The title of my piece in Sunday’s “Outlook” section of the Washington Post is “Who Is a Real Catholic?” and it is already garnering some tough comments in reaction. That may be because in pointing to the assimilation/engagement trend in American Catholicism, I point to the Catholic right as having substituted right-wing political strategies as the baseline threshold for being a good Catholic, where once a true Catholic culture and understanding of faith served that role.

My lede:

All you need to know to diagnose the state of the Catholic Church in America today is that Pope Benedict XVI — who has a knack for ticking off Muslims and Jews — spent the past week wandering the Middle East, yet Catholics here barely noticed. They were too busy fighting over Barack Obama’s appearance as commencement speaker at Notre Dame or arguing about the fate of a popular Miami priest known as “Father Oprah,” who was caught on camera sharing a seaside embrace with his girlfriend.

Check it out here. Let me know what you think. I’ll also be having a live web Q&A at 11am ET Monday on the story and the Obama at Notre Dame aftermath.

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