Symposium Explores Dramatic Changes in Catholicism since 1950s

Catholic News Service [North Smithfield RI]
Downloaded March 27, 2003

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Experts explored the what, how and why of dramatic changes in Catholic identity and practice since 1950 in Ireland, the United States and Quebec during a two-day symposium at The Catholic University of America. The March 21-22 symposium, titled "Decline and Fall?" focused on two countries and a province where in the 1950s vocations were plentiful, Mass attendance was high and most Catholics looked to the parish church not only for worship and a rich array of devotions, but also as a center of social life. Woven into the symposium's narrative of the decline of many of the traditional markers of Catholic identity were a wide range of social and economic factors and a number of religious ones -- including new views of church, world and other religions from the Second Vatican Council, authority issues in the church, and widespread lay disagreement with church policies or teachings on sexuality and gender issues. But the symposium closed on what might best be described as an upbeat note when Canadian theologian Gregory Baum described what he called "the extraordinary creativity of post-World War II Catholicism."


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