Friday, July 20, 2007


From L.A. Times:

The crisis has also contributed to a change in the way some Catholics perceive priests, who are traditionally viewed as God's representatives on Earth.

This viewpoint is shifting, according to Dean R. Hoge of the Catholic University of America. He is an expert on the sociology of religion and co-author of a new book, "American Catholics Today."

"Catholics distinguish between Jesus Christ and the institutional church," Hoge said. "People are too smart to believe that priests are representatives of God. These are men."

He characterized today's young Catholics as well-educated, culturally intelligent and "wide-awake" people. Two students at Loyola Marymount University in Westchester embody that view.

"Personally, I think there needs to be a line between God and the church," said graduate student Mike Santa Maria, 23. "There is a perfect God, but not a perfect church. If the church truly reflects its people, it must reflect its brokenness as much as its talents and treasures."

Senior Roxanne Gutierrez, 21, believes that all Catholics, not just priests, may be called to be representatives of God.

The crisis in the church, Hoge said, concerns human beings, not God.

"It's not Jesus Christ in crisis," he said. "It's not the Bible in crisis. It's the institution and decision-making that's in crisis. And, we have to repair the damage."

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