Cultural Catholic?

by | May 31, 2009 | Catholicism

Sunday’s Houston Chronicle contains a piece of filler from the NYT about Judge Sotomayor, stating that if confirmed she would be the sixth of nine judges who are Roman Catholic, but unlike four of the other five, who are “committed attenders [sic] of Mass, and …make up the court’s solid conservative block”…. “indications are that Sotomayor is more like the majority of the U.S. Catholics” She is a “cultural Catholic”. That is “those who were raised in the faith and shaped by its values, but who do not attend Mass regularly and are not particularly active in religious life.

This comment surprised me, as I have never heard the term a “cultural Catholic”. I looked it up in Wikipedia:

A cultural Catholic is an individual who belongs to the Catholic Church but observes the religion’s practices as a cultural tradition rather than a spiritual exercise. Cultural Catholics may not fully understand the theology that informs the religion’s rituals, or may reject part or most of the theology as outdated or irrelevant to modern life. … Cultural Catholics regard the sacraments of the Catholic Church (e.g. baptism, first communion, confirmation and a wedding in a Catholic Church) as important milestones in life, without necessarily attaching much spiritual significance to the events.

Anna Quindlen defined Cultural Catholics as, “Catholicism is to us now not so much as a system of beliefs or a set of laws but a shared history. It is not so much our faith as our past.”

On this Pentecostal Sunday I’m confused, how can a person define himself as Catholic without it being Spiritual? I’m asking for comments today. What do you think? How would you identify yourself under this definition?