I found Adam Lee's recent piece on Patheos, "Who Speaks for American Catholics?", to be very thoughtful and well written. Even though he seems to use the title rhetorically he does skirt around a far better question for US Catholics. The question is itself pretty simple. Why are you "Catholic"?
Numerous studies and surveys have revealed that the average American Catholic does not agree with the policies of the hierarchy. They also do not seem to either know or support those practices and doctrines that separate the Catholic Church from the various other Christian sects/denominations. So why stay in a church that doesn't really represent what you actually believe and practice? It is not as if you have to be specifically Catholic to uphold your perception of Christian values and practices.
The rationale that it is cultural or traditional is only partially acceptable. It cannot be all that is in play. Americans both as a whole and with the context of the American Catholic community have altered or even set aside other traditions and customs over the years. A sense of identity as a rationale is also only partial.
This situation is very baffling. If anyone has any further thoughts on why so many choose to remain attached to an organization that clearly does not represent them or serve their actual values I would love to hear them.