By Tom Holmes
I receive the following New York Times article from a Catholic friend. Direct quotes are in Italics.
Roman Catholics in the United States say that their church and bishops are out of touch, and that the next pope should lead the church in a more modern direction on issues like birth control and ordaining women and married men as priests, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll.
With cardinals now in Rome preparing to elect Benedict's successor, the poll indicated that the church's hierarchy had lost the confidence and allegiance of many American Catholics, an intensification of a long-term trend. They like their priests and nuns, but many feel that the bishops and cardinals do not understand their lives.
"I don't think they are in the trenches with people," said Therese Spender, 51, a homemaker in Fort Wayne, Ind., who said she attended Mass once a week and agreed to answer further questions after the poll. "They go to a lot of meetings, but they are not out in the street." Even Catholics who frequently attend Mass said they were not following the bishops' lead on issues that the church had recently invested much energy, money and credibility in fighting — artificial birth control and same-sex marriage.
Here's something to think about in this regard. In Christ and Culture H. Richard Niebuhr talks about the different ways that the Christian church has responded to the cultures around them. The poll cited above reveals that many Catholics feel that the church hierarchy is out of touch with modern life. Is that good or bad?
Being "out of touch" might be viewed positively if you believe that a community of faith should always be critical of the culture in which they live, as Jesus was. When I was a kid, there was a kind of blending of culture and the church which was called American Civil Religion, which resulted in the church losing its prophetic ability to speak truth to power.
Being "out of touch," on the other hand, might mean that the church leadership has good communication with NEITHER God nor the everyday lives of its members.
What do you think is going on with the religious leaders of over one billion souls?
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