Up | February 17, 2013
>>> this is a newsletter from catholic president bill donohue talking -- catholic league president bill donohue . we don't live in that world thankfully. everyone of course is entitled to off fer advice but those who are no longer practicing catholics or who never were cannot expect a serious hearing. this has to be said now because over the next several monthser with like try to witness an explosion in voyeurism. catholics feel besieged, feeling misunderstood or they are taunting or, you know, bias from the media. my father thinks the church gets a raw deal . in some way this relates to the question how the church is outward facing and how it relates to the fact its membership is declining and i wonder if someone who is involved in the life of the church on a very daily basis like how do you understand that decline?
>> well i'm not sure that actually in absolute terms it's declining but with particular sociocultural groups it's declining. i think competition for people's attention and the secularization of the intellectual life you go through that and you wonder does it make sense to believe in this faith, in any faith. so that's true for north america , for western europe as a matter of intellectual history , and i'm not sure it's easily generalizable across other cultures. what do you think?
>> in my experience people that i see that no longer go don't find relevance in the church . they go church , they hear homilies that they don't fed by. sometimes it's an emphasis on law, sometimes it's a consciousness homily.
>> you don't think if i open up with a story of my summer camp .
>> people go wanting to hold on to something for the week, something they can model their lives on, something that relates. i think at times and perhaps it's the decline of the intellectual life as well, there's an inability to hold attention in a complex discussion where there's multiif a seated issues and we might not agree with each other but we can be stretched by our mutual understanding.
>> as a liberal and someone who comes out of the tradition of the church and is quite intellectual and concerned with the life of the mind is appealing to me and part of my relationship with the church is that. michael makes a point complexity is not the thing that's driving religious growth around the world. devotion, faith of the most straightforward way and i don't mean to over simplify people's spiritual lives. but complexity and holding tension is not a thing that's driving religious devotion around the world.
>> i left the church as a teenager. i grew up in this church that was constantly trying to experiment. okay we'll try folk music this week. we're going to do some sermons on young arch types. now we're comparing the sacraments. it was just ludicrous. i was impressed by either atheyism or evangelicalism.
>> go all in.
>> came to a point what is the catholic church good for unless you believe the tomb was empty on sunday, jesus christ is the risen lord and you want to get to heaven. that's what drew me back to the church . it wasn't necessarily a political conversation or a kind of indulgence in the intellect. it is who am i? who is he? i want to be in his church even with all these evil people that are in it, these mediocre people that are in it.
>> can the pep be held responsible -- what should the pope be held responsible for when we talk about the growth or decline of the church . how much much that can be laid at the pope's feet?
>> the purpose of a religion is to help people make sense of the big questions , the questions that none of us have answers to. why are we here, where are we going, why do we suffer, what happens after death. it's important a church or any religion engage with its people and meet them where they are. it's to help people find meaning. when a religion stops helping people find meaning people will turn to consumerism, to culture, and the pope is so busy declaring our culture, the culture of death , you know, putting the responsibility on us.
>> you are laying this on the pope's feet. you're saying this person that comes out of cdf and the person who was the chief theologian is alienating the flock in the u.s. and europe where church membership as decline.
>> he and the hierarchy of a. they have denied the crisis in the priesthood.
>> i think it's doctrinal declarations are beautiful. they are out of time. it's precisely the crisis we haven't addressed. i was with some priests at dinner the other night teaching at a catholic university , living in a religious community and one of them said, you know, people just can't believe in these guys who wear these robes and it's easy to mock the clerical garb especially the dresses bishops are said to wear. nobody says that about the daili lama. why is that? there's all kind of reasons. if the people wearing clerical robes handle or mishand tell crisis in the way that they have, misunderstand their own role in it, right, what is driving people away from the church is not that priests have molested as horrible that is, or child rape. i'm not saying people don't care about that. what makes them leave the church isn't that there are some preechts who have done that it's because we imagine they are sick people and there's only so much you can do to get rid of sick people. what's the defense of bishops who didn't respond in a robust muscular and transparent way to deal with that. that's where the crisis in faith is. that's what makes the robe seem bad. what's the great moment of grace in benedict's resignation is he's saying it's not the occupant of the robes, it's the office that matters. and that needs to be extended much further.
>> i'm glad that you cued that up. i've done a lot of reporting on this church 's sexual abuse scandal. i want to talk about that next. the reason why i want to push that off it's the only thing we talk about. there's no escaping it it is so central to the way we understand and i think people of faith also understand it. so i want to talk about that. i want to talk about a few of the cardinals who are voting on the next pope and what their record is on this