- Grim parody of a golden age
The jihadist group now calling itself the Islamic State, which has terrorised religious minorities in Syria and Iraq, has declared its intention to restore the caliphate. Yet the extremists’ aims are remote from those of earlier Islamic rulers
- Home News
- World News
- Parish Practice
- Letters Extra
- The living Spirit
- Charity to support crew of ferry where illegal migrants were discovered
- Catholic Church in India hits out at potential communion wine ban
- Leadership Conference of Women Religious avoids confrontation at annual meeting in US
- Francis will travel to Tamil territory next year when he becomes first Pope to visit Sri Lanka
- Stop scapegoating Muslims: social disaffection has many causes, and they won’t be solved by blunt Government intervention Francis Davis
- Pope Francis has transformed the Church – it’s time the Church stopped stifling groups who embrace that transformation Chris McDonnell
- Francis' support for Romero cause is exciting because of its urgency - could he be beatified by end of 2015? Julian Filochowski in El Salvador
But rather than turning away from the Church, recent surveys show that people are developing new patterns of Catholic belonging.
“What it means to be a Catholic has changed,” says Linda Woodhead, professor of sociology of religion at Lancaster University and director of the Westminster Faith Debates, who designed the surveys made earlier this year.
“British Catholics have moved further from a Vatican-approved model of a faithful Catholic with every generation,” she writes in The Tablet this week. “This doesn’t mean that most have become secular, atheistic, or even non-Catholic – it means that they have become Catholic in a different way.
“The result is a Britain in which ‘faithful Catholics’ are now a rare and endangered species. Catholics have come adrift from Roman Catholicism. The latter holds fast to a model it believes to be endangered and unchanging, while the former have forged a new way of being Catholic in the conditions of contemporary culture.”
Professor Woodhead argues that there is a significant disparity between older and younger believers, saying: “Over-60s fit a model of ‘What it is to be Catholic’ closer to that officially promulgated by the Vatican in the ‘Wojtyla-Ratzinger’ era, whilst under-50s believe, behave, and belong in different ways.” Professor Woodhead created the three surveys to discover more about the beliefs of British Catholics. She found that while belief in God remains high, regular churchgoing among younger Catholics was declining.
Just over a third of all Catholics hardly or never attend services and only a fifth see themselves as “religious”. Her findings also show that zero per cent took guidance from religious leaders, national or local.
Read more here.