Thursday, March 31, 2016

PINS supporting the Rock

PINS -- "Philippines, India, Nigeria, South Korea" -- John Allen, Jr.'s acronym for Catholic populations that will shape the Church's future.  

As with so much else, Allen hits the nail on the head here.  Over the past decade the West has recognized suddenly "global Christianity."  The faith is, and has been, growing there faster and more fervently than its traditional homes of North America and Europe.  An early, and certainly not the first nor the only, example is Philip Jenkins' The Next Christendom:  The Coming of Global Christianity (Oxford, 2002; revised edition, 2013).  Jenkins, as is his style, did not shy away from controversial conclusions, namely that "global Christianity" would be more conservative than its Euro-American predecessor.  Pope Francis' ascendancy to the Chair of Peter, despite the wide-ranging reservations and outright criticisms of the Holy Father, could be seen as validating Jenkins' argument.

Allen follows that path, contributing some real, up-to-date specifics.  First, all of these countries:

All four are nations where English is a primary language, and together they represent a vast pool of 130 million Catholics. (That includes 80.2 million in the Philippines, 19.7 million in India, 25.5 million in Nigeria, and 5.65 million in South Korea.)
That combined Catholic population is higher than that of the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand together, representing the traditional cradles of English-speaking Catholicism. And the trend lines are moving in opposite directions: As the faith struggles in the latter group, it’s exploding in the former.

On each of these Allen adds:


The country’s Catholic bishops have repeated their alarm over the spread of government-sanctioned gambling in casinos, after a mid-sized Filipino bank became embroiled in a robbery and money-laundering scheme.
Although religious leaders of all sorts have often taken a dim view of gambling, for the bishops of the Philippines the objection is less about Puritanical moralism and more about the risks of making corruption even worse.


Christians back in India itself are struggling with their own religious liberty concerns, after the government refused to issue entry visas for members of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom planning to make a fact-finding mission.
Presumably, the concern was that the commission might shine a spotlight on the way that religious minorities are increasingly feeling under pressure from right-wing, militant Hindu nationalism, which is encouraged by the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.


The ferment [over legislation proposing state regulation of religious ministries, Christian or Muslim] is a reminder that Nigeria will likely face a major headache for some time to come, which is how to give the state the tools it needs to combat deadly religious extremism – without also handing it tools it could use, were it so inclined, the gag mainstream religious leaders trying to give voice to civil society.

South Korea:

During the 1970s and 80s, widespread protest movements against South Korea’s authoritarian-style form of government, with backing from the military and police, eventually led the country into a more genuine and stable form of democracy.
The involvement of priests in the suit again Jee is a reminder that the Catholic Church in South Korea was a protagonist in the pro-democracy movement. One of the reasons often cited for the dramatic growth of Catholicism in the country in recent decades is the high social esteem in which the Church is held, because of the role it played in giving voice to the aspirations of a wide cross-section of the country.

Allen's Crux publication will soon move from The Boston Globe to support from The Knights of Columbus.  This continuity is crucial for all American Catholics, and especially the Catholic blogosphere because through Allen's good work--and that of others, like Rocco Palma of Whispers in the Loggia--the Church's micro- and macrocosmic developments remain accessible to us.  This is especially pertinent given the internationalization trend Allen discusses in this post.  As he himself notes:

If the issues seem remote or unfamiliar, remember that American or European preoccupations often strike these folks the same way – and, more and more, they’re going to be setting the Catholic tone, not us.

Read Allen's article here.

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