However, it would appear that — when it comes to Catholic pastoral care and church life — what matters these days is this: “Location, location, location.”
Thus, Germany is not America. Also, in terms of “pastoral charity” in parts of America, it’s safe to say that San Diego is not Los Angeles, Newark is not Denver and Chicago is definitely not Tyler, Texas. Oh, and Catholic bishops who favor “pastoral charity” frequently get to wear red hats.
The lives of Catholics are already affected by these dynamics, of course, especially if they love smells, bells, Latin, ancient chants and the Catholic Catechism. Some Catholics are, at the moment, happy in their “location, location, location” sanctuaries. Others are not. What will happen in the future to the leaders of Catholic schools, hospitals and other nonprofit ministries? What doctrines define their work?
OK, back to real estate. Long ago, I wrote a piece — “Location, location, location” — for an Anglican publication edited by religion-beat veteran Doug LeBlanc, who would later be the co-founder of GetReligion. The thesis?
When push comes to shove, almost everything depends on location, location, location, location. How someone views the state and the future of the Church usually depends on the Zip Code in which an Episcopalian’s kneeler is located.
Now, what readers need to do — mentally, when reading this Episcopalian-centric flashback — is substitute the word “Catholics” in place of “Episcopalians.”
This is long, but I predict that Catholic readers will get the Big Idea in this old essay:
Episcopalian No. 1 lives in the Southwest. His bishop supports evangelical causes and can quote chapter and verse from recent papal encyclicals. The diocese has taken a strong stand in defense of traditional Christian teachings on the sacrament of marriage and has proclaimed that salvation is found through Jesus Christ, alone.
Episcopalian No. 2 lives out West. Her vestry has told the diocese that it will do everything it can to defend the catholic faith and biblical morality. The diocesan bishop — flying in “stealth” mode — has managed to keep from taking a stand. At this point, the bishop is being fair to churches on both the left and right.
Episcopalian No. 3 loves his parish. However, it is located in a Midwestern diocese that strongly supports the national church hierarchy. … The bishop has, privately, told this priest that his parish will have to start opening its checkbook or be demoted to mission status. The priest has called the Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese.
Episcopalian No. 4 is active in her Old South parish, but shuddered when her children came home from a youth group meeting talking about Gaia theory and environmental spirituality. Then the parish formed an Integrity chapter. Whenever she and her husband talk to the rector, they hear that their views matter — but nothing ever happens.
Remember, edit in “Catholic” where needed.
Liberal Catholics living in conservative dioceses will be able to identify with all of this, but they also will that — while the doctrines of the church have not changed, at this point — the “pastoral rules” have changed and, eventually, there is a good chance that Rome will provide them with a bishop committed to “pastoral charity” on the issues that matter to them.
Catholic conservatives already understand all of this. Some are happy where they are, for now. Others are becoming openly distressed.