Jimmy Mac sent me a short news piece from The Tablet giving some details on young adult trends in Italy among Catholics. In sum: 14% fewer self-identify as Catholic from six years ago, leaving the overall numbers in the country pretty close to 50-50. Almost three in four still think religion is important. (Bad news: that’s a drop of 8%.)
From the pollsters:
On the one hand this supports the do-it-yourself religiosity that sociologists have been talking about for decades. On the other hand, it shows a polarisation of choices: those who remain Catholic are more and more convinced, while those who have never been or who are no longer Catholic demonstrate a greater detachment from the Church of Rome and, at times, a downright hostility, while still cultivating a certain interest in the spiritual dimension.
From Robert Mickens at The Tablet:
Italian church leaders have remained quiet about this survey and another poll among the general population that indicated a drop of confidence in the Church as an institution. Perhaps they are consoling themselves with the knowledge that they still wield a powerful influence over major players in Italian society, especially in the media and politics.
That reported polarization is interesting. With few exceptions, the current crop of bishops stateside seem to me to be more concerned about defining Catholicism for the flock that remains. And maybe that’s one thrust for a leadership worried about the potential effects of that “drop in confidence.” On the other hand, I think we need more of the post-conciliar optimism that’s been missing under JPII and thereafter. Too much emphasis on conformity, not enough on culture. Too much distrust of the laity, not enough faith that the religious imagination of the Catholic culture will hold. Maybe the pope as charismatic figure is too dangerous a model for us. And yet I’m not so sure that the model of pope as brilliant theologian is so inspirational either.
Trickling down to the bishops, we get more whining, leading to more calls for excommunication from the commentariat. And from this, some of these prelates have the audacity to accuse others of damaging Church unity? Who needs cheerleaders when the situation calls for fishermen?