Saturday, February 07, 2015

Pope Francis gets some things right, Anglicans aren't Catholic, and Orthodox kids don't stick around

  • The Pope: he's goofy but he's Catholic. Not the best Pope but he'd probably be a great parish priest.
  • Anglicans aren't. A born evangelical who passed through Anglicanism, Fr. Longenecker nails it. Why to this aspiring Anglo-Catholic many years ago, women's ordination was a punch in the gut. The $64,000 questions are do Anglicans have a set of doctrine to fall back on and on whose authority? Articles XIX and XXI curse the Catholic Church as far as I'm concerned (they posit a fallible thus fungible church, so there's nothing stopping women priests and gay marriage), so I'm with the church. Some Anglicans have agreed with the church, thus pointing the way into it for me and others, but that was their opinion, not really Anglicanism, even if they thought it was.
  • A Greek-American Orthodox bishop wonders why they're losing their young. 6 out of 10 of their college kids drop their religion. The Greek Catholics (who are mostly Slavic) here have the same problem. I'd love it if the dominant Catholicism in America were Byzantine, not Novus Ordo, but it just isn't happening. It's not the demon Interwebs' fault either, Bishop. You've got an ethnic club for the elderly (pretty much true of American Byzantine Catholicism too) with a few hobby converts. When you mistake your tribe, however good that tribe is, for the universal church, you're doomed.


  1. Stir the pot, Beelz, ROFL - stir the pot!
    p.s. - the Eastern churches do have this issue, as do ALL Christian congregations.

    1. Ha ha; thanks. You're right but as you and other regular readers know, I don't think Roman Rite Catholicism will disappear in America. It will keep shrinking and will bottom out. It will remain because it used to be so big it defined the culture in some places (such as New York, Philadelphia, and Chicago). Eastern-rite Christianity might not have a future here. I'm not wishing for that. It just is.

  2. Anonymous8:18 am

    I'd be curious to know what the stats are for the Romans. Probably today it's similar but slightly better, probably over the last generation it was as bad or worse, especially from the ethnic parishes.

    In my city of 16,000, if I count right, only 30 years ago there were five Roman parishes - two Irish, and one each Polish, Italian, and French. There may have been a sixth non-ethnic parish, they've merged and re-merged so much, it's hard to keep track.

    As of today, there are two. The grand churches are closed, they kept the one with the best parking. Other than that one, the Polish church soldiers on, with its identity intact.

    I can't speak for the Orthodox. But considering the Greek Catholics don't have massive immigration to prop them up like the Latins do, and due to their uncommonness are under even more pressure to sell out than the Latins are, I think it's downright miraculous that the Greek Catholics exist here at all!

    Somewhere, the late Fr. Hal Stockert wrote something to the effect that God must have a plan for the ECCs in America, because there is no *purely human* way they could have endured all the abuse and setbacks they have taken here.

    1. "The Romans." That takes me back to my Anglican beginnings. It sounds snobbish, which it partly is, but high churchmen use it to claim "we're Catholic too."

      Anyway, the rough picture I have is our American numbers are artificially high thanks to Mexican immigration, which doesn't really help the church much because many of them don't go to Mass, they're not institutional church-builders like the Irish were, and many of them don't remain Catholic. Thanks to Vatican II and the rest of the Sixties (how's that "renewal" working out for youse?), our white ethnic base is cratering much like the Orthodox and the mainline Protestants: we're declining and will bottom out as I wrote to tubbs above. The church is collapsing in our old base, the Northeast; the Archdiocese of Philadelphia is closing and merging parishes as you describe.

      An acquaintance recently brought up to me that this is why the archbishops of Baltimore (which should be our primatial see, because it's America's first) aren't made cardinals anymore. In Philadelphia, Archbishop Chaput might not get that honor. Those archdioceses are too small now.

      People elsewhere in the country tell me the church is doing well. I can't confirm that.

      Interesting that there was no big post-Soviet immigration to revive the Ukrainian Catholic Church here. Their story in America comes in two parts: laborers who came in the late 1800s until World War I (some of whom went into schism, becoming Slavic-American Orthodoxy), and 1940s refugees from World War II and the Soviet occupation of Galicia, some of whom I used to know, the first East Slavs and Eastern Christians I met. (My first traditional Catholic liturgy, 30 years ago, was Ukrainian.)

      Again I wish the Greek Catholics here only good, and they are always an option to get away from the Novus Ordo and local parish abuses (conservative refugees from the Roman Rite have kept a few parishes open), but I don't think they have a future here.

    2. Well, Latin America is now about 30% Evangelical Protestant, so why do you expect them to remain Catholic in the Protestant US?

      The times aren't good for the Unia in their traditional homleand. Ukrainian Greek Catholics are waning in their homeland, only about 56% of inhabitants of "Galicja" are now Greek Catholic, (while in 1939, they were 44% Greek Catholic, 48% Roman Catholic, 8% Jewish, ) the other 40% are Orthodox, 2-5% Roman Catholic.

    3. Thanks for the report on the Unia in the Ukraine. I wondered about that. I'd read someplace that Galicia recently was about 80% Greek Catholic; I'd always wondered how devout they were. In 1939, wasn't much of that area (Lwów, for example) Polish in population as well as politically? That would explain the low Greek Catholic and high Roman Catholic numbers then. I had no illusions about the Ukraine as a whole being religious; like Russia proper it's a lot of completely unchurched people against a historic backdrop of Orthodoxy with most of the churchgoing small minority being Orthodox, in the Ukraine split about evenly between the official Orthodox church, which is Russian (under Moscow), and at least two nationalist schisms such as the Kyiv Patriarchate.

      For other readers: from the late Middle Ages until the USSR stole it in World War II, the Ukrainian Greek Catholic homeland, Galicia in the far west, wasn't part of the Russian Ukraine; it was part of Poland.

  3. Father Stockert is dead??? I had no idea. RIP!

    1. He was found dead on his livingroom sofa on the morning of Ascension Day, May 29, 2014; the last person to speak with him had a telephone conversation with him the previous afternoon. I visited him on 23-24 May: he had been taken to the hospital in Glens Falls, NY, on the morning of the 23rd, suffering from dehydration and tachycardia, both old health problems of his, so I stayed at his Rectory and fed his cats. He texted me on the 26th that he had been released and sent home; I wasn't able to speak with him subsequently before his death, but I later learned from an old friend of his who had done so that he had spoken in such a way as to indicate, if obscurely, that he did not believe that he had long to live. In July 2014 I was able to visit his grave in the Byzantine Catholic cemetery in Granville, NY.


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