 20-25% of American Catholics, at most, they’ll command the sort of loyalty that the Hassidic rabbinate enjoys. They won’t be able to claim the large numbers they historically have, but it’s obvious that large majorities of Catholics do not place much stock in the bishop’s authority even now. They’ll renew and enhance their influence with a pared down core of “Real Catholics.” The rest, who know. Maybe they’ll schism into some sort of American Catholic church. More likely, they’ll drift into a European style secularism while retaining a purely nominal religious identity.

  16. A healthy Catholic culture needs the genius of both liberal and conservative. I don’t think the Church is in danger of becoming a cult. But the hierarchy is dogged by ideological inbreeding.

    Knowing how heavily the NCR hammers away at First World affluence, Christian persecution in the Third World, and tackles “unpopular” stories like child sexual abuse, episcopal cover-up, and the like, it’s laughable to think their message is primarily a comfortable one.

    I for one plan to continue to be a gadfly to conservative Catholics who have become too hidebound and too blind to the demands of the Gospel. If that means a few in the Temple Police get bothered, then it’s no worse than the prescription you’re suggesting for others, is it?

  17. I believe that Jamie Manson is unqualified to have anything published in a news periodical. Her writing is just awful, IMHO.

  18. A healthy Catholic culture needs the genius of both liberal and conservative.

    In this instance the tension is between belief and unbelief or, if you prefer, truth and falsehood.

    What’s laughable is the notion that the NCR exists to afflict the comfortable. It is a mouthpiece for the comfortable, who very much resent the looming prospect of their own discomfort. Right, Todd?

  19. ron chandonia says:

    Even by NCR standards, Jamie is unusually acerbic and rarely if ever gives the hierarchy the benefit of the doubt. In her spiritual universe, it seems as if sexual orientation is more important than baptism as a sign of justification. Unfortunately, it’s not just NCR that has been distancing itself from the institutional Church on matters of sexual ethics. Commonweal has grown increasingly contemptuous of Catholic teaching in that area, and America has followed suit. These are the publications favored by the educated elite of the Church in this country. It is sad to see them go the way of Georgetown.

  20. More garbage from an anti-Catholic screed of a newspaper.

  21. No I think the Church wants to teach correct doctrine. There is no strategy to disenfranchise. The Church is not looking to let people go. But they are obligated to preach correctly.

  22. Heck, I always thought the Church was SUPPOSED to be a “countercultural sect.” If we wanted to have a “cultural sect”, we’d join a political party.

  23. Art ND'76 says:

    My first thought on seeing this was from “NCR” was to ask myself: Which “NCR”? It would be more helpful to differentiate “NCReporter” from “NCRegister”. To say that they are 2 unique publications is an understatement indeed!

    Of course, it didn’t take reading too many sentences to know which “NCR” this article appeared in.

  24. Wrong. On both counts.

  25. Deacon Norb says:

    Maybe, maybe not. I may well be the only deacon on this blog who HAS read Lorraine Boettner.

    Frankly, I’d rather read NCR than him any day. At least NCR does not affirm that Roman Catholicism is “of the devil.” But then, NCR did publish a letter of mine once upon a time.

    For those of you who do not know — Lorraine Boettner actually debated Karl Keating in a Baptist church — no less — and the congregation ruled that Keating won the debate!

  26. Yes, Mr. Manson, the Catholic Church should adopt the political, social and doctrinal posture of the liberal Protestant churches. Because, you know, they’re all bursting at the seems with congregants. What a pathetic rant!

  27. David J. White says:

    I think the odds that the Catholic Church will still be around in a recognizable form in 500 years are a lot greater than the odds that the United States — or, indeed, secular Western society — will still be around in 500 years.

  28. BillBronx says:

    Its amazing how some Catholics ( like this writer) get so uncomfortable with the very things that make the Catholic Church so, well…Catholic. It seems that they want the Church to dissolve itself into the greater become modern, updated and mainstream. Ask some of your Jewish brothers where the homogenization of their culture and faith got them. If I ever had the chance to sit down to chat with this writer I would have one question: “What exactly DO YOU like about the Church, its teachings on the gospels, our dogma, and our faith?” Maybe, what you like in our faith you could find in greater supply somewhere else…in another religion possibly…or in none at all…

  29. Chris Mac says:

    Deacon Greg,
    Why are you wasting time with this garbage? Along with the “cup vs. chalice” post, I’m thinking you’ve either run out of material or decided to take pot shots at the Church yourself. Is this edifying? Does it advance anyone’s knowledge or faith? Yeesh.

  30. “the endgame in the crackdown on LCWR could be to recapture property, assets and pension reserves from religious communities.”

    Recapture would mean the asset were the Churches to begin with – the nuns mostly had their assets donated to them, especially their land. The Church is actually in the process of getting rid of a lot of property and assets. This writer is off their rocker.

  31. Midwestlady says:

    It’s a tiny little Catholic newspaper that lusts to be mainstream. In that sentimental frame, it’s a tiny microcosm of some groups of Catholics. Some of them would rather religion be a private thing, a little ethnic detail that they inherited–and maybe got roped into as an infant, so they’re ambivalent about–but don’t really have to own up to in public. Not really ready to give up the binkie yet, but don’t want anyone to know they have it.

  32. Midwestlady says:

    Maybe someone should inform Madame Manson that Yale was founded by a bunch of Protestant pastors, but that Yale gave up its religious affiliation a long time ago. If a person wants to learn Catholicism, Yale isn’t the place to do it.

  33. Midwestlady says:

    I don’t think that’s what they’re doing, Kenneth. I think they want to bring everyone along the right way.

    But I think they’ve also realized that we’re really in a bad way, and if push were to come to shove, they really wouldn’t have all those CINOs anyway. They’d be gone.

    I think they’ve decided to help as many people as they can and hope push doesn’t get to shove before they can get to everybody who’ll listen.

  34. Midwestlady says:

    I’m not sure this is what they mean by “cult.” I think that what someone is yelling about is whether we’re going to be part of the general culture with just a little inconsequential stamp in the corner like an ethnic freckle or something like that, or whether we’re going to stick to our guns on what the Church teaches whether we’re right, left or in the middle and take our lumps. They’d like the first option and they’re agitating for it.

  35. Midwestlady says:

    Jack, Or a tupperware party. ;)

  36. Midwestlady says:

    Must be a slow news day.

  37. Is it her writing style with which you disagree or the topics she addresses with which you disagree?

  38. IntoTheWest says:

    Oh, my…that wasn’t bitter at all…

  39. Deacon Greg Kandra says:

    It is a tiny little Catholic newspaper with — according to its publisher — 44,000 subscribers. That’s about 10,000 more than the National Catholic Register. (Though about 20,000 less than Our Sunday Visitor).

    For better or worse, NCReporter’s following is not insignificant.


  40. Midwestlady says:

    Maybe some of them are reading it because it’s funny. That’s why I go over there sometimes. It’s very droll.

  41. Midwestlady says:

    What I always wonder about is how many Church employees are on their subscriber list. Ever read those comments just for fun?

  42. Midwestlady says:

    Correct, GenX. Either the author is totally ignorant of how religious congregations really work, OR she’s hoping to take advantage of the laity who may not know how they work in order to mislead them.

  43. All I know is what I read in Pew Research. According to Pew for every person coming into the Church 4 leave. What’s really happned is that many American Catholics have assimilated the prevailing American culture. As Russ Douthat says,”We’re all heretics now”. Denomiations mean a lot less than they did 50 years ago. Fro many, it’s where they go to Church. Period. All the doctrines are really pretty secondary. Please stop assuming that the laity is easily misled. They aren’t. And IF, as many who post here, they are CINO’s, that’s a decison they made. People, these days take what they need and leave the rest. The Church in the United States may very well become much smaller. This may make many uncomfortable, but, if that’s what happens, well that’s what happens. Remember, many Catholics are or were Catholics because they were raised that way, NOT because they believe or ever believed what they were taught. In my view, that’s really the problem, the inability of the Church to “hold” cradle Catholics. Now, the Church is in panic mode and trying to find ways of keeping people in the Church i.e the “New Evangelism”. When I was a kid, Catholics didn’t evangelize in the United States. THAT was for Africa or Asia. NOW, OMG, we must evangelize people who aren’t really intersted.
    And finally, I keep reading that we need catechize more. What make you think that teaching and preaching what the Church teaches is going to make people any more likely to believe it. In my view let people go and leave them alone.

  44. Actually, Pope Benedict has never said that he “desired” a smaller, purer Church…rather that he anticipated (quite prophetically) that it would naturally become smaller as less committed Christians no longer felt a societal pressure to practice the faith. The result would be that those who stay do so out of real conviction, and thus we begin once again as a mustard seed, with the hope of spreading the gospel on fertile soil.

    And, by the way…I have a such hard time reading NCR…it is totally devoid of joy.

  45. What they need to do is to have an honest process and definition of membership that hinges on fully informed choice. Under the current system of infant baptism and childhood confirmation, most Catholics have no more personal buy-in than an Indian who happens to be born into a caste. It’s just a function of your last name and who you were born to. If real membership depended on confirmation at age 18 (or even early 20s) following an RCIA like process, you’d have a church of people who were there because they wanted to be and knowing why they wanted to be there.

  46. Alan Sides says:

    Consider the source.

    The NCR has been anti-Catholic and subversive for over 40 years.

    In 1968, NCR’s ordinary, Bishop Charles Herman Helmsing “issue[d] a public reprimand for their policy of crusading against the Church’s teachings,” condemning its “poisonous character” and “disregard and denial of the most sacred values of our Catholic faith.” Helmsing warned that NCR’s writers were likely guilty of heresy, had likely incurred latae sententiae excommunications, and because the publication “does not reflect the teaching of the Church, but on the contrary, has openly and deliberately opposed this teaching,” he “ask[ed] the editors in all honesty to drop the term ‘Catholic’ from their masthead,” because “[b]y retaining it they deceive their Catholic readers and do a great disservice to ecumenism by being responsible for the false irenicism of watering down Catholic teachings.”

    NCR refused to comply with its ordinary, and 66 Catholic journalists signed a statement disagreeing with the condemnation based on its “underlying definition of the legitimate boundaries of religious journalism in service to the church.” The Catholic Press Association reported that the dispute arose from a difference of opinion regarding the function of the press.”

    Edward Peters, a Referendary of the Apostolic Signatura, has stated in regards to Canon 216 of the 1983 Code of Canon Law:
    But sentence two of Canon 216 is another matter: “Nevertheless, no undertaking is to claim the name ‘Catholic’ without the consent of competent ecclesiastical authority.” The plain text of this canon unquestionably puts the burden on those behind an undertaking to secure consent from the competent ecclesiastical authority before claiming the name “Catholic” for their project(s). Let me suggest an analogy. Say that I’m a pretty smart lawyer, that my legal advice is usually right, that it secures for folks a better situation than they had before, and that it saves them lots of time and tons of money. All of this would mean zilch if, along the way, I held myself out to be licensed for the practice of law in some state where I was not authorized to practice. The state would not have to prove that I don’t have a law degree (in fact I do) or that my advice was unsound (it might be sound or not, depending on the issue) or that I am profiting by my work (perhaps I don’t). The state would simply have to show that I am claiming to be something I am not, namely, someone authorized to act as an attorney. I would be lucky if I got-off with just a Cease-and-Desist order.”

  47. MhariDubh says:

    It’s not the hierarchy that will chase me away.

    It’s the nastiness of the laity.

  48. Mark Greta says:

    When some said Christ teaching were too hard and walked away, He did not chase after them giving them a more acceptable secular teaching. He let them walk. When Pope Benedict XVI predicted that the Church would become smaller, it was on the basis that truth cannot be turned into a lie to keep butts in the pews. Frankly, most of those leaving left long ago when they failed to keep attending mass each Sunday and doing most of the other things required of Catholics. It would be nice if they simply left and stopped saying they are Catholics and far less confusing for the lazy media types who keep giving us the Catholic viewpoint from those no longer even in the pews. At least those who walked away from Christ walked away and did not hang around telling lies at Catholic locations. So many do not seem to understand that being a Catholic demands that some teaching are accepted as truth that will never change while other teachings can be a matter of interpretation. That is what non negotiable means as the Pope stated as linked to by Deacon Greg. NON NEGOTIABLE folks.

  49. Midwestlady says:

    You may have some good points there, pol, particularly in the top part of your comment there. And this is why trying to “mislead” the laity might not work so well, regardless of how vigorously NCR, VOTF and all the rest of them try to do it.

    Look, the dissident wing for years has been yelling about birth control and all that, not realizing that when they do that, it doesn’t win the laity over to their camp. The laity know they don’t have to support the likes of NCR if they just want birth control. All they have to do is go to their family doctor. NCR has nothing to do with it and they know that. This has puzzled the living heck out of dissidents for years.

    I don’t see why what this person is trying to stir up over women religious is different. It isn’t. Same, same.

  50. Midwestlady says:

    I’m hearing this kind of thing a fair amount online and I’ve heard it in person in the last six months too. I make no judgment about how right or wrong it is, but I’m hearing it.

  51. Midwestlady says:

    Putting this into perspective: The Wall Street Journal’s DAILY circulation is 2,092,523.

    I’m trying to think how long it’s been since I’ve seen a paper copy of the NCR. It’s been a long time.

  52. IntoTheWest says:


  53. IntoTheWest says:

    If the Catholic Church feels that way, then they ought to stop using the number of Baptised Catholics for statistical purposes and rely only on registered parishioners (which would still be a sketchy statistic at best, but would be more accurate than the Baptismal numbers).

  54. I agree with you, but the flip side is that the Church needs to be honest enough to “let” them go and then to acknowledge they’re gone. As it stands now, they want it both ways. They want to be able to say the Church has nearly 80 million American members or something like that, and yet only consider some fraction of that to be “real” Catholics. Yeah, people can just stop going and do, but they’re still counted statistically and canonically as Catholic. The one process that halfway acknowledged a formal defection, was abolished a year or two ago as soon as people found out about it. I happened use the process in 2009, and it was a big deal in parts of Europe for a while. There needs to be a two-way respect. Those who don’t believe the core stuff ought not to hang around and call themselves Catholic. The Church, for its part, needs to give them a proper way out and also to quit counting them as members when it’s convenient to do so.

  55. Deacon Greg Kandra says:

    A Catholic is a Catholic is a Catholic. By baptism, even a fallen-away Catholic remains Catholic, a member (however wounded and broken) of the Body of Christ. The way to deal with these people isn’t to cut them off like an atrophied limb. Look at how patient the Holy Father has been with SSPX.

    The fundamental purpose of the Church—from the Pope in Rome to the lowly CCD teacher in Brooklyn—is the salvation of souls. Why on earth should we facilitate the means for souls to be lost?

    Even if someone elects to leave, the door to eternal life must always remain open. The Church will wait like the prodigal’s father, looking for his child’s return.


  56. Deacon Steve says:

    I have a friend that moved away from our parish a few years ago. After she moved we lost touch for a bit, then reconnected through facebook. Our youngest had gone to school together and both left the parish school about the same time for different reasons. I have kept in touch with her over the last 7 years. Things got bad for her, her daughter ended up trying to committ suicide in 6th grade, her husband got drunk and assaulted her, breaking her arm and then ending up in jail. She relocated a few hours away. She has gone back and forth with her relationship with God through all this. I send her notes an IMs to see how she is doing, and how her daughter is doing. The other day she was really having a down day and I messaged her and we chatted a bit. At the end she said that she tells her daughter that I am the only one from the parish that has made any attempt to see how they are doing.
    I am telling this because we as baptized Christians have the responsibility to reach out to those that find themselves distanced from God and the Church. We must follow Jesus’ command to love one another. We cannot force a person to stay in the Church, and piling on guilt laden arguements to try to get them to stay isn’t loving them. We need to allow them the freedom to step away, but we need to keep showing them the love that God shows to us when we stray. We don’t have to be in their face trying to get them to come back, but we can through our attitude be a path back for them when they are ready to return. I don’t like see my friend in pain and going through all she is going through, but making her feel guilty isn’t going to help. She feels bad enough about the things that are going on. Ministry of presence is all I can do for her, so that she knows that someone is on her side, and hopefully she will realize it is God loving her, I am just a tool for him to use.

  57. Deacon Greg Kandra says:

    Amen. Beautifully put, Dcn. Steve.


  58. My fallen away Catholic husband brought me into the Church in the most serendipitous way imaginable which I won’t get into again beyond saying he bought me rosary beads; and although he professes ‘no belief’ in the Church’s teachings I don’t believe him. I think he doesn’t understand the Church’s teaching. He is awestruck at my daily mass attendance because seeing me get up at 6 every morning because I love it so much is the eighth wonder of the world to him. I’ll get him back even if it takes another 20 years. Thanks for the encouraging words Deacon Greg that a Catholic is a Catholic is a Catholic. After the Easter Vigil, he was the one pushing me to schedule our convalidation of marriage. That’s the eighth wonder of the world to me. Hope springs eternal.

  59. The point that Kenneth and others are trying to make is that by baptizing infants and children you are committing them to a religious tradtion they did not feely choose. If one does not freely choose, how can one truly be a Catholic?
    My wife, a DRE, told me just today, that she had 3 kids her confirmation class this year who flat out told her that the ONLY reason that they were in the class was because that’s what their parents wanted them to do. She did not allow them to finish. She expects MORE in next years class.
    In a related case, I was the sponsor for a close friend who “converted” to Catholicism this year under serious pressure from his wife, who returned to the Church in the last year or so. I was shocked, because he was pretty much a religoius skeptic. It wasn’t until I had a conversation with his grown son that it became clear that the only reason he had “converted” was to save his marriage. His son’s view and MIne is that he wouldn’t have otherwise. BUT it’ll chocked up as another new member entering the Church, when the relaity is MUCH different and there more than you would think like this situation.

  60. The reasons people stay in the Church and the reasons they leave are too many to count. Evangelization isn’t a numbers game. The responsibility of the heirarchy is to make sure the faith is presented in a clear and consistent way that is faithful to the gospel. Each of us, as individual members of the Body of Christ, has the responsibility to reflect the gospel in our lives so that, when others see us (whether active Catholic, unactive Catholic, or not Catholic at all) they see Christ; when they hear us, they hear Christ. “Preach the gospel every day. If necessary, use words,” St. Francis said. Don’t fall to the temptation to water down the truth of the faith when faced with those who reject it in order to make it more palatable for them, but don’t shove it down their throats, either. Respect their free will, their intelligence, and their integrity, just as we ought to respect the integrity of the gospel. St. Paul exhorts us to teach the gospel faithfully, and St. Peter exhorts us to be gentle when others ask us the cause for our joy. Faithful, gentle, and joyful.

  61. The door can be left open, and that’s a great sentiment, but if the Church wants honesty and integrity from people, it has to be willing to return the same to them. Virtually every item that appears in your blog and Mark Shea’s and all over the Catholic media today has to do with the Church’s re-assertion of orthodoxy. From the Pope on down, the daily message is: “Toe the line on what it really means to be Catholic or quit using the label.” That’s fair enough. They’re saying the Catholicism is not a cultural bauble or lifestyle accessory. It means something. It means “we believe X and not Y or Z or whatever Nancy Pelosi thinks we ought to believe.” Truth in labeling has to work both ways. If the Church wants to maintain the position that a “Catholic is a Catholic”, then their campaign to define the brand and message is a farce. If being Catholic has no pre-requisite of free will and informed choice, than it’s absurd to demand orthodoxy from them.

    It would be no different if seminaries randomly shanghaied men from local bars and ordained them, including the many who would have no interest in being there, the men who are atheists or wildly heretical etc. The bishops would be tearing their hair out trying to discipline this bunch but would have no logical or spiritual basis upon which to do it. Informed consent is what grounds real authority in any association or brotherhood. You don’t see mutinies in volunteer navies. If everyone there came there of their own choice and agreed to take on the orders they may not agree with, there’s no grounds for rebellion. Back to Catholics, be honest enough to formally acknowledge the departure of those of us honest enough to quit. Focus your formation only on those who want to join for the right reasons sincere beleif, not to get mom, dad, or a spouse off their backs.

  62. Midwestlady says:

    You’re talking about officially leaving the Church by legal means–signing an opt-out and having it served–right Kenneth? Like they do in Austria, I mean.

  63. Midwestlady says:

    All religions inflate their membership numbers. It’s part of gaining and retaining influence in the culture. The Catholic church has issues over and above this, but this is one of the reasons they don’t own up to what’s going on.

  64. Apparently, he is. I’ve been surprised, in the past couple of days, as I’ve talked about thispost at work and otherwise, at how many people who feel like Kenneth, including a judge I work for. HE left as soon as he could, in high school. I understand the need parents feel to bring their children to the faith, but these days, in seems counterproductive.

  65. Fiergenholt says:


    “If the Catholic Church feels that way, then they ought to stop using the number of Baptised Catholics for statistical purposes and rely only on registered parishioners (which would still be a sketchy statistic at best, but would be more accurate than the Baptismal numbers)”

    Odd that you make that statement. I have every reason to believe that the membership statistics provided by the various dioceses/archdioceses (and thus compiled into national data by the USCCB) are based solely on parish registered membership.

    Baptisms, per se, are counted in the data-base’s “Family Listing” only if those children are members of that family who are registered in that parish. If the folks who are baptized are NOT members (or children of the members) of that parish — a rare but real event — they would not be included in that parish’s membership statistics.

    A good example here: in those areas of the country where there are seasonal migrant farm workers, the Catholic parishes in those areas do provide some genuinely phenomenal outreach. One bi-lingual/bi-cultural deacon in the Midwest must hold some kind of record by baptizing 59 migrant children of Tex-Mex heritage in one four-month work season. Their baptismal records are kept locally in parish registry books but none of these families ever become parish residents until — or if — they “settle out.”

  66. Midwestlady says:

    This doesn’t surprise me at all. I think a lot of this sort of thing is going on and I think it’s explanatory of a lot that I see in the Church.

  67. Midwestlady says:

    I don’t doubt what you say. Last year, one of the engineers where I work found out I converted to the church and she asked, incredulously: “Really? Why? She was very dismissive about the whole thing.

    She has gone off to a small protestant church and she likes it much better and is willing to talk about that. She viewed her Catholic upbringing in a very negative way and is quite derisive about it. She’s from an old Italian family.

  68. Midwestlady says:

    Well, kenneth, I’ll tell you: I have no intention of trying to shove anything down your throat. If you want to go, you have that option. You always did, if you want to know the truth. There’s the door.

    But, it’s also important for you to know, that if you’re gone, you’re gone. You don’t have the right to harass those who have made a different decision. You’ve gone out that door, and you can do that, but you can’t run in and out like you never left.

  69. Midwestlady says:

    I have to give her this: She was honest about what she thought anyway. And after the initial conversation, she didn’t give me any more grief about it. None of her business really, and she had sense enough to know that. Again, to her credit.

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