One way of finding this meaning is to look at the increase of calls to a communion called the Evangelical Catholic Church.
In the wake of media coverage of Fr. James Radloff’s recent highly public departure from the Roman Catholic Church to seek incardination into the Evangelical Catholic Church as an active priest, the little known denomination had received 80 inquiries from former and current Catholic priests about reaffiliation as of May 6.
According to ECC spokesman William Morton, ECC Bishop James Wilkowski also “has in hand 19 inquiries from Roman Catholic women who have earned their Masters of Divinity Degrees and are considering their options with us.”
Formed in 1997, the ECC allows single or married male and female deacons, priests and bishops; grants “marital dissolution”; encourages divorced or remarried Catholics to return to “the full sacramental life of Catholicism”; recognizes same-sex marriages; and accepts birth control.
This sounds like the Evangelical Presbyterian Church of the Roman Catholic world.
(Thanks to John Fea) Then there is news that evangelical Protestants affirm Roman Catholic teaching more than Roman Catholics do. And this has implications for the so-called Religious Right and the ecumenism in the trenches of which ECTers are fond of invoking:
The 2007 Pew Poll found that 42% of Catholics expressed support for same-sex marriage versus 36% of the population as a whole. In terms of trends, 40% of Catholics supported same-sex marriage in 2001 with that number increasing to nearly 60% by 2014. By contrast, only 13% of Evangelicals favored same-sex marriage in 2001 and just 23% approve of it today.
Writing in The Atlantic, PRRI’s Robert Jones gets at the truth behind these numbers: “there is more support for official Roman Catholic Church positions among white evangelical Protestants than among Catholics.” But, as he notes, this isn’t a new trend; it’s the result of a two-decade long effort to cultivate “a new evangelical flock to compensate for the loss of lay Catholic support on cultural issues like abortion and same-sex marriage.”
The real Catholic-Evangelical convergence is between the Republican leadership, the Catholic bishops, right-wing Catholics, and rank-and-file Evangelicals, a coalition that was cemented by Karl Rove with his aggressive outreach to “conservative” Catholics during the Bush administration. But the fact that a big chunk of moderate and progressive Catholics are missing from this coalition continues to be lost on many in the media. It’s as if as long as the bishops are vocal in their objections to progressive polices and someone in the public is making noise, there’s a tendency to attribute it to “Catholics.” How else to explain the PPRI number that only 37% of Catholics oppose the contraception mandate in the Affordable Care Act, when the widespread perception that Catholics were broadly disapproving of it helped gin up early and critical opposition?
I’m sure Jason and the Callers have already factored these numbers into their call.