Indirect Moral Corruption Driving Catholics Out of the North


Part of the cynical wisdom, up here in the Northeast, is that the Catholic Church has to support pro-immigration policy because it needs immigrants to keep its parishes going.  To the extent that this demographic pressure has any effect on what the Church actually does, a Catholic News Agency article about the Church’s growth in the South should suggest other policy positions that the Northern Church could promote:

The growth in part reflects the number of Catholics moving south from northern dioceses. Though this results in the closures of churches and schools in former Catholic strongholds, it is driving new expansion in the U.S. South.

I’ve half-joked that I’ve remained in Rhode Island out of missionary motivation, and only the jest part is political.  A region that is driving families apart and separating people from their homes presents real moral challenges.  In that regard, the Catholic Church — all churches — should acknowledge what the government plantation policies of Rhode Island are doing and impress upon believers their moral obligation to stay and to change things.

Working against poverty and injustice can’t be limited to standing up for those who are clearly oppressed, or else good works risk falling into vanity.  Vanishingly few people in contemporary America question the righteousness of helping those who immediately need help, but if we’re serious about helping those whom we can’t so easily see, whether because their problems are not so obvious or because their problems haven’t yet manifested, we have to take a broader view.

That means a society that draws people toward fulfilling lives of familial stability and self-motivated work.  And while the constituencies who see a Democrat vote as part of their cultural inheritance won’t like it, the policies on which we’re currently focused are clearly not serving that end.  The moral corruption of the government plantation is that ignoring the structural justice that brings stability and prosperity, but that requires a resilient and sometimes unpopular maturity, produces ample opportunities to display visible righteousness on behalf of those whom our ignorance has harmed.

  • ricon

    I see this every Sunday. Except for positions on “life” our relatively young priest spews an enormous amount of progressive talking points. I sometimes don’t know if I am listening to a homily or CNN.

  • Rhett Hardwick

    Could it be that Northeasterners are moving to the South, simply because that is where the jobs are,. Charlotte is now the “Wall Street of the South”,. Other states are filling up with auto plants. Toyota,. Hyundai, BMW, VW,, etc,. Spent some of my early years in the South, Catholics were simply unknown,. My mother (from RI) was the first Catholic my father had ever met,.

    • Justin Katz

      That’s the point: Northeaster policy generally is unjust and forcing out families, including Catholics.

      As to the graven images, the argument is that Catholics aren’t worshiping the images, but taking them as representations pointing to the actual Person being worshipped. With the birth of Jesus, God was no longer simply an abstraction who could not be represented in an adequate way.

      • Rhett Hardwick

        Didn’t intend any theological discussion. Just mentioning what struck an 8 year old accustomed to Protestant churches. I was familiar with the “cross” as a centerpiece, but not with Christ on it,. I understand that Muslims adhere to this injunction even more strictly,.

    • Mike678

      I have to agree that there are many reasons to move, Justin’s theory being just one. I know two families relocating South to be near their children–successful college grads that couldn’t find employment in RI.

  • Merle The Monster

    Katz conviently leaves the Rust Belt States out of the picture which like the New England states have lost manufacturing jobs and are seeing people migrate to the South and Southwest. Among those leaving for employment opportunities , there are bound to be Catholics. The Catholic “strongholds ” your article refers to are in the North with Rhode Island having one of the highest percentage of Catholics of all the states in the country so it would make sense that a relatively high number of those leaving would be Catholics.
    The other thing we may suspect about the numbers of Catholics dropping in the Northeast is that some cradle Catholics are falling away from the Church and not returning or bringing their children in to replenish the flock The decision not to engage as Catholics may be due to opposition to the Church’s hardline on social issues like abortion and same sex marriage. It may be that the rise of progressive ideas in the Northeast being translated into policy on the political front is due to the support of those Catholics who no longer identify as Catholics In other words, the Church is losing the argument about our political and social arrangements and the Church is losing its membership as a result.