A survey suggests something about our Catholic identity

Since I have barely been online for some days, I just found out about an article by Laurie Goodstein of the NYT about a study done by the Abu Dhabi Gallup Center, a Muslim group, about how people of various religions identify with their religion, co-religionists, country and countrymen.

The report itself is worth some of your time.

Since I talk all the time about our Catholic identity and revitalizing our identity I found this pretty interesting.  Of course it focuses mainly on Muslims, but there are stats about Catholics as well.

The result I found most interesting had to do with how strongly Catholics identify with each of the following groups? A. The United States B. Your ethnic background C. Your religion D. Those worldwide who share your religious identity Muslim Americans.  The result: 39% of Catholics identity with other Catholics around the world.

First, I wonder what that number would be in, say, England, where Catholics experience a different social dynamic than American Catholics have.

And I continue to wonder.

If we had done what the Second Vatican Council asked for in a reform of the liturgy and if we had continued to use Latin and had placed Gregorian chant in the first place for music…  could that number in the U.S. have been higher than 39%?

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17 Responses to A survey suggests something about our Catholic identity

  1. Faith says:

    Mormons are doing very well. They must be doing something right.

  2. Di says:

    I believe it would.
    I have often wondered and asked my mom’s friends “How did you accept the new Mass, it looks nothing like what we have today”. I often wonder the difference it would have made had they fought to keep the Latin Mass and all of It’s reverence, the difference it would have made to my generation. Father I think many my age want what our parents experienced, and I have been told by many a priest it will never happen in my life time. I am struggling now because I am feeling a pull to go to the Latin Mass although I have only been there once, but my husband says he will not go with me. I keep praying for him to change his mind, if not I feel I will shortly be going to the Latin Mass alone.
    Please keep me in your prayers as you are in mine.
    God Bless,
    Di

  3. bmadamsberry says:

    I think it would increase the number, but not significantly. The poll isn’t just dealing with the Catholic Church in general, but the Catholic Church in the U.S. Americans in general, and Catholics in American in particular, usually only think in an American-centrist kind of way. Every action of the Vatican, it seems, has something to do with America (totally forgetting about the other countries that it might have to deal with). John Allen, Jr., spoke about this in “All the Pope’s Men.”

    So it’s not just the fact that we no longer use a singular language in the Novus Ordo (though, again, I think it would increase the percentage a little- say 10%?). Largely, I think the problem is similar to what you seemed to identify in your comment about English Catholics. American Catholics think that everything that happens in the Catholic world revolves around us.

  4. Jeremiah says:

    Agreed, bmadamsberry, there is a definite ego in the Church in America. The other thing is that in America, we are strongly, strongly influenced by out nations Protestant history, and its anti-monarchical history.

    A number of the popularly held beliefs, and even practices, that many Catholics have are more Protestant than they are Catholic, and to top it off we’ve been taught all of out lives that absolute authority is not good, so there can be a certain recoil when (perceivedly) “some old man in Rome makes a blanket declaration without getting to know me first.”

    That certainly cannot help our identification with other Catholics around the world.

  5. bmadamsberry says:

    @Jeremiah:
    That’s another good point! The Protestant communities certainly don’t have a sense of the universal. That sounds surprising considering they’re very concentrated on missionary work. But I believe there is a little of a disconnect between the missionary work and the actual church (church used here as the building and small community, not as a large body of Christians). Maybe it was just the Protestant community I used to belong to, but there isn’t a sense of the universal aspect.

  6. chironomo says:

    Indeed. I think that Americans have a problem with the idea of any kind of absolute authority being benevolent, citing instances of abuse and corruption as proof that the authority is the problem rather than those weilding it in a particular instance. Historically, I would think that Europeans have developed a sort of ability to distinguish between “The Monarchy” and individual Monarchs who are currently in power. By contrast, Americans are steeped in the concept of overthrowing any kind of monarchical rule and/or authority that doesn’t originate from their consent. I would point to the recent debate over the new translation as a good example of this. No consultation was good enough unless it was consultation with ME!

  7. ladykathryn says:

    I think that even without the Second Vatican Council, the American Catholic Church would still be in trouble. We Catholics have been, and continue to be, little different from mainstream America. We have deeply drunk from the cup of materialism and have allowed Catholic culture to atrophy.

    I have been reading Michael D. O’Brien’s “Harry Potter and the Paganization of Culture” and I can not get past this statement on pg. 150:
    “…but the truth is, the continuing spread of what John Paul II has called “the culture of death” and Benedict XVI has called “the dictatorship of moral relativism” has been made possible because Christians have not lived as signs of contradiction to the rise of materialism. Instead, we have cooperated with it extensively, consuming its diseased fruits and funding it generously, while authentic Christian culture has been left comparatively undeveloped.”

    I am trying to think through this statement and wonder if it is possible to be fully American and fully Catholic. I am only just beginning to consider this and I am not of the sort as to be able to debate a point even on a good day. So I can not explain myself well. Does any of this strike a cord with you?

  8. jbas says:

    Our Eastern brethren seem to have a clearer sense of belonging to a global Catholic culture than we Western Catholics. It’s not Latin and Gregorian chant for them, but there is a more profound ritual continuity from nation to nation and generation to generation. Not only do we not treasure our liturgical heritage, most Westerners seem to have disdain for it. I suppose we need to relearn the role of the Holy Ghost in liturgical development first, and then see Latin, Gregorian chant, ad orientem, celibate ministers of the altar, etc. as fruits of His labors in the West rather than faded fancies of history.

  9. APX says:

    @Faith
    Mormons are doing very well. They must be doing something right.

    Having spent the past four years living in the Mormon capital of Canada, and having several several Mormon friends, I can honestly say there’s a HUGE LDS identity. I can practically point out the Mormons on the streets, know who’s Mormon just by how they conduct themselves and talk, and by what they drive (Commonly referred to as a “BMW” a “Big Mormon Wagon”).

    They’re theology is completely out of whack, but I don’t think anyone can deny their strong sense of identity and that most of them are more than willing to follow their beliefs out of the love of God. Could you imagine requiring young Catholic men to pay for their own missionary in some other country, leave their families behind and go find new converts? LDS men look forward to this, and families find it most honorable.

    That said, I do think it’s a lot easier to be Mormon than to be Catholic. Mormons have a lot of supports set up, and always seem to have something going on. Mormons don’t just go to their Sunday services, but they attend classes as well on Sundays. They teach young women life skills, and how to be good virtuous women, and teach men how to be men. Everything is set up for young singles to meet other young single Mormons to get married, and to have tonnes of children.

    One thing that I’m not sure too many people realize is that on Sundays, what’s preached at one meeting house is being preached in all meeting houses. No bishop preaches his own sermons, but preaches what he’s sent from Utah. It’s not all wishy-washy like it is with Catholicism where I can go to the Saturday Vigil Mass and hear a homily on one thing, and then go to Mass somewhere else on Sunday and hear a homily that contradicts what I just heard the night before even though all the readings are the same.

  10. Jeremiah says:

    @ladykathryn
    The biggest problem with determining whether one can be fully Catholic and fully American is that I don’t know that anyone knows what it means to be an American. It does bear consideration, though, when what now seems to be considered the ideal American life is spent in pursuit of money and status.

  11. JBAS,
    I wish that your statement would reflect the reality of the condition of the Eastern Churchin America. Unfortunately the same malaise that afflicts the Roman Catholic Church afflicts us as well, with the exception being our liturgical life. There seems to be a great disconnect in the US with our parish life and the espousal of the moral imperatives of the Gospel. Fortunately we have some no Bishops who are rising to the task by seeking to help our people to reflect on the moral fiber of Orthodoxy and not frame it in the mindset of American materialism and relativism. Perhaps that is why we are witnessing an unfolding of a new openness between the Russian Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic. It is amazing for me to observe the similarities between Pope Benedict and Metropolitan Hilarion. Similar personalities, humble demeanor, and great intellectual efforts guided by their lives of prayer. This situation bodes well for all of us.

  12. robtbrown says:

    Di says:

    I have often wondered and asked my mom’s friends “How did you accept the new Mass, it looks nothing like what we have today”. I often wonder the difference it would have made had they fought to keep the Latin Mass and all of It’s reverence, the difference it would have made to my generation.

    We already know the answer. Those who “fought to keep the Latin mass” were marginalized and persecuted. When PVI was pope, he began a yearly audience with Rome’s gypsies. On the other hand, when a group of Catholics who wanted the Latin mass, came to Rome on pilgrimage, and requested an audience with him, he refused.

  13. robtbrown says:

    ladykathryn says:

    I think that even without the Second Vatican Council, the American Catholic Church would still be in trouble. We Catholics have been, and continue to be, little different from mainstream America. We have deeply drunk from the cup of materialism and have allowed Catholic culture to atrophy.

    Disagree. Before Paul VI’s liberal buddies destroyed Catholic life, it was commonly thought that by the year 2000 Catholics would be in the majority in the US.

  14. ray from mn says:

    Another poll said that 70% of Catholics don’t attend Mass on Sundays on a regularly basis. If you don’t attend Mass regularly and probably never attend church functions outside of Mass designed to educate you in the faith, how could you possibly relate to other Catholics around your community, let alone around the world?

  15. robtbrown says: Before Paul VI’s liberal buddies destroyed Catholic life, it was commonly thought that by the year 2000 Catholics would be in the majority in the US.

    Ah, but don’t forget a sinister trend that was already under way by the time Paul VI came along: Catholics’ rejection of the Church’s teaching on contraceptives. There is the source of much of the destruction of Catholic life: everything Paul VI predicted in Humanae vitae has come to pass.

  16. robtbrown says:

    Miss Anita Moore, O.P. says:

    robtbrown says: Before Paul VI’s liberal buddies destroyed Catholic life, it was commonly thought that by the year 2000 Catholics would be in the majority in the US.

    Ah, but don’t forget a sinister trend that was already under way by the time Paul VI came along: Catholics’ rejection of the Church’s teaching on contraceptives. There is the source of much of the destruction of Catholic life: everything Paul VI predicted in Humanae vitae has come to pass.

    After the promulgation of HV, there was organized clerical dissent in DC. Cardinal O’Boyle moved to suspend those priests. When the Vatican began to be involved, the Cardinal is said to have passed along this message: If you don’t back me on this matter, you can forget about moral theology in the US for the next 50 years. Well, the Vatican did not back him. A document came from the Cong of the Clergy, directed by Paul VI, saying that the priests were wrong, but that they were to be reinstated without issuing any statement backing HV. If memory serves, the document can be found in “Vatican II Vol II: More Post-Conciliar Documents”. (I think all the priests later left the priesthood anyway.)

  17. LisaP. says:

    I think another factor, a huge one, with LDS is that they are still largely extremely persecuted. When the world is against you, you can either give up who you are and join the world, or you can tuck in closer to the community you belong to. There’s no real reason for LDS to have a lot committed to other groups, because those other groups have made it pretty clear that they’ll throw Mormons under the bus the first time it comes up.

    The problem with Catholics and identity is that we don’t need each other. Or we think we don’t.