Some months back, I signed up for an email newsletter from The Catholic Thing. The newsletter now arrives promptly every morning at 5AM and contains the lead-in to an article of some relevance to the Catholic Church. If I find the article interesting, I click on the link in the email and the entire article, usually less than 1000 words, loads in my browser. I find the articles interesting.
Each day’s article reflects a conservative view of Catholicism, which I find appealing. We can argue about whether that makes me a conservative politically, but I think the point is irrelevant. I grew up Catholic, and when I was much younger I wanted to become a Catholic priest. So it is not unreasonable that I would tend to favor a more conservative version of Catholicism, even though, ironically, I am an atheist.
Indeed, around Christmas time, I think about going to a Catholic mass on Christmas Eve. But then I change my mind because I remember how the Church has changed. Gone is the solemn service, the organ music, the traditional choir, the smell of incense. Now some stupid band or guitar player and singer will perform “modern” folk music. So I stay away.
Thus, The Catholic Thing speaks to me, in a weird way. For example, someone will write an article decrying the liberalism of the Church since the 1960s, and especially of the current pope, Francis. He seems like a nice enough guy, but to these writers, he will destroy the Church. And I guess they are right, if what they mean is that the old conservative Church will be replaced by a liberal Church. But these writers suggest that congregations are shrinking precisely because the old Church is being dismantled, and I find myself agreeing with that view.
Several articles appearing in The Catholic Thing, such as this one, have talked about Truth versus Faith/Belief. The idea, if I understood it correctly, was that Truth is revealed by God in the voice of the prophets and Jesus Christ, and somehow that Truth is being lost in the liberalization of the Church. The point being that a secularization is taking place, that liberal and secular are kissing cousins (my term), and that whatever Truth had once been part of the teaching of the Church is gradually being replaced by relativistic morals, that the voice of Jesus is no longer supreme in determining the teachings of the Church.
One example of this is the Amazon Synod that is currently occurring in Rome. Apparently, South American bishops and others of the Church who have been working with the indigenous peoples of the Amazon jungle, are currently having a meeting in Rome to determine the future direction of the Church. I cannot begin to summarize all the views and issues at stake in this Synod, but if the authors of the articles are right, much damage might be done to the conservative Church.
Many people may find this prospect satisfying. I would say that the typical atheist, especially a hard-line (neo)atheist who espouses the destruction of all religious institutions, will welcome the liberalization of the Catholic Church. However, it has consistently been my position on this blog, since 2009, that the world is not improved by the destruction of religion, that mankind is not ready for a purely secular life. A spiritual vacuum will develop, filled possibly by bad things like authoritarianism in its many forms, or at least leaving people unfulfilled. I think we’re already seeing evidence of this in day-to-day life, with school shootings, suicides, drug use, and clinical depression.
Am I saying that the Catholic Church (or some other religious institutions) should take a more active role in people’s lives? I don’t know. Maybe I need more time to think about it.
As an atheist, and a scientist (of sorts), I am very interested in the truth (Truth?). So, in the meantime, I will continue to read the articles coming out of The Catholic Thing, and ponder the issues.