While the on-going feud in the Anglican communion has been providing hope to shore up alarmingly declining figures in the Catholic Church (see e.g,. Vol 11 No 2), via mass conversion from Anglicannism; this over 1 billion strong denomination whose head is seen as the “Vicar of the Son of God” on earth continues its desperate struggles to remain relevant in other arenas.
Her inter-faith agenda seems to be right on course with the recent warm embrace given the Pope by the moslem community in Sydney during the World Youth Day in July. There an Islamic school offered to host part of the catholic visitors and served as ushers in addition to hosting a papal interfaith event during the visit. (ZENIT NEWS AGENCY [Innovative Media] - July 16, 2008).
Also top of the news is the rumour that President Bush, just like Tony Blair before him, is set to convert to catholicism at the end of his presidential term. Bush has recently developed a strong relationship with the Pope and has made known his deep respect for Catholicism, pandering to its demands in several state matters. According to Rick Santorum, former U.S. senator and close confidant of Mr Bush, "I don't think there's any question about it. He's certainly much more Catholic than Kennedy." CATHOLIC NEWS AGENCY - June 16, 2008
However, these gains of the catholic church are hardly sufficient to offset the severe impact of declining figures, continued embarrassment from reports of gross immorality among top clergy and religious orders, and perhaps most hard-hitting of all, that a very large percentage of the teeming catholic crowd are merely “catholic” in name, neither believing in the church’s doctrine nor active in its practices. Responding to a survey conducted in the US by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, Denver Roman Catholic Arcbishop Charles Chaput said: "The statistics show, more than anything else, that many who describe themselves as Catholics do not know or understand the teachings of their church,….It also means that the church ought to work harder at evangelizing its own members." (ASSOCIATED PRESS June 23, 2008).
The call of Christ to anyone who accepts that His leadership and authority are still valid in this world, rather than vested in some other person or institution is clear: Come ye out of her, my people…..” (2 Cor 6:17, Rev 18:4)