Some Thoughts On the Polarisation In the Church

In the past year I have attended exactly three different churches. The priests in these churches have ranged from fairly conservative to moderately progressive, and I imagine many people would fail to notice any significant differences between them. That is to say, among the clergy in these three parishes, there is not a great deal of obvious diversity.

Given that priests (and sometimes deacons) are the only ones who get to share their own thoughts during the liturgy, a disinterested observer might get the feeling that most Catholics are more or less on the same page, theologically speaking, if they were judging simply from what is said in church. I sometimes feel that way myself, but then I start reading stuff on the internet, and something entirely different becomes quickly apparent: there is a massive divide in the church, and I don't think it is exaggerating to call it a de facto schism. Hell, I'd go so far as to say that many Catholics are practising a different religion than I am. This doesn't stop us from warmly greeting each other in church, but I wonder what would happen if the opportunity to share our own perspectives presented itself.

Actually, I sort of wonder why I so rarely meet in real life the kind of ultra-conservatives I encounter on the internet. I've had a couple of very conservative colleagues, and one very conservative principal, but I haven't had any really conservative students, and I've never had a problem with conservative parents. And I don't think they're all home-schooling, although I've heard grumblings to the effect that the Catholic school system here is too liberal.

The tension in the church is obvious, and one is tempted to think that sometime, maybe soon, something is going to give, and the conflict will be resolved. I'm not so sure. Obviously a lot of people thought Ratzinger's ascension to the papacy would mean a decisive victory for the conservative side, but -- just as obviously -- that hasn't happened.

I have some thoughts on where things are going to go. Eventually I'll get around to posting them.


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