From their point of view, the US isn’t the problem

From their point of view, the US isn’t the problem

In his “Word from Rome” column a couple of weeks ago, John Allen interviewed Francis Rooney, US ambassador to the Vatican, and among his questions he noted that after the fall of the Soviet Union, the Holy See seemed to promote a unified Europe as a counterweight to the US’s dominance in world affairs, but with the runaway secularism of Europe now appears to see the US as the best institutional ally of Christianity.

That raises an interesting point. Many people, most notably American Catholics blog commenters, often lament that the Vatican seems to do very little about the state of the Church in the US. But if you look at it from Rome’s point of view, the sad fact may be that the Church in the US looks relatively healthy compared to the Church in Europe. Take a look at the Catholic Conservation blog by Gillibrand sometime, or Closed Cafeteria by Gerald Augustinus, and see the documentation of what is happening in the Church in Europe. It makes the worst excesses of the LA Religious Education Congress look like a Tridentine Mass.

Here in the US, at least we have 30 percent attendance. In Europe it’s worse. Sure, we have Voice of the Faithful and Call to Action, but they’re small potatoes compared to We Are Church. They look at the US and see a generally Christian country, in which religious values play out in national politics, where the abortion issue is still very much a big deal, where the leading politicians of both major political parties must still at least give the appearance of religious practice, and so on. Not so in Europe.

That’s not to minimize the very real problems we do have in the US. I’m just saying that maybe it explains how and why the Vatican reacts to the situation here as it does. From where they sit, the US isn’t the biggest fire they have to put out.

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