William D. Lindsey
Is it just me, or do things feel really depressed right now, following the big papal circus of the day of the four popes? I had thought that the big papal circus was designed to have precisely the opposite effect. As Susan Jacoby rightly notes,
The dual canonization is an attempt to please the traditional Catholic base while luring back some among the millions of who have left the church in what was once Christendom’s western bastion.
Jacoby had previously explained the point about “luring back some among the millions who have left the church in what was once Christendom’s western bastion” by noting,
It is no accident that during John Paul’s conservative papacy — when the church refused to reconsider sexual prohibitions applying to the laity but covered up sexual abuse of children by priests — millions of practicing Catholics decamped in the United States and Western Europe. According to a Pew poll conducted in 2009, more than one out of five native-born Americans raised in the church no longer consider themselves Catholics.
And so as she notes that the dual canonization is being sold by media spin-doctors as an adroit way for Pope Francis to heal the divisions in the church and bring back many who have strayed, she observes:
It is difficult to imagine, though, that Catholics who no longer consider themselves Catholics are likely to return to a church that still condemns divorce, artificial birth control, in vitro fertilization, abortion for any reason and gay unions. Moreover, if the church continues to require priestly celibacy and refuses to consider the ordination of women (Francis has already reiterated his support for the latter policy), there will continue to be a severe priest shortage.
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