I find it amazing that so many speak of the Catholic Church as narrow-minded or restrictive in its beliefs and practices. My experience of the Church is so much the opposite.
Catholicism is a Big Tent Church.
I have had direct or indirect experiences with the Catholic Church as found in Germany, Austria, Norway, Great Britian, Nigeria, Italy, China, Mexico, Canada and the United States. I have taken part on two occasions in the gathering of the world’s government and Church leaders for one purpose– to celebrate the Church’s faith and sacraments. There is no doubt that the Church is wider, higher, and more inclusive than any other human organization known to me. It celebrates the diversity of culture, language, custom, tradition of peoples and nations.
The only way I can figure out one can assert that the Catholic Church is narrow or small is if the one asserting this is limited in his or her experience and understanding of the Church. This is easy to do in the United States, for most have yet to confront the diversity of experiences people in other parts of the world often experience on a daily basis. We are such a big country that most live their entire lives in one cultural context, i.e., white Anglo America. I am not blaming them. It is the only thing available to them. Perhaps the influx of Hispanic immigrants will change all of this for them.
Those who think of the Church as narrow and small actually may find if they study her well that their protest or dissent is a smallness and narrowness. I would cite as example the ultra-conservative sect of the Society of St. Pius X and its offshoots, or the ultra-liberal groups such as Catholic for Choice. The former protests the Church’s ecclesiology and authority; the latter the Church’s right to preach and teach on issues of morality.
Yes, Catholicism is a Big Tent Church. Nations and other political bodies would do well to study her as an example of cultural diversity and organizational stability. It is so human and yet so divine!