This article by Catholic Peter Steinfels from today's Commonweal is worth a read.
Steinfels ( left) is the co-director of the Fordham Center for Religion and Culture and in his book called In A People Adrift, he warned that the Catholic church in the U.S. and Europe faced "thoroughgoing transformation or irreversible decline."
Yes, he says "the gates of hell will not prevail but that did not guarantee the church's flourishing or even existence in any given time or place."
Even as early as 2003, Steinfels, in an interview for PBS outlined some of his fears for the church he loves.
He fears that unless American Catholics overcome what he calls a "vacuum of leadership," they will experience "a soft slide" into Catholicism in name only, as has happened in much of Europe. The danger is a kind of hollowing out of the faith of Catholics, where it no longer will affect the central decisions that they make."
For the video and/or transcript of this interview see here as well as other resources and an extract from his book, A People Adrift.
In the latest issue of The Atlantic, Ross Douthat (left), raised the question even more bluntly: http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/21010/07/the-catholic-church-is-finished/8159.
Peter Steinfels says :
“For millions in Europe and America,” he writes, Catholicism is “finished” — “permanently associated with sexual scandal, rather than the gospel of Jesus Christ.” Perhaps the sexual scandal is not the chief culprit, but church leadership’s inability to respond adequately is certainly a symptom of something deep seated. More and more I contemplate the possibility that Douthat may be right. What do others think?"
Well, 135 others have made comments to Steinfels article so far in a wide ranging debate which indicates at least that people are not indifferent to the topic and heartens me as a fellow Catholic.
Douhat's earlier article in April of this year, " The Better Pope " in the NYT was a well balanced and unbiased report so he is definitely not a Pope Basher nor seeking to get on the controversial bandwagon for the sake of it.
You can read this one here and another from E. Kain in the American Times here who supports the integrity of Douhat's journalism.