The Body of Christ: A Sociological Perspective on Current Membership of the Roman Catholic Church in America
Taking an objective and critical look at the current state of the Catholic Church in the United States, this paper attempts to show how a conservative image of the church affects membership. It first sets out to prove the conservative nature of the American image of Catholicism. It then shows how the image has affected Catholic membership. This is broken into two sections, one explaining why Americans may stay away from the church and the second why they may be attracted. Theories such as religious economy and rational choice figure in these sections as well as the Catholic identity, Mass, culture and current response of the laity to the hierarchy. The conclusion recaps and relates all major points to a prospect of the future of membership. Will the Catholic Church endure the new modem and critical century?