Reading this article by John Allen, an image of a future struggle at a future Catholic nursing home popped into my head, as a Millennial liturgical director tries to force Boomer patients to learn more traditional music and ways of worship, depriving them of communion in the hand and "On Eagles' Wings."But I'm not sure about two points: First, he says that people who are mildly religious at 35 are going to be more religious after 65--is that the case given this crisis? Second, if most people, including Catholics, are becoming more broadly secularized, are they really going to want to put themselves in the hands of the more "distinctively Catholic" Milennials--or will the latter just drive them crazy and drive them away?There used to be room in the church for the B+ Catholic--who went to Church on Sundays, fulfilled his or her Easter duty, but who wasn't into all the other stuff, such as retreats, Eucharistic Processions, etc. In fact, most people who went to Mass when I was growing up--the pre-Boomers and the older Boomers--were B+ Catholics. I'm either a late boomer or an early Gen X. Most of my cohort has wandered off. They're not conservative or even "evangelical" --but they're not interested in staying and fighting either for change, either, like the older Boomers. I expect that's the majority of the next generation too.Will there be B+ Catholics in a church run by Millennials and ecclesiastical movements? If not, will the lack of B+ Catholics exacerbate the polarization between the "smaller, purer Church" and the rest of the increasingly secularized society?
Cathleen Kaveny is the Darald and Juliet Libby Professor in the Theology Department and Law School at Boston College.