The Catholic church's recent woes are just part of a broader problem. Western churches have been reduced to an irrelvance of which their declining and aging membership is only a sympton.
I was reminded of this when I recently attended a Catholic service. (My wife is Catholic).What an air-headed waste of time. Apparently, their idea of God is one who requires constant flattery, with a frequent round of applause for his mother. There is constant definition of what you must believe to be a Catholic., and so much chanting and worship that the church really should introduce women into the service as majorettes.
One can easily find the same thing in Anglican, Presbyterian, United,and other churches. Lots of semi-scholarly guessing about exactly what the Bible meant in its translation of some arcane word, lots of You're a great god, God."
You can find the same thing in this section of WC with lots of speculation about the unknowable - heaven and whether we will be able see unlimited TV re runs there - , rather like four year olds speculating about where babies come from.
The result - the churches most of us are most familiar with have lost almost all credibility in what they think religion is about, and almost all influence in daily life. (Lost of examples - the wide acceptance of mass murder of civilians, of torture, of terror on our side as well as on the other.)
The churches who are doing better are the evangelical and fundamentalist. They play a far greater role in Canadian political affairs, so much so that Harper caters to them (as in abortion), while he feels free to dump on the rest of us (as in Kairos.) That would be nice except the fundamenatlist evangelicals enjoy their influence because so many usually support the purposes of the rich and powerful - the wars to steal natural resources, the torture, the attacks on social programmes, the mass murder..
For all t heir simplistic views of religion and faith (sorry, they are simplistic), they are influential because they deal with this life on earth. Why can't we deal with it - using a Christianity that dumps the idea that God is a sort of person, that Mary being a virgin and Jesus walking on water are neat tricks -but prove nothing about anything.)?
Why can't we have more services that talk about what Jesus told us about living. Is it possible to say, as many do, that capitalism is effective because it is based on greed, and still be a Christian? (This is not an argument against captialism being effective - because I don't think any ideological economic system can be effective always and everywhere). Is it compatible with what Jesus taught?
Is sending troops to fight in Afghanistan compatible with Christianity? Would Jesus have kept His mouth shut about it because it was impolitic to say anything?
It is essential our churches not only survive, but grow. We live in a western world fast running out of any guidelines, any sense of how we have to behave if societies are not to turn back to packs of wild animals.
Yes. There are dangers. If we stay as we are, there is no danger. There is certainty we will not survive.