that in 21st-century America Christians shop around.
To put it simply, Latinos go where they feel most comfortable. If that happens to be the local megachurch with its wisecracking preacher and fabulous crèche, they don’t necessarily feel they have apostasised from the one true Church, whose doctrines they were hazy about in the first place. They may still think of themselves as Catholics.
Consider the religious odyssey of Marco Rubio, junior senator for Florida and future Republican presidential candidate. When I was in the States for the 2010 midterms, I reported that this “devout Catholic” attended an Evangelical church with his wife. Cue a panicky phone call from a member of his campaign team (a friend of a friend) explaining that the new senator was really a Catholic but went to Protestant services to keep his wife happy – and to mop up the born-again Christian vote. Only later did it emerge that Rubio’s Cuban family had also flirted with Mormonism.
This is an extreme example of the fluidity of American religion, a phenomenon that deeply worries the US bishops now that it includes Catholics. They grew up in an era when crossing the line into Protestantism meant being shunned by your community. How can they adjust to this messy new reality?
Marco Rubio: an extreme example of the fluidity of American religion
That’s a tough question. The obvious answer is for Catholic parishes to attract outsiders with the warmth and beauty of their services. However, that means competing not just with Protestants but also with other Catholic parishes – and the Church discourages “gathered congregations” because they disrupt its geographical pastoral structures. And remember: no branch of American Christianity is much good at passing on the faith to its children.
Catholic leaders hoped that the election of a Latin American pope would lead Hispanic Pentecostals back into the fold. Imagine their confusion when they discovered that Cardinal Bergoglio had a firm policy of working with, rather than trying to convert, Argentine
Evangelicals. He even knelt to receive the blessing of “bishops” who don’t pretend to be part of the apostolic succession. Next year, Pope Francis will visit the United States for the first time in his life. I’d be amazed if he encouraged Bible-believing Hispanics to uproot themselves from their congregations and return to Mother Church.
The problem of Latino “switching” will only go away when Hispanics stop going to any church. Do we want that to happen? Are they better off spending Sundays watching sport instead of listening to the word of God expounded by a minister who explicitly rejects the Catholic sacraments? I think we can guess what the Holy Father’s answer would be. Damian Thompson is associate editor at the Spectator and a Catholic Herald director
Catholic Dilemmas Fr Tim Finigan
! " # $ " " % & ' (
" ) * + # % , - "% - ./ 0 ) 1 ' 2
PRIESTLY FRATERNITY OF SAINT PETER 9 more places on the retreat for clergy on the four last things, May 4-8 2015. For diocesan clergy and religious. Preached in English by Fr. Armand de Malleray, FSSP. As men consecrated to God, we will meditate on each of the four last things. Cost: £299.00 all-inclusive for 4 full days’ full board in single rooms with en-suite bathroom and airport transfer (£249.00 if you travel separately). Book your place on Easyjet flight no. EZY204516 Mon 04 May 2015, London Luton to Zurich, Dep. 13.20 - Arr. 16.00. Return: Easyjet flight no. EZY204616 Fri 08 May 2015, Zurich to London Luton, Dep. 16.30 - Arr. 17.15. Booking: email@example.com or tel. 0118 966 5284
A shop near me sells lovely room fragrances, but they also have a lot of New Age goods, including tarot cards and crystals. Does this mean that I cannot shop there? We routinely have to use shops that sell things which we disagree with: most supermarkets sell condoms, for example. When we buy other items in such a shop, we are not formally co-operating in evil since our cooperation does not directly promote the evil, nor do we intend to do so. It is justifiable to use supermarkets because there is a reasonable cause for us to use them to buy ordinary food and household necessities. Likewise, we use banks to keep our money safe even though we may disagree on ethical grounds with some of their investment decisions. With a New Age shop that sells fragrances, you need to consider whether there is really a reasonable cause to buy things there, or whether you could make do by going somewhere else. Room fragrances are, after all, not a necessity of life. You also need to assess how “innocent” the shop is. New Age products are sometimes stocked among various lifestyle accessories simply because they are fashionable. But some shops focus more clearly on the occult. Tarot cards are a worrying sign, and you should certainly shun any outlet that goes in for spells or Wiccan supplies. Making choices about where we shop can also remind us of what is at the heart of our lives and what can be dispensed with.
JESUIT CHURCH FARM STREET, MAYFAIR 7th December 2014 - 2nd Sunday of Advent
Mass times: Sat: 8am, 6pm (Vigil) Sun: 8am, 9.30am (Family Mass) 11.00am (Sung: Christopher Willcock SJ,
Palestrina, Martini, J S Bach)
12.30pm, 4.15pm, 6.15pm www.farmstreet.org.uk
St Etheldreda’s Ely Place, Holborn Circus EC1
Tel: 020 7405 1061 Sundays: 9am & 11am (Sung Latin) Weekdays (incl. Holydays): 1pm First Fridays: 6pm Low Mass in the
Extraordinary Form Confessions: Monday to Friday 1.20pm and at call
24 CATHOLIC HERALD, DECEMBER 5 2014