Sunday, July 31, 2005

Drop In A Bucket

At least, that's how I'm looking at American Catholics today. Previously, my view was that -- with a 67 million of us -- we represented a promising voice (and a critical mass) that could have a positive impact on the future of the Church.

Today, it feels like 67 million may be a tiny drop in the bucket. Why the change in perspective? Check out this article at WorldWide Religious News about the Pope's observation that mainstream churches (including Catholic ones) are dying in the West. Yeah. Church attendance across the North America and Europe is down. That's no surprise.

What's a Church to do? First, look for someone to blame.
The Pope blamed a change in social attitudes in the 1960s for the Church's decline in the West, referring to what he termed a "second enlightenment" of 1968, the year of the so-called 'summer of love' and student and worker protests.
Second, look for opportunity.
Benedict said many developing countries were, by contrast, enjoying a "a springtime for faith."
Imagining the Vatican's "strategic business plan", I could see a focus on building a presence in South America, Africa and Asia. U.S., Canada and Europe might fall under a "milk the cash cow" initiative. (I can see a note in the margins: "Who needs 'em.")

With 67 million Catholics in the U.S. -- maybe double that if you include Canada and Europe, the "Catholic Cash Cow" represents almost 15% of the whole. While some may see that as a tidy sum, as the Holy See shifts its focus to developing countries, that 15% may be just a drop in the bucket.


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