Feeling Under Siege, Catholic Leadership Shifts Right
John Gehring, FPL’s Senior Writer and Catholic Outreach Coordinator, is quote in this article.
Polls show that one-third of people raised Catholic no longer attends church.
That may not be a bad thing, says Bill Donohue, president of the conservative Catholic League and author of Why Catholicism Matters.
Donohue notes that Pope Benedict XVI has intimated that a smaller, more orthodox church might be better anyway. If people are so dissatisfied, Donohue says, why don’t they just join a liberal denomination, like the Episcopalians?
“I think for a long time, what I would consider the base of Catholic Church — the ones who practice, who go to church regularly and who pay the bills, generally of a more conservative stripe — we feel like we’ve been neglected,” Donohue says. “And now we feel like, ‘Hey, maybe our time has come.’ ”
It certainly feels that way to John Gehring, a church-attending Catholic who works for the progressive advocacy group Faith in Public Life. Gehring says the Church he loves used to care as much about poverty and social justice as sexuality.
“I believe in a ‘big tent’ Catholicism, where liberals and moderates and conservatives can get along,” Gehring says. “We share a faith, we share rituals, we break bread together. But this is as much my church as it is Bill Donohue’s church.”
And so Gehring plans to stay — and hopes that one day, the pendulum will swing back his way.