Essay Question (25 points)
Select one (and only one) of the following and defend the position in an essay of no more than 1,000 words:
1) The American Catholic Church stands on the verge of a full-fledged rift with the Vatican, as American Bishops move towards policies that are more open and inclusive of the laity, while the Vatican hierarchy stands firm on the top-down command-and-control structures of the past centuries. Provide specific policy examples, and compare the current crisis with past upheavals in the Church. Extra credit: Outline the conditions that could lead to an American Reformation, in which the Church in the United States fully and completely splits from the Vatican hierarchy, and assess whether such a split would be a positive or negative development for Christianity worldwide.
2) The crisis gripping the Catholic Church will not result in significant reforms, to the detriment of the Church’s hold on its American faithful. Catholicism will wane as a significant power in American spiritual life; membership will plummet as formerly devout Catholics drift away from a Church they no longer trust. The financial base of the Catholicism in the United States will crumble, forcing a significant retreat for the Church, which will be compelled to significantly scale back social programs and other spending both in the United States and worldwide, resulting in a smaller, less worldly institution focused inward on itself.
3) A third way will be found, in which satisfactory reforms will be implemented which restore American Catholics faith in the institution of the Church, while simultaneously remaining within the bounds set by the Vatican hierarchy. Describe in detail the steps that must be taken by the American Bishops, the concerned laity in the United States, and the Vatican for such a solution to come to pass, and why you believe such an outcome is feasible. Students successfully addressing this position will likely be asked to follow up with a precise six-week plan to achieve full and lasting peace in the Middle East.
Submit all essays to your section lead; exceptional responses will be shared with the class.
And remember: spelling counts.