Saturday, 11 September 2010

Catholics look to Pope to make them more valued

The BBC has released the findings of an opinion poll they commissioned into attitudes among British Catholics on the eve of the papal visit. Here are some of the findings: 
• 69% think the Pope’s visit will be helpful to the Catholic Church here;
• More Catholics think the Pope should drop his insistence on clerical celibacy than do not (49% to 35%, with a further 17% uncommitted);
• More than six in ten Catholics (62%) say women should have more authority and status in the Catholic Church -- with identical scores for men and women.
• Almost six in ten, 57%, feel their Catholic faith is not generally valued by British society
• A majority of Catholics – 52% - say that the scale of child abuse within the Catholic Church, and how has subsequently been handled, ‘has shaken their faith in the leadership of the Church’
None is very surprising. The first finding -- 7 out of 10 Catholics think the visit will be helpful to the Church -- should be set aside the fourth: almost 6 out of 10 say their Catholic faith is not generally valued by society. There is a perception among Catholics that the Church's voice is largely excluded from the public sphere, and a belief that Pope Benedict can help put that right.

The desire for women to have more leadership roles in the Church is to be expected, given British cultural attitudes to gender. Most Catholics would be suprised to discover -- because they will seldom see them  -- the number of women who administer parishes (as pastoral assistants) or who are in charge of formation and catechesis, let alone those who run abbeys and schools.  That said, there could be, should be, many more Vatican departments run by women. (For background on women in the Vatican, see this CNS story from 2007).

Laura Crowley, Catholic Voice
Many -- not far under half, in fact  --  of the 'Catholic Voices' team are lay women like Laura Crowley (photo). Being a Catholic communicator in a fast-moving, often hostile news environment is hardly a place for shrinking violets and stay-at-homes. CVs Bonnie Lander and Madeleine Teahan, who describe themselves as 'Catholic feminists' are introduced as such -- Monitor has learned -- in Dowd's film next Wednesday.