Wednesday, July 2

Garry Wills reviews Phillip Jenkins' book on anti-Catholicism

Now he says that there is a new anti-Catholicism. Actually, there has never been a time in our history when there was more religious toleration than now - toward Catholics, Jews, Mormons, and Muslims. This is part of the civil rights revolution that has made us aware of the rights of all people - including women, minorities, gays, the disabled. Jenkins performs a three-step operation to get around this obvious fact. First, he parades the lengthy anti-Catholic record of Protestant America in the past, which is undeniable. Second, he scouts up some fringe anti-Catholic remnants of that prejudice from recent times. (There are such remnants of anti-Jewish, anti-Mormon prejudice, too, which in no way controvert the general new toleration.) Third, he takes the internal criticism of Catholics trying to reform their church and equates it with the first two. This is like taking the rabid anti-American statements of Chinese communists and equating them with the criticisms of the Vietnam War raised by loyal Americans who disagreed with their government on that venture.

Catholic women like Maureen Dowd and Anna Quindlen, who criticize the hierarchy's attitude toward their gender, are by such tactics made to resemble Protestants in the past who burned convents. All those who criticize the hierarchy are called by Jenkins anti-Catholic Catholics. Well, by that definition, most American Catholics are anti-Catholic. By his own account, 80 percent of us disagree with the pope on contraception - and that is understating the matter. According to the best, deepest, most extensive poll of Catholics under the age of 40, financed by the Lily Foundation, those agreeing with the pope on this subject are statistically nonexistent, since their number would fall within the margin of error. A majority of Catholics supports the marriage of priests, the ordination of women, and freedom of conscience on sexual maters. Jenkins may disapprove of such positions held by Catholics, but to dismiss such Catholics by calling them anti-Catholic reduces him to saying that the only Catholics left in America are - anti-Catholic. That is a fact not usefully explained by equating it with the vicious past hatred of Catholics by non-Catholics. It might be better compared with the patriotism of Americans who love their country but criticize their government.

A summary of Jenkins' book, in case you're not familiar with it.

Megachurches still growing, buying up property

Christ Church finds itself in step with other rapidly growing congregations known as megachurches that need space to expand. They are buying unlikely places like large food stores, shopping centers, armories and, in the case of Faithful Central Bible Church in Los Angeles, the former Great Western Forum where the Lakers and the Kings basketball teams played until 1999. As defined by John N. Vaughan, a researcher, megachurches, which are largely conservative Protestant, are as those that attract at least 2,000 worshipers a week.In New Jersey, one such church, Faith Fellowship Ministries World Outreach Center, a charismatic congregation of 3,600 families, began moving from Edison in 1996 and built a 2,900-seat sanctuary on a 14-acre site in Sayreville that was once used by Public Service Electric and Gas Company as a training center.

The proposed Christ Church campus on Green Pond Road here would house administrative offices, an elementary school, a gymnasium and fitness center, a banquet hall, a small religious museum, a gift shop, a school of performing arts, a computer learning center, a center for adult leadership development courses and a community development corporation that is using a $120,000 grant from President Bush's faith initiative program for a program to help teenagers be sexually abstinent. The new sanctuary would feature stadium seating, and the gym and fitness center, baseball and soccer fields, basketball and tennis courts would be open to the community, Dr. Ireland said.

Good article about picking bishops for Boston - past and present - and what drives the choices.

Pro-bishop Catholics in Dallas start their own website

Bishop stay!

Bishop Go!

A very interesting twist on our language discussion of last week:

Spanish language Pentecostal churches find that younger people want their services in English

Attendance at many Pentecostal churches in the New York metropolitan region is dropping, church officials say, as more young people insist on speaking English, despite maintaining an intense relationship to Hispanic culture.As a result, Monte Sion and others are reversing the reason they were founded in the 1950's, when large groups of people arriving from Puerto Rico were eager to find religious services in their own language, and are managing to survive, and even thrive, by giving English equal billing.

Taking that step has not always been easy. In some cases, the English speakers have splintered off and formed a richer and more lively congregation. But older worshipers, and the ruling body of the Pentecostal church, worry about the loss of the language that had offered a safe harbor for newcomers half a century ago.

Orlando's new coadjutor

Wenski will start his job in the nine-county diocese Aug. 22. Officially, he has been appointed Orlando's coadjutor bishop, which means he will work with the 73-year-old Dorsey until the bishop retires. The Vatican requires all bishops to submit their resignations at age 75, but not all are immediately accepted."Then it's up to the Holy Father," Dorsey said. "I am tiring. I am getting older. I'm doing the best I can."Wenski has made his mark in Miami, and in the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, as an advocate for the rights of immigrants and the poor. He also heads the Miami Archdiocese's Catholic Charities.

O'Malley's first day

O'Malley's first day as archbishop-elect was filled with the symbols of his priorities, beginning with Mass and ending with a visit to the sick at Caritas St. Elizabeth's Medical Center. In between came a press conference at which he addressed himself directly to priests, laypeople, and disenfranchised Catholics and a private meeting with a dozen people harmed by clergy sexual abuse.

New Palm Beach bishop vows he'll stick around


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