Can we “Identify as Catholic”? – Catholic World Report

“I identify as X” has replaced, in popular parlance, using an adjective to describe a person’s ethnic and sexual self-understanding. Witness, for example, how the New York Times’ reports on census and demographic data. Common terms like “Hispanic Americans” and “adult male” have been replaced by “Americans who identify as Hispanic” and “so-and-so, who identifies as male.” Can we use this expression with Catholicism? Can a person “identify as Catholic?” Or should “Catholic” only be used as an adjective, as in, “I am Catholic?” The choice of “identify as” reflects in language just how deeply our society has fallen into the quagmire of radical individualism. An adjective describes the characteristics of a noun; it tells us what the thing is, and implies what it is not. Colors provide a helpful perspective. “Blue” describes a property of a car. Even though colors are superficial attributes—they can be changed, and they do not affect the essence of a thing (a car is a car, regardless of its color)—they help define a particular thing as distinct from other things. They help set the terms for how we perceive and understand a thing.

Can we “Identify as Catholic”? – Catholic World Report

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