There is a Catholic on each of the two party tickets running for president, a significant historical moment, as Chiesa notes.
“It is the first time that this has happened in the United States. They are competing for the vice-presidency. The bishops and the Catholic Church are divided, but the dispute is taking place in the light of the sun. To persuade, not to impose.
“ROME, August 30, 2012 – It’s a safe bet that next October, there will be much more noise over the trial at the Vatican of the pope’s unfaithful butler than over the inauguration of the year of faith, with the concomitant synod of bishops.
“But infidelity for infidelity, Benedict XVI has infinitely more at heart the destiny of the Catholic faith. Which, if here and there it seems to be sputtering out, in other places of the world is unexpectedly springing back to life.
“That atheism is typical of the West is a myth refuted by the facts. The latest major worldwide survey by Gallup on the issue sees first place go to China, where almost half of the population declares itself to be atheist, followed closely behind by Japan and South Korea.
“In Europe, disbelief is at home in France, in the Czech Republic, and in the former East Germany, but elsewhere its numbers are modest.
“And in the United States it is at the lowest of levels, with just 5 percent of the population, in spite of the fact that declaring oneself to be atheist no longer carries a social stigma as it did in the past.
“The United States, in the worldwide panorama of the Catholic Church, is the most impressive surprise. Just a few years ago, no one would have wagered on such a spectacular reversal of the trend. All of the indicators pointed to the worst: weak and frightened bishops, priests in disarray, vocations at a trickle, faithful without direction. The scandal of pedophilia had inflicted terrible damage on the credibility of the Church.
“But since Benedict XVI became pope, the signs in the United States are of recovery.
“A targeted series of appointments has propelled to the leadership of the episcopate a new managerial group, prepared and dynamic, Ratzingerian in doctrine and “affirmative” in the public sphere.
“With the scourge of pedophilia wiped out, the Catholic schools and parishes have returned to being among the safest places for children.
“And levels of confidence have spiked. According to the meticulous surveys of the Washington-based Pew Forum, in 2000 only 51 percent of American Catholics said that they were satisfied with their bishops, compared to 70 percent today.
“As for Pope Benedict XVI, 74 percent of Catholics say that they are satisfied with him, and among those who go to Sunday Mass the number rises to 85 percent. Ten years ago, with John Paul II at the height of his popularity, the satisfied were 72 percent.
“The renewed vitality of Catholicism in the United States has also spilled over into the field of politics. For the first time in history, the presidential election next November 6 will see two Catholics in the running for the role of vice-president: Joe Biden with the Democrat Barack Obama, and Paul Ryan with the Republican Mitt Romney.”