As soon as the pope was elected, many younger American Catholics became hopeful that the role of women in the church would be expanded. Those who were older seemed to be convinced that things would remain the same, much as they always had.
As a Protestant, I have always respected and appreciated Catholicism and tried to learn as much about it as I could. One thing I always found unusual was that whenever I went into a new workplace I could always identify the Protestants from the Catholics. It always seemed to me that the Catholics were more educated about their faith. I envied them for that. I don’t share their attitude about women and see no reason why women should not be appointed to the pulpit. I have through the years met many former nuns who have left their orders because of the loneliness.
Furthermore, I don’t see that priests should not be married any more than other clergymen. I would find it very difficult to believe that unmarried clergymen would be any more faithful than married ones. And like most people, I am appalled by the pedophilia that has allegedly gone on in the church. I think that men who have committed such acts should have been exposed by their leaders and turned over to law enforcement. This is the law we live with, and I see no reason why the guilty should not be subjected to it.
In any case, as I see it, whatever our religion, we all fall short of the mark. And certainly, even when we think we are doing our very best, most of the time we are failing at the task. And of course we are all being accused. My friend, whom we called the Wizard of Oz because she was a member of Mensa, a high-IQ group, and knew everything worth knowing, was a Buddhist. She always claimed that every Christian she knew, including me, coveted her soul. Therefore, whenever I visited her, she insisted that I sleep beneath her statue of the Buddha so that I might be enlightened.
I consider it bad news that as a nation we are becoming less Christian. The fastest growing religion in America is Islam. The major mainline Christian religions are all losing members and only the nondenominational evangelical religions are gaining members. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and Assembly of God churches are growing. And fewer than one in four people claim membership in the Catholic church.
So, for whatever reasons, church-going in America is experiencing a great decline. Yet it seems to me there are more churches than ever, and it seems most pastors want their own church and would not be content sharing church space with others. As I look around at communities, it seems the loss in attendees would encourage more churches into sharing their buildings. But the real question, as far as I’m concerned, would be are we becoming better people?
When I was growing up, everyone I knew went to Sunday school and church. People went to church as families. They attended the same church as their grandmothers and grandfathers. It seemed to me that families were closer then.
Is religion dying? I hope not. There, you see, I said "hope." Where would I be without it?