This is the problem with the internet mentality of proof-texting unfamiliar sources, count-your-change.
Fortunately, your excerpt included the statement, “a predominantly critical article should not, however, ignore the positive side of Kung’s book.” He does NOT suppose that an article should NOT be predominantly critical. Rather, he notes that among all the criticisms of Kung’s work, there are some notable points worth taking. This is critical in Ratzinger’s work; if you merely dismiss objectionable works without finding what is appealing in them, you are hopeless to counter them.
As for “what must the average Catholic think,” the failure of Catholic leaders in recent decades is self-evident and scandalous. But what is the alternative? Protestantism, which continuously deeper and deeper into heresy, while the conservatives cordon themselves off into tinier and tinier schisms? The Catholic Church’s faithfulness is on the rebound, after having absorbed so many errors of mainstream protestantism. What Protestant denomination is so rebounding? PCUSA? The Episcopal Church? ELCA? Disciples of Christ? Church of Christ? American Baptists? National Baptists?
I’ll give you one: the Southern Baptist Convention, which in 1973 was pro-choice, pro-birth-control, pro-masturbation and pro-divorce. But who do you think talked some sense into them?
So why do polls paint Catholics as so liberal? Catholics tend to live in major cities and the northeast. As such, they are in a far more liberal millieu than Protestants, but Catholics always vote far more conservative than the Protestants who surround them: In 2004, the majority of Catholics from Massachusetts voted against John Kerry! But most Catholics are from New York, New Jersey, Illinois, Massachusetts, California, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, etc. And fallen-away Catholics still identify as Catholics, while fallen-away Protestants usually cease to identify with a particular denomination at all, and these fallen-away Catholics usually adopt the prevalent values of the cultures they live in. Which is these states is outrageously left-wing, and formed by mainstream Protestantism.
So has the failure to draw a sharp contrast between Catholic/Christian values and the larger culture been harmful to Catholicism? Yes, it’s been absolutely devastating. But the Catholics in America are not adrift, theologically, to Your Own Persional Interpretation of Scripture. Those that have clung to tradition have made fantastic progress in righting the ship. Who will right the Protestants’ ship as evangelicals succumb to liberalism?
Fortunate or not, it was intentional as the excerpt was not taken as approval or agreement with the entire contents of the book but only to show that an endorsement is in its self quite an honor when it comes from someone of note.
Just so there's no confusion of terms: an endorsement is not to be taken as anything more than a recommendation, not total agreement, not a stamp of approval but just a recommendation for consideration.
When it comes to the use and misuse of labels, “Protestant” surely must be amongst one the most misused.
Many so-called “Protestant” groups differ from one another as much or more than Protestantism as a whole differs from Catholicism so simply using “Protestant” to mean “non-Catholic” but nominally Christian distorts the meaning of both.
The division of both Catholicism and Protestantism into ever more fragments is to be expected.
One can be liberal, conservative, libertarian, socialist, communist, or whatever other “ist” and “ism” conceivable and still be recognized inwardly and outwardly as Catholic, Protestant, or “other”.
In short, the divisions under the umbrella “Catholic” are just as deep and numerous as under...say..”Baptist”.
As you write: “ The Catholic Churchs faithfulness is on the rebound, after having absorbed so many errors of mainstream protestantism. What Protestant denomination is so rebounding?”
I'm at a loss to what ‘rebound in faithfulness’ you're talking about unless it means the tamping down of scandal involving priests. That must be certainly be a welcome relief.
Again you raise a central question: “So why do polls paint Catholics as so liberal?”
Your analysis points to assimilation of community values from a more liberal community culture. But in saying:
“But the Catholics in America are not adrift, theologically, to Your Own Persional Interpretation of Scripture”,
You error greatly. If the Catholic majority voted against John Kerry in Massachusetts with his views of abortion (infanticide by any reckoning) then by what theological justification did other Catholics vote For him? Or for that other Catholic politicians of even more liberal stance?
Which Bishops are explaining to the Catholic faithful that Scripturally what one lends their support to they become participants in? It's one thing to rob a bank but how much different is it to knowingly hire a bank robber as a teller?
As for “fallen away Catholics” identifying as “Catholic” they are simply reflecting and agreeing with Catholic teaching and law.
“Who will right the Protestants ship as evangelicals succumb to liberalism?”
A good question seeing the Catholic faithful are being encouraged to be more like the evangelicals.