Catholicism at the “tipping point”
Why should anyone care about Sheila O’Brien? She isn’t Anne Rice, after all. And her complaints about “an institution off the rails” will surprise no regular follower of the Catholic scene: an unresolved sex abuse crisis, Roman authorities who seem deaf to the aspirations of women and even punitive toward some, a lack of financial transparency. “How can we stay in a church whose leaders protect pedophiles?” O’Brien asks. “Yet how can we leave and relinquish our church to those very leaders?”
But I think who she is and the demographic profile she reflects matters as much as what she wrote: a cradle Irish Catholic, the granddaughter of immigrants, a professional woman, a wife and mother. In other words O’Brien represents the “thick middle” of the American Catholic Church. She’s active in her parish and still contributes to it (but writes “one-time bequest” on every check, she says, so nothing goes to the diocese). She’s a graduate of the University of Notre Dame Law School, and she even has a degree in pastoral theology. In other words, she’s Catholic with a capital C.
. . .
Catholicism has reached a “tipping point”–initiated by the crisis but perpetuated by other unresolved issues–after which thoughtful Catholics, despite their faith and commitment, finally start to give up.
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