Ross Douthat seems close to despondence:
[W]e may have reached the end of a distinctive "Catholic moment" ... in American politics, one that began in the 1980s after John Paul’s ascension to the papacy and the migration of many Catholic "Reagan Democrats" into the Republican Party....
[I]t's partially because institutional Christianity is weaker over all than a generation ago, and partially because Catholicism’s leaders have done their part, and then some, to hasten that de-Christianization.
Or we might call this another "Popular Front moment"--a time, as in 1939, when the epochal cynicism of a vast ideology becomes all too apparent to its adherents; a time when even the truest of true believers are shocked back into the squalid reality of a saving power's naked opportunism; a time when great holy men of historical forces and, as advertised, transcendent truths merely scramble for momentary shelter and secular survival.
A Popular Front moment as a Great Awakening.
Douthat puts it mildly: "Any church that presides over a huge cover-up of sex abuse can hardly complain when its worldview is regarded with suspicion."
Does Douthat regard it so? I doubt it; but the more proper answer is, Who cares? And I say that not to demonstrate indifference to his spiritual pain, but because Douthat himself reinforces our suspicion that much of his higher worldview is but a tawdry, partisan ploy:
[B]etween Mitt Romney’s comments about the mooching 47 percent and the White House’s cynical decision to energize its base by picking fights over abortion and contraception, both parties spent 2012 effectively running against Catholic ideas about the common good.
Now that's cynicism--indeed two major counts of it; a hypocrisy so meretriciously blatant it stands laughably self-exposed.
And that's an ill beginning on any virtuous road to recovery, Mr. Douthat.
It occurs that the "Popular Front" may, even to historically literate readers, be just obscure enough by now that some explanation is in order.
In brief, the Popular Front was Stalin's internationally unified political force against fascism's rise in the 1930s, which many noble anti-fascists and confirmed pro-communists heartily endorsed. Then came the rudest of awakenings: Stalin's secretly negotiated, 1939 non-aggression pact with Nazi Germany, which instantly reversed international communism's anti-fascist propaganda--now fresh propaganda which, upon Germany's treacherous invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941, had to be reversed yet again.
Needless to say, many a socialist's confidence in any sort of insuperable ideology was fatally destroyed in those years. And rightly so.