It isn’t just Catholic officials, of course, pretending things are different than they actually are. Some branches of the Protestant church and probably religions around the world also play this game.
The Catholic Church sticks out, however, because it is centralized and its press professionals bring press coverage. The Church pretends people pay attention to its theological teachings on birth control and gay marriage. Polls show its own members pay almost no attention at all.
Pretending an institution is doing something while doing nothing of the sort is not the work of only religion. In politics we see it all the time.
For several years, the Republican Party said it was the party of “family values” that would stop gay marriage in its tracks. The Party actually was doing nothing to stop it and we all know it is legal in many states. There was a time when the Democrat Party said racial integration would never happenen. It was doing nothing to stop that either.
What will eventually happen to cause the Catholic Church hierarchy to stop pretending it is having an influence when it knows it is not? We’ve seen it before.
It will start to talk about other things and eventually not mention birth control or gay marriage any more. Even divorce and remarriage will have to be ignored soon.
The first steps are actually under way. The new Pope, even today, is talking about other topics.