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Americanized Catholicism? A Glance from the United States back toward Germany*

  • Dennis M. Doyle (a1)

Abstract

Thomas Schärtl observes that many trends in the United States are adapted in Europe and especially in Germany, yet there remain categories that are incommensurable. What can appear to be an ideal pluralism in the United States can also be interpreted as “bubbles” that reveal a lack of interaction among various groups. Consumerism and individualism have an impact on even some US Catholic bishops, leading to actions that appear strange to a German observer, such as protesting President Obama's invitation to speak at Notre Dame and teaming up politically with conservative Evangelical and Pentecostal Christians. German Catholics need to safeguard the relationship between religion and reason. Dennis Doyle agrees with Schärtl on the big picture but offers qualifications on specific points, noting especially the positive dimensions of Catholic interaction with Evangelicals and Pentecostals.

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This article originally appeared as “Amerikanisierter Katholizismus? Ein Blick aus den USA zurück nach Deutschland,” Stimmen der Zeit 230 (July 2012): 459–71. It has been translated by Dennis M. Doyle (University of Dayton) with the help of Katherine Kornek (graduate assistant, University of Augsburg), and revised by Stefanie Knauss (Villanova University).

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13 See The Pew Forum, “How the Faithful Voted: 2012 Preliminary Analysis,” November 7, 2012, http://www.pewforum.org/Politics-and-Elections/How-the-Faithful-Voted-2012-Preliminary-Exit-Poll-Analysis.aspx.

14 The Pew Forum, “Catholics Share Bishops' Concerns about Religious Liberty,” August 1, 2012, http://www.pewforum.org/Politics-and-Elections/Catholics-Share-Bishops-Concerns-about-Religious-Liberty.aspx.

15 USCCB, Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty, “Our First, Most Cherished Liberty,” April 12, 2012, http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/religious-liberty/our-first-most-cherished-liberty.cfm.

16 Child Trends DataBank, November 2012, http://www.childtrendsdatabank.org/?q=node/196.

17 Lonergan, Bernard, Insight: A Study of Human Understanding (New York: Philosophical Library, 1957), 103–39. What Lonergan applies directly to the relationship between statistical and classical theoretical approaches (and later also to the relationship between theory and common sense) is something I am applying analogously to the relationship between social theory and more classical approaches. Put simply, a social or cultural analysis that reveals negative patterns can, in the big picture, fit together with an approach that takes seriously the positive self-conscious motivations that also drive the decisions of individuals and groups.

18 Knox, Ronald, Enthusiasm: A Chapter in the History of Religion, with Special Reference to the XVII and XVIII Centuries (New York: Oxford University Press, 1950; reprint, South Bend, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 1994).

19 For a sympathetic analysis of the needs and desires of this group, see Portier, William L., “Here Come the Evangelical Catholics,” Communio 31 (Spring 2004): 3566.

* This article originally appeared as “Amerikanisierter Katholizismus? Ein Blick aus den USA zurück nach Deutschland,” Stimmen der Zeit 230 (July 2012): 459–71. It has been translated by Dennis M. Doyle (University of Dayton) with the help of Katherine Kornek (graduate assistant, University of Augsburg), and revised by Stefanie Knauss (Villanova University).

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