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The Obama-Catholic row continues

Justin Webb | 22:31 UK time, Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Sunday 17 May is still D-day in the war between Barack Obama and the Catholic hierachy, with neither side standing down, in fact rather the opposite.

I hope this has nothing to do with it - Notre Dame as the Kent State de nos jours?

But it is a war, and in a war vice-presidents are not the only human beings who convince themselves that special measures are acceptable.

The position of the Catholic Chuch in President Obama's America is going to be one of the fascinating sub-plots to the main story over the next few years. There is a quite brilliant book just out (full disclosure: I know one of the authors) which argues that American religion - or more precisely the American approach to religion, as a set of choices in a spiritual market-place - is being exported successfully around the world.

But the book also makes the point that within the US, the Catholic Church is in many ways a failing institution:

"The Catholic Church has lost more people to other denominations or to no religion at all than any other religious group," it says.

The shortfall is made up, of course, by South American immigrants. Socially conservative immigrants.

So the Obama-friendly wing of the Church is in decline, and the hard-line anti-Obama wing is on the up.

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