U.S. Notes & Quotes

'Sleeping In’ is Symbolic Excuse for Lapsed Catholics

THE PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, Jan. 17— “Is it possible for former Catholics to reconcile with a church that they feel is too rich, too harsh, tainted by scandal or chained to moral positions the rest of society abandoned decades ago?”

That was a question posed to Anthony Cardinal Bevilacqua in an Inquirerstory that featured the successful efforts of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia to re-evangelize lapsed Catholics. “I've heard them all,”said Cardinal Bevilacqua of the familiar litany of complaints against the Church. But archdiocesan studies found that personal disagreements or bad experiences were not the primary reasons for departures from the Church.

A chief finding was summed up by the cardinal as “I like to sleep in on Sunday mornings,”but which also reflects the impact of affluence and a culture that is wary of moral absolutes and has a diminished sense of sin.

The story highlighted lay evangelization efforts in Philadelphia and the archdiocese's 1-877-BLESS-ME program in which the public can speak to a priest any time of the day or night. More than 6,000 calls have been made to the line since it began in November.

Do Catholics Have a Better Language for Politics?

THE WALL STREET JOURNAL, Jan. 29—Evangelical Protestants should step aside and let Catholics articulate the Christian message in politics, says Journal columnist William McGurn. This is important, he argues, because Catholics are a key “swing” vote without which conservative Christians cannot succeed.

Observing that evangelicals too often slip into fire and brimstone rhetoric that comes off as harsh, “the natural-law tradition of Catholics does not suffer from this … handicap,” wrote McGurn. “The oft-noted fact that some of [President] Clinton's most effective moral critics have been Catholics has … to do with … a tradition that insists on objective moral truth while recognizing that we all occasionally fall short.”

A more “Catholic” moral approach does not risk Protestant defection. McGurn contended: “A more visible Catholic voice within the party might help Republicans to address many of their hot-button issues in a way that would retain their evangelical base but resonate better with the rest of America.”