Friday, September 11, 2009

Shake and Bake

If you don't count Vatican City, the most orthodox Catholic nation in the World is the tiny island nation of Malta. Even there, the younger generations are fast becoming secularized. After that the European Countries of Ireland, Spain, Portugal and Italy are probably the most strongly Catholic. Compared to most of the Catholic World fifty years ago, these countries would be considered wildly liberal. Birth control is practiced universally, abortion, divorce and open homosexuality are all routinely accepted, even if they are still illegal. The Church is being pushed out of its institutionalized participation within the governments in all of these nations. In Africa, one of the few places the church is still growing, both the laity and clergy universally reject celibate priests and many priests are illicitly married. In Latin America, indigenous Catholics are openly returning to the traditional worship of their cultures, supplanted by the Catholic conquistadors, more than 400 years ago.

The most economically elevated Catholic populations live in Europe and North America. In lifestyle and social belief, they are no different from their secular brothers and sisters. The international church has always counted on this group to fund their activities but as their dissatisfaction with the church grows, they are slowly turning off the tap of donations.

The current Pope was elevated to the position in extreme old age and was the leader of the church's most conservative faction. He is frantically creating new bishops and cardinals whose beliefs match his own, making it less and less likely that when he dies, certainly within the next decade, the next Pope will be more enlightened. This new Pope is setting the stage for a cataclysmic power struggle within the church.

It will be fun to watch.

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