Richard John Neuhaus, in ”First Things: A Journal of Religion, Politics and Culture,” (November 2005), comments on the notion ”that in matters of religion, but not only in matters of religion, one must make a choice between tolerance and truth.” He says it as false as a notion as it is a persistent one.

He cites a recent study by sociologists James D. Davidson and Dean R. Hoge ”that explores how the sexual scandals have influenced Catholic attitudes toward the faith and the Church.” Davidson and Hoge surveyed over a thousand, self-identified Catholics. In the study, 60% of participants were registered in a local parish and were assumed to be more religiously active than the 40% who were either not registered or who were unsure where or whether they were registered.

The researchers report an overall picture of stability in the pews. The results include several startling figures:

1) ”Generational differences on the effects of the scandal turn out to be small, as were differences between registered parishioners and others.”
2) ”81% of Catholics said that being Catholic is a very important part of who I am.”
3) ”82% said the Catholic Church is very important to me personally.”
4) ”71% said they would never leave the Catholic Church.”
5) ”83 percent of Catholics agree that in the Mass the bread and wine actually become the body and blood of Christ.”

Citation of statistics was not the main point of Neuhaus’s lengthy article but I thought that the numbers were a striking indicator of the strength of religious upbringing as a longer-term factor in Catholic, self-identity.

2 Responses to “Catholicism and Scandal”

  1. C.D. Barrett says:

    Since you quote Auden and Neuhaus on the same page, perhaps you’d be interested in an Audenism more directly pertinent to Neuhaus’s comment about truth and tolerance: ”though truth and love can never really differ, when they seem to, the subaltern should be truth.” From ”The Cave of Nakedness”

  2. Eric Back says:

    A striking thought though I’m not sure that I’d agree with Auden. Thanks for the contribution.

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