It might be a small change, but it affects a lot of people. Almost ten years after the Vatican issued a directive to make an English language missal which was more in tune with the original Latin, some Catholics are “distraught” about the change and refusing to “learn the damn prayers.” The Washington Post has the story:
“It’s ridiculous. I’ve been a Catholic for 50 years, and why would they make such stupid changes? They’re word changes. They’re semantics,” [Maribeth Lynch] said.
“It’s confusion. All it’s doing is causing confusion,” she said. “You want to go to church and be confused?”
Semper eadem, always the same, was the old motto and the Roman Catholic Church has never taken change easily. For immigrants from Ireland, Italy and Iberia, Catholicism provided an outlet for holding on to the mother country in a foreign land predicated on change. It took centuries before the Protestant majority accepted that Roman Catholics weren’t secretly attempting to undermine democracy to institute a government that was Papal, feudalistic and backward.But the American Catholic Church is experiencing more significant changes now than in many years and perhaps ever. It isn’t just the missals. The demographics are changing as well. The descendents of the Old Catholics, who grandparents and great grandparents came to America before the 1920s, are adapting to more conventional suburban lifestyles. Today, a suburbanite Italian American goes to the cubicle instead of the factory floor, attends a barbecue instead of the parish’s community pasta dinner and may go to the megachurch instead of the cathedral, or may just stay home.The number of Catholics in America continues to rise, thanks largely to immigration, but immigrants from Central and Latin America aren’t even as reliably Catholic as they used to be. The fervent Pentecostalism that has won tens of millions of converts in Latin America is also found among Hispanic immigrants to the US.The gradual loosening of ties between the pre-1923 immigrants and the Catholic Church has profound implications for the United States as well as for the Church. This is about more than a shortage of priests; it is about one of the deepest spiritual and cultural changes taking place in the United States today. Everything from voting behavior to family life is going to be affected by the success or failure of the Catholic Church in rebuilding its ties to a bigger share of its old base. The abuse scandals accelerated the drift from the Church, but they did not cause them — and restoring public faith in the integrity of the priesthood will not bring the process to an end.Via Meadia will be watching the unfolding story of American Catholicism, the largest church in the United States and one of the most integrated and widely dispersed institutions in the country, as we go forward. The story of religion always has been and likely long will be crucial to the story of America; the turmoil in Catholicism is much more important for the future of this country than many of the superficial issues and controversies that keep so much of the media endlessly, pointlessly busy.