The Roman Catholic Church faces a batch of problems; Pope Francis must feel like a spinning compass, hardly knowing which direction to head next. The Second Vatican Council was supposed to have resolved the Church’s quandary; it only exacerbated it.
While doing well in the uh, ‘developing’ countries, the Church is dying in its natal Western Europe and North America. Though born in the Middle East, the Church grew up in Europe and may die there as well. Or not. But in any case, events in the West are changing the Church; it will never be quite the same again, at least not while we are present to see it.
Pope Francis must swing from African bishops presiding over traditional parishes to South American clergy full of socialistic social justice to North American and European Catholics who practice birth control and non-marital sex as a matter of course. In the United States, the government, whose chief, President Obama recently met with the Pops, is actively attacking long held Catholic beliefs on birth control, abortion and homosexuality with legislation and court decisions. And Catholics are traditionally supporters of President Obama’s Democratic party. What’s a Pope to do, when his troops are aligned behind an avowed enemy?
With an eerie reflection of Sodom and Gomorrah, today’s Western population, heretofore Christian, has lined up behind birth control, abortion, divorce, free sex and now towards euthanasia with far fewer seeking careers in the clergy. Marriage, previously a sacrament, is becoming the prerogative of homosexuals with government approval. Western society is supporting government in a very fundamental attack on Roman Catholicism while a significant percentage cling to self-identification as Catholics. That is clearly a house of cards that the Pope will not wish to collapse.
Most of American Protestantism has collapsed, giving up its Biblical beliefs in favor of “going along to get along” and thus, dissolving from political power in favor of government. The Catholic bishops have been very quiet, suppressed under a cloud of pederasty accusations and unwilling to take on the government directly with so many of the’faithful’ anything but.
Now, with its Obamacare mandate for compulsory birth control and abortion services by employers and its increasing approval of gay marriage, the U.S. government has in essence, told the Church who is in charge and demanded obedience. There has been little reaction from the Church but a few court cases and tepid homilies from some pastors.
If the Church is to have a future in the West, it seems time for it to react, It will continue to lose advocates in any case. That is the price of standing for something of value. But following Protestant accommodation has a price too: irrelevancy. Where are the American Protestants today? Few know and fewer care, outside of remaining fundamentalists. And the American Catholics seem on that same road, though not so far advanced.
Pope Francis has asked for a dialogue on marriage and family in today’s world, something much needed and late in coming. We will have to see the result. The Church, an: “anvil that has worn out many hammers” has been with us for some 2,000 of years; we aren’t counting it out here. But it is time and past time for it to stand up and clearly state what it is, and what it isn’t. Its members will have to do the same for themselves.