Maintaining Catholic identity a hot topic

Some may remember John Dilulio as the one-time head of President Bush’s Faith-Based and Community Initiatives office who resigned early on and criticized the president to Esquire magazine.

It was way back in August 2001, before 9/11 even.

Dilulio is now a political scientist based at the University of Pennsylvania. He writes a lot about religion, in particular his Catholic faith.

Next Tuesday (Nov. 8), he will be speaking at St. Theresa’s Church in Briarcliff Manor, continuing the parish’s unbelievably good (and free) lecture series run by parishioner and former Newsweek religion editor Ken Woodward.

Dilulio’s topic is especially timely: “Maintaining Catholic Identity: Right and Wrong Ways to Do It.”

It’s timely because a new study found that Catholic identity may be weakening for many Catholics.

For instance: About 40 percent of Catholics said you can be a good Catholic without believing that the bread and wine of Mass become the actual body and blood of Jesus. Only about 30 percent support the Magisterium — the teaching power of the Catholic Church.

Anyone who knows a lot of Catholics (and talks to them about their faith and beliefs) can’t be that surprised by these findings.

It will be interesting to hear what Dilulio, a self-described “extreme centrist,” will say about how to maintain Catholic identity. And how not to do it.