A look back, a look forward

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The Catholic Church has long had its divisions, but these divisions seem to have played out in very concrete ways this year, based U.S. Catholic's coverage in 2010.

We began the year with an in-depth look into the investigation of women religious, a story that is ultimately about various approaches to religious life. The question of ministry and vocation also play out in the relationships between generations of priests. Meanwhile the approval of the new translation of the Roman Missal has liturgists and the laity debating the purpose of the liturgy with passion. (We’ll continue to cover the implementation of the new Missal in the coming year.)

It would be too simple to say that divide that plagues the church is purely generational, as another article found that most young couples take or at least are accepting of different paths down the aisle toward marriage.

Gay marriage was a huge political issue in 2010, as discussed by the panel on Religion and Ethics Newsweekly (see video below), and discussion on USCatholic.org seems to indicate that Catholics cannot be counted on to line up on one side with this issue.

In political issues, the church has mirrored the country's polarization. The investigation of women religious was exacerbated in many people's minds when Sister Carol Keehan announced the Catholic Health Association's support of the health care reform legislation, despite the bishops' opposition. And the subtleties of pro-life politics played out in a very personal way for one Arizona mother, in a case that continues to spark debate about Catholic health care today.

We've also seen reaction against the Catholic Campaign for Human Development. There seems to be a general skepticism about the ability for any institution, whether the church or the government, to relieve poverty, and the idea of partnering with people you disagree with is now out of the question. The CCHD debate has both the laity and bishops divided. Still, while the bishops are in agreement about immigration reform, many laypeople aren't buying their perspective.

U.S. Catholic will continue to follow the immigration story in 2011 and beyond. For the church, how to enroll Hispanic students in Catholic schools will be the education story of the next decade (and February 2011 issue in particular).

We already looked back at Haiti a year after the January 12 earthquake, and we want to hear from you on whether the Gulf Coast oil spill this year affected your approach to environmental concerns. Be sure to look for a discussion of the continued challenge of Islam in America. This next year also brings with it the 10th anniversary of September 11.

An active website has helped us cover timely events both online and in the magazine, and we hope that you will help us continue to bring such coverage to the Catholic world by becoming involved in our online community of commenters and Twitter or Facebook followers. As we look ahead to all we have planned for 2011, we hope that you will also support us financially. May we all have a happy, and less divisive New Year!

Watch the full episode. See more Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly.