While the Catholic Church remains the largest denomination nationally and in Minnesota, its membership has dropped sharply since 2000. Minnesota had 1.15 million Catholics in 2010, down 8.7 percent from 1.26 million in 2000.During a decade in which Minnesota's Hispanic population almost doubled, the state's Mystical Body of Christ nonetheless nosedived. St. Patrick's--where I kneel, eying my Kindle--is noticeably older and sparser than it used to be.
Catholic affiliation will continue to decline, as the institution can't credibly embrace (to use local examples) strumming and squinting, Leith Anderson's honey-voiced corporatist shtick or Grace's Premillennialist weirdness. Rose French writes:
The clergy sex abuse scandal in the Catholic Church is a likely factor behind its membership decline, Thumma and other religious scholars note.There's more to it. The Church's theological assertions are not remotely credible--and the Mass is extremely boring, for many.
An institution claiming a monopoly on identifying the universe's central truths gets there by insisting half of humanity be forever barred from any position of leadership. Once this was widely accepted, then people started to think it unjust. Now many consider it stupid and not worthy of effort to reform.
In the days of yore, the Church judged you. Increasingly--in part due to today's bourgeois culture of flattery-exchange, often lambasted here--people feel freer to judge the church, less inclined to attribute dissatisfaction to their own ostensible depravity.
The experience of participating in a Catholic church is exceptionally insulting to the individual; the church member has almost no opportunity to participate critically. You have to be willing to be led by stupid people. Without polling Catholic congregants,
The Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis says it contributed $650,000 last year to support a proposed constitutional amendment that would ban gay marriage.The Catholic Church's options aren't at all easy. Were the Church to democratize, reverse its soup-to-nuts misogyny and sex terror, dispense with its false teachings, make the Mass less soporific etc., it wouldn't be the Catholic Church--and membership would continue to decline.
To the above-noted contradictions, a rearguard alternative is proposed--exemplified locally by Providence Academy and St. Agnes--where we try to practice yesterday's Catholicism, implicitly acknowledging reform is impossible. (At least it looks more authentic and aesthetically pleasing.) Disneyfication will not work either, I'm quite sure.