“On closer inspection French Catholicism is not dead, but it is splintering to the point where the centre barely holds. The brightest flickers are on the fringes: individuals like Abbé Pierre, founder of the Emmaus movement for the homeless; “charismatics” whose style draws on Pentecostalism, and traditionalists who love Latin rites and processions. Meanwhile, the church’s relatively liberal mainstream is almost in free fall. As conservatives like Abbé Francis see it, it is largely the liberals’ own fault: “They keep selling and closing properties, while we [traditionalists] are busy building and restoring.””
“But in many European places where Catholicism remained all-powerful until say, 1960, the church is losing whatever remains of its grip on society at an accelerating pace. The drop in active adherence to, and knowledge of, Christianity is a long-running and gentle trend; but the hollowing out of church structures—parishes, monasteries, schools, universities, charities—is more dramatic. That is the backdrop against which the paedophile scandal, now raging across Europe after its explosion in the United States, has to be understood.”
“But Italians are less pious than they pretend. A study of central Sicily, published this year, found that only 18% of people actually went to church, although 30% said they did. And the Eurispes study of Italy found that 66% backed liberal divorce laws and 38% supported euthanasia. Only 19% favoured abortion on demand, but 65% could accept the practice in cases of rape”.
“The pope’s defenders—like Giovanni Maria Vian, editor of the Vatican daily, L’Osservatore Romano—would insist that Pope Benedict does believe in human freedom: he would prefer a small church of freely committed believers than a giant flock herded in by custom or constraint.”
Hat Tip: rorate-caeli.blogspot.com/