It's official. The Catholic Knight is retired.  I'm hanging up the helmet and passing the torch. There will be no more articles, no more commentaries, no more calls to action. THIS BLOG IS CLOSED. I've spent a very long time thinking about this, I believe the time has come, and is a bit overdue.  I want to thank my readers for everything, but most especially for your encouragement and your willingness to go out there and fight the good fight. So, that being the case, I've spend the last several weeks looking for bloggers who are fairly active, and best represent something akin to the way I think and what I believe.  I recommend the following blogs for my readers to bookmark and check on regularly. Pick one as your favourite, or pick them all. They are all great..... In His Majesty's Service, THE CATHOLIC KNIGHT

Saturday, October 14, 2006

New American Catholicism Emerging - Orthodox, Conservative and Southern?

IN THE popular imagination, religion in the US Deep South, home of rednecks, Scarlett O’Hara and the Ku Klux Klan, was always a heady mixture of Confederate pride, bigotry and hellfire fundamentalism. But things are changing, and one of the most striking changes is the rapid growth of a Catholic Church with a particularly Southern complexion.

Catholics account for around 12 per cent of the population of the southern states, but in the booming cities of Atlanta, Greenville and Charlotte, 20 per cent are Catholics and their numbers are growing — up by a third in the 1990s — while Baptists, admittedly much more numerous, grew by less than 10 per cent. In short, Southern Baptists still dominate the religious scene, but the growth of the Catholic population is making itself felt...

...A “New Catholicism” is emerging that is likely to influence the whole US Church. These young Catholics tend to be faithful to the Church’s teachings while being educated and media-savvy. One of their hot spots in the South is the Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN) in Alabama. Started by a nun, Mother Angelica, the network broadcasts radio and TV programmes worldwide (including to Britain)....

...This New Catholicism is young and optimistic, but it is unlikely to tolerate the open dissent that went with the 1970s and the “cultural Catholicism” of generations past. That form of Catholicism is dying, and its death is symbolised by the northern US parishes with plummeting congregations, a shortage of priests and huge debts as they pay off child-abuse scandals. It seems that in the parishes where “anything goes”, everybody went....

...Patrick McHenry, 29, a Republican congressman from Charlotte, said to Time: “Southern Catholicism is changing the nature of the Church in America. We adhere to a truer and purer view of Catholicism” — in other words, these are Catholics who sign up to the full Catholic menu, including papal infallibility and the rejection of contraception, abortion, homosexuality and female ordination....

...The clash between the “New Catholicism” and Evangelical fundamentalism is almost tangible. Evangelicals are still suspicious of the Catholic Church and they bristle at the encroachment of Catholics into their heartland. Baptist churches in the region are likely to host conferences to help their people “share the gospel with Catholics”, while for his part, Father Newman, at St Mary’s, Greenville, has started a Centre for Evangelical Catholicism which is dedicated to helping all the people of the parish to “live out their baptismal vocation”.

However, the tension between Evangelicalism and Catholicism in the US is waning. As the main Protestant churches continue to haemorrhage members, money and influence, the two main religious forces in America are Catholicism and Evangelicalism. Despite the historical tensions, these two religious forces are surprisingly convergent; their steady rapprochement and shared conservative agenda has been analysed in the recent book Is the Reformation Over? Many ascribe George Bush’s election to his second presidential term to the fact that he appealed to the New Catholic vote as well as the right-wing Evangelical vote....

The economic vitality of the new South and its increasing political clout (three of the five last presidents were Southerners) means that the future of the whole US will probably be determined there. As the 21st century becomes increasingly driven by religious agendas, it is likely that Catholics and Evangelicals in the influential Southern states will find themselves fighting side by side for a shared moral and social agenda on both the national and the international stages.

The Confederate soldiers used to say: “The South will rise again.” The prophecy seems to be coming true but in ways the old soldiers did not foresee.

read full story here

THE CATHOLIC KNIGHT: As I've said for years now, when it comes to that 'old time religion,' nothing beats the Roman Catholic Church. There is a natural appeal for Catholicism among Southerners in the Bible Belt. This natural appeal is suppressed unnaturally, by a prejudice and fear of Catholicism promoted in the age-old hostilities wrought by the Protestant Reformation. But once fears are elevated, prejudices can be put aside,and for those willing to try; a natural gravitation toward Catholicism will inevitably occur. There truly is nothing more 'Southern' than being Catholic when you really think about it. The Old South had a relatively large Catholic population, and virtually all the great Confederate heroes of the Civil War had some direct link to Catholicism in some way. Whether it be through a parochial education they received (as was the case with General Robert E. Lee), or a personal correspondence with the pope himself (as was the case with President Jefferson Davis); the Southern connection to Catholicism is just as historical as it is contemporary. The future of American Christianity is going to be Evangelical and Catholic -- and when I say "Catholic," I mean conservative Catholic. Mainline Protestant churches are slowly withering away, and will continue to do so. The 20th century experiment in religious liberalism has proved to be a complete failure. Mainline Protestant churches are imploding, while the Cafeteria Catholicism of the North and West Coast has given us nothing but stagnation and scandal. In the end, only conservative Catholics and Evangelicals will remain standing. The Bible Belt is a land where moral constants are desired, relativism is abhorred, and Southerners can't help but find what their looking for in the rich and ancient tradition of the Roman Catholic Church. As organizations like 'Catholic Answers' and EWTN continue to get their message out, and alleviate leftover Reformation fears, the Catholic population in the South has nowhere to go but up. This demographical trend will change the face of Christianity in the United States forever. It's influence over American politics cannot be denied, and through a seemingly unlikely vehicle, the South has risen again! DEO VINDICE!