Orthodox Catholics, Cafeteria Catholics: Signs of Crisis and Signs of Hope

The future of the U.S. Catholic Church is not assured. The number of ordained priests must increase. And much will depend on how these new priests pastor to their congregants. The battles between Orthodox Catholics and Cafeteria Catholics will either intensify or diminish -- depending on whether the sides can find common ground, or whether the issues that enervated the disagreements in the first place no longer have merit. Certainly, the influx of Catholic immigrants gives the Church a new vitality that cannot be taken for granted (witness the rise of Hispanic evangelicals). Yet there is more light than darkness, more hope than pessimism, that the U.S. Catholic Church will adapt to a new century and, once again, attract new congregants to the diminished numbers sitting in the pews.

 

John Kenneth White is a professor of politics at the Catholic University of America and is the author of Barack Obama's America:  How New Conceptions of Race, Family, and Religion Ended the Reagan Era published by the University of Michigan Press.

7/19/2010 4:00:00 AM
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