• Twitter
  • Facebook
News-Sentinel.com Your Town. Your Voice.
Opening Arguments

Oilive Garden Catholics

At the risk of again infuriating Catholics (let 'er rip, CED), I must comment on the poll of Catholics released in conjunction with the pope's visit to America. This caught my eye:

Yet, few parishioners overall said they go to confession, and most believed they could be good Roman Catholics without going to Mass.

I recently heard a comedian describe himself as "an Olive Garden Italian," which I took to mean "that identity is still important to me, but I've lost touch with the culture." I don't understand the language anymore, but I sitll like the food.

Can the church survive with all these Olive Garden Catholics? Can any institution thrive if the people who say they still believe in it no longer follow its rituals? The rituals represent organized religions' teachings on matters metaphysical. What else separates them?



Mon, 04/14/2008 - 9:13am

I notice that you only generally only cite polls when they support your own prejudices, Leo. But, after all, you "must comment". I often feel that I must comment when when you talk about your cats, but I refrain, since I know nothing about cats, which is exactly as much as I want to know.

Things must be different here in the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend than wherever the data from the poll were gleaned. Confession is a common, well-attended sacrament in all the churches I am familiar with with. Masses are generally packed on all Sundays and Holydays, with some exceptions in the inner city churches with smaller congregations now going to large, older churches, built for larger populations.

"Can the church survive with all these Olive Garden Catholics?" News flash, Leo! The church has survived much worse than that. Persecutions, heresies, defections, schisms and,yes, even indifference. It will no doubt survive the stings of comedians, and columnists who haven't got a clue about Catholicism. Hint:in the area of social justice, it is the very antithesis of libertarianism, so I can see why you might be rooting for a demise of its teachings.

Harl Delos
Mon, 04/14/2008 - 10:56am

CED, you write "Confession is a common, well-attended sacrament in all the churches I am familiar with with", but most catholics aren't in any church at all. Aside from weddings and funerals, 32% of all catholics rarely or never attend Mass, and another 24% attend only a few times a year.

You can download the full report. It's kinda interesting. There are links at http://cara.georgetown.edu/sacraments.html

Leo, you ask "Can any institution thrive if the people who say they still believe in it no longer follow its rituals?"

I've been asking the same thing about the GOP. The party used to stand for protecting constitutional freedoms, limiting the size of government, respect for the individual, avoiding wars through military strength, balancing the budget, personal integrity, and free markets. In recent years, it's forgotten all those principles, severely restricting the bill of rights, expanding government, immigrant-bashing, using the military to interfere in other countries' internal affairs, running huge deficits, corruption, and abandoning free market principles in favor of no-bid contracts and protectionist restrictions.

Mike Gravel looks like a better Republican than McCain or any of the others who competed with him, and he was running for the Democratic nomination!

Mon, 04/14/2008 - 12:39pm

Apparently you don't read well, Mr. Delos. I was talking about the churches here. Maybe it truly is different in Pennsylvania. Although I must say that when my wife and I travel around this country and Canada, which we do frequently, and our trips extend over a Sunday, we always find the Catholic church we happen to attend to be full, if not overflowing. Even the church can tend to fall in love with polls and statistics a little too much, I fear.

I know a number of Catholics who don't attend mass regularly. None of them, however, have ever told me they feel they are in good standing with the church. It seems Catholics around here, at least, have not bought into that rationalization.

Harl Delos
Tue, 04/15/2008 - 3:04am

I didn't say a word about Pennsylvania.

Leo is talking about a poll of *all* US Catholics. I'm talking about the same poll. You're talking about a minority of Catholics.

"I know a number of Catholics who don

Tue, 04/15/2008 - 9:08am

Mr. Delos:

Yes, I have asked. As a matter of fact, I have been pleasantly surprised at how many "lapsed" -an adjective not original with the noted theologian Mr. Donahue- Catholics just needed someone to nudge them toward a reconciliation with the church.

I am,of course, well aware that the poll numbers cited are from a national survey. My whole point was that my anecdotal observations both locally and from my travels tend to belie many of the findings.

Your lunch counter analogy doesn't really hold up in this case. If the guy across the street is selling dogma du jour, the proper response is not the same thing with a choice of two sides.

However, opening dialogues with not only lapsed Catholics but others is, of course, a worthwhile thing to do. If polls such as this one can prove helpful to that end, great.