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The Catholic LabyrinthPower, Apathy, and a Passion for Reform in the American Church$
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Peter McDonough

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199751181

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199751181.001.0001

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(p.271) Conclusion
The Catholic Labyrinth

Peter McDonough

Oxford University Press

The official culture of American Catholicism has remained intact since Vatican II. But with the drop in the number of priests and nuns, lay personnel have taken over church-affiliated ministries. SNAP has succeeded in holding the church to account for predatory behavior by priests, while VOTF has made little progress in altering the hierarchical culture and organization of the church. The Leadership Roundtable has promoted modest reforms in the management of day-to-day church operations, though no grand bargain has been struck between bishops and lay benefactors. A paradoxical effect of relaxed sexual practice by Catholics is to sap collective incentives for change in doctrinal areas, and clerical authority stays in place. Decommitment and departures from the church, along with immigration and the growing though less than transparent power of mega-groups like the Knights of Columbus, have tilted church politics toward the right, markedly on “social issues.”

Keywords:   sexual practice, doctrine, management, decommitment, collective incentives, lay benefactors

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