What would happen if the Conference made a statement with no wiggle room, maintaining that if you did not agree with the Vatican on all of the issues above and many others, you should not receive the Eucharist (or say mass if you are a priest)? I am uncertain about what the relevant priests would do. But regarding the lay population I suspect a small percentage would stay in the Church and not partake in the Eucharist. Many would leave the Church. And most would simply ignore the Bishops.
I am curious what people think. Assuming their attempts to change minds about morals are for the most part futile, should the Bishops try for a smaller American church filled with people who agree with what they take to be the truth? Could they achieve a church that was homogeneous in belief even if they tried? Why are they not trying for a smaller church? The Vatican won't let them? They don't want it? Alternatively, is the Holy Spirit using the People of God to tell the Bishops something that they do not yet get? Or have the Bishops struck the exact right note?
First of all, statistics about who agrees with Church teachings and who doesn’t agree with Church teachings should serve merely to direct our efforts at catechesis. Molding doctrine and moral teachings to poll results is in the style of the Episcopalians and we can see how this is faring for them.
Secondly, the Church doesn’t ask for agreement but for humble obedience. Therefore, these various statistics are misleading. For example, let’s say a woman cannot quite get her head wrapped around the Church’s teaching on contraception. She is still praying and reflecting on it, but if asked if she personally agreed with it she might say no. However, if in spite of her misgivings she still humbly submits to the Church’s authority and does not use artificial contraception she is still very much in communion with the Church.
The bishops and clergy have a job to present the Truth. They do not adjust the message to manipulate membership numbers or to make the teaching more palatable. Christ himself when declaring that his followers must eat His Body did not back down from the Truth when disciples left saying, “This is too hard.”
These are only my meager thoughts. Robert Araujo, also at Mirror of Justice, has given a much more eloquent response. Please read his entire post but here is a sample:
God has called His people to holiness and to fidelity. What pollsters, interest groups, lobbyists, or individual theologians suggest and argue is nice to know. But, what God asks of us is pretty clear. When we need help to determine what that is, our Holy Mother the Church is there to help. Each person through his or her baptism has a role in evangelizing—going forth to bring the Good News to those who have not heard it. But, ultimately it is up to each of us to accept it or not. That is the free will God has given everyone; it is up to us to exercise it with fidelity. But if we chose not to on any particular occasion through our own insistence that my conscience, right or wrong, is the voice I follow, God will still be there to welcome us home if our sincere intention is ultimately to seek His forgiveness, understanding, and mercy.