Fragmentation is an inherent consequence of specialist adaptations in organizational structures. Catholics worship together, but apart in personal parishes. From below, individual Catholics make parish choices that enable them to live out their Catholicism in a way that is meaningful to them. Traditionalist Catholics may gather in Traditional Latin Mass personal parishes. Progressive Catholics may gather in personal parishes with a social mission. From above, Catholic leaders necessarily grapple with the tension of homophily: like-minded Catholics clustering into like-minded parishes. Personal parishes enable bishops to manage and control how this happens among local religious organizations. Personal parishes represent Catholicism’s structural accommodation of religious agency from the top: how leaders (as opposed to individual Catholics doing culture work on the ground) make room for choice and difference, organizationally. Personal parishes represent the cultural work of the Catholic Church as an institution.
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