It is hard to define Catholicism in a country or region in broad strokes (even though some journalists and spin doctors often speak about the "Global South" with daring condescension), but probably in no place more so than in America. All the major trends in the Catholic Church are to be found in the United States, home to the second largest number of priests and cardinals and to the third largest episcopate in the world: a Church in crisis, and in bloom; in disarray, but with growing influence.
Could it be mostly doom and gloom in American Catholicism? Yes, and quite probably. But, amazingly enough, in no other nation on earth there are so many islands of orthodox resistance, of love for Tradition, of strengthened passionately and unapologetically Catholic families. Traditional Catholicism, though still a very small minority, has found in America a great vitality, and it is almost certain that the nation of so many deviated priests and nuns has become the home of the largest number of Traditionalists in the world, even more so than France.
As Pope Benedict readies for his visit to Washington and New York in April, we remind our readers that, whatever Potemkin Village the Bishops of the United States may stage, there is an Archipelago of Hope in the American Church -- priests and religious, parents and children, linked in their common struggle: for Christ and His Holy Church.
We invite our friends and readers in the United States to send us reports from their own islands of optimism as the Pope goes to America.