Action Alert!

Boston's cafeteria Catholics

By Phil Lawler (bio - articles ) | May 11, 2003

The Globe poll confirms what we've always known: Most of the people in Boston identify themselves as Catholics, and that identification is about as far as they're willing to go to satisfy the demands of the faith.

Most of these people don't frequent the sacraments, they don't believe what the Church believes, and they certainly don't proclaim the Gospel. From the Globe's perspective, that makes them ideal Catholics. ("The only good Catholic is a bad Catholic.") These folks take their instruction not from the Vatican, but from the Globe editorial page. So naturally the editors think that these folks should select the next archbishop.

Two thoughts:

  • In the unlikely event that they attend Mass on a given Sunday, are these cafeteria Catholics likely to hear anything from the pulpit that would clash with their fashionably liberal secular beliefs?
  • The most interesting datum in the Globe poll is the fact that Boston's Catholics are still steadily losing confidence in the archdiocese because of the sex-abuse scandal. One one hand that makes sense; absolutely nothing the archdiocese has done should have restored public confidence. On the other hand, hasn't the archdiocese done pretty much everything the Globe would have recommended?
  • The real lesson to be learned from this survey is that the Catholic population of Boston-- mostly estranged from the Church right now-- has lost all interest in a watered-down, timid, dysfunctional, corrupt approach to Catholicism. Is that really bad news?

    Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at See full bio.

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