May 9, 2010

Reshaping the Catholic Church

Catholic Cross Jesus
Catholic Cross Jesus (Photo credit: TheChristianAlert.org)
Philip Jenkins had an interesting article in The New Republic last week addressing the Catholic child rape crises and their likely impact on the church. His conclusion was that while the church will survive these widespread scandals, it will probably end up being reshaped by them. For many of us, the idea of the church surviving is unpleasant. Unfortunately, how it might be reshaped is problematic as well.

Jenkins suggests that the abuse scandals will hasten a shift in the church's power from Europe to Africa and Latin America. The power will endure, but its base will shift. It is a fascinating theory and a well written article that is worth your attention.
Previous abuse scandals, such as those in the United States in the early 2000s, had no obvious effect on Catholic adherence in Europe. Yet the recent allegations, which hit Germany, Ireland, Belgium and other European countries, will resonate deeply on the continent, especially since charges of official negligence seem to reach to the pope himself. The impact will be particularly strong in Western Europe, with its powerful media that are increasingly antagonistic toward the Catholic hierarchy and even the Church itself.
Some other highlights from the article include:
  • By 2050, Africa will have more Catholics than Europe.
  • Some are predicting that as many as 25% of German Catholics are considering leaving the church over the recent abuse scandals.
  • The abuse scandals are expected to have a major impact on the church finances.
  • The abuse scandals will provide effective ammunition for those who want to keep religion out of politics.
  • The abuse scandals are expected to have little impact in Africa and Latin America.
For those following the Catholic church's systematic efforts to conceal child rape by their clergy and enable it to continue, this article will likely be of interest.

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