the taming of the Church
Asked to comment on the possibility that Sonia Sotomayor would become the 6th Catholic member of the current Supreme Court, a liberal analyst offered this perceptive comment to the Boston Globe:
"It's clear that neither the politicians nor the public nor the media are making any equation at all between Catholicism and even those issues where the church has spoken so strongly," said Nadine Strossen, a long-time court watcher as the former president of the American Civil Liberties Union and a law professor at New York University.
In The Faithful Departed (page 248, if you have your copy handy), Phil Lawler commented on why Catholicism once was a powerful influence around Boston:
Catholic public influence in Boston was built upon Catholic unity. The faithful were bound together by common beliefs, common discipline, and common worship. The Catholic population formed a distinct, identifiable social unit. It was possible to speak about "the Catholic position" on a public issue, and the more boldly that position was proclaimed, the most cohesive was the Catholic presence. As long as the clergy nourished the faith of the laity, and the hierarchy nourished the faith of the clergy, the influence of Catholicism continued to grow. Regular use of the sacraments and firm adherence to doctrine bred solidarity among Catholics: solidarity that could easily be translated into social influence and political power.
That's all gone now. When you learn that Sonia Sotomayor is (or was) a Catholic, what can you predict-- among her beliefs, her background, her political affiliations, her personal habits? Nothing.
Stroessen saw this complete loss of distinctive Catholic identity as a "very positive development." The former ACLU president is not alone. There are others-- perhaps including a current resident of the White House-- who regard it as desirable for Catholics to be cut loose from their spiritual, intellectual, and social moorings.
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