Observers of American Catholicism can be alternately impressed and puzzled by its polyphony of public voices. Some, in the name of tradition, call for pulling back from change; others, under the banner of Vatican II, push against the boundaries of doctrine.
Jerome Baggett wanted to know how Catholics live their faith, how they interact in their worship community and how they relate to the larger church and their civic community. So he visited six Catholic parishes in the San Francisco Bay area and interviewed or reviewed questionnaires filled out by 300 parishioners.
Pope Benedict’s invitation to Anglican bodies to join the Roman Catholic Church was seen by some observers as historically momentous and by others as insignificant (after all, a provision has always been there for Anglicans to convert). Which is it?
Responding to “many news accounts” and “various inquiries” about a controversial investigation of U.S. sisters, a senior Vatican official defended the probe as an “effort to promote the Catholic identity and vibrancy of life” in their communities.
Although many ex-Episcopalians in the U.S. identify with Catholic rules against ordaining women and noncelibate gays to the priesthood, the traditionalists heading their own rival Anglican organizations in North America say that few followers are likely to become Roman Catholics.
On the opening day of the U.S. Supreme Court’s fall term, the high court announced that it will not intervene in two prominent church-state cases, one involving a Catholic diocese in Con necticut and the other a former Epis copal parish in southern California.
The new U.S. ambassador to the Holy See, who was nominated to the post in late May and was easily approved by the Senate, met the press recently in Rome for the first time—and showed some diplomatic skill.
With embraces, hymns and common prayer, Catholic, Lutheran and Methodist leaders recalled joyfully the pact made a decade ago that ended a centuries-old division over a key church doctrine. Vows were made at a Chicago service to seek greater unity—even as a Catholic archbishop noted a new challenge to unity posed by diverging views on sexuality.