S+L logo

Thoughts on post-tribal Catholicism - by John L Allen Jr

April 15, 2011
The following article comes from author and Vaticanista John L Allen Jr:
Tensions surrounding Catholic identity are very much in the air these days, and when they erupt they’re always a prescription for heartburn. People who regard themselves as authentically Catholic rarely enjoy being be told they’re not, or that they’re only selectively so. Likewise, people who believe the faith they treasure is being misrepresented, or distorted, or eviscerated from within, typically get their Irish up.
A key question facing the church, therefore, is how to manage those tensions constructively. I offered some thoughts on that subject on Wednesday, at a conference in Chicago sponsored by DePaul’s Center for World Catholicism and Intercultural Theology and titled “The Discourse of Catholicity.”
My bottom line was that Catholicism needs a grass-roots movement to rebuild zones of friendship in the church.
I’m not talking about formal programs of dialogue, and I certainly don’t mean debating societies. What the church needs instead are spaces in which relationships among Catholics of differing outlooks can develop naturally over time. The plain fact of the matter is that such spaces have been badly attenuated by the ideological fragmentation of both the church and the wider world.
To be clear, friendship won’t magically make hard choices go away. Catholicism has to stand for something, and somebody has to decide what that is. There will be times when certain versions of Catholic identity have to be ruled out of bounds, and there will also be times when certain defenders of orthodoxy have to be reminded that it’s not their job to determine who’s in and who’s out. (Recent events at the University of Dallas illustrate the latter point, where Bishop Kevin Farrell recorded a web video responding to concern about a new undergraduate degree in pastoral ministry. Critics objected that the program is soft on Catholic identity, to which Farrell replied: “Let me remind the Catholic people of this diocese that … I’m the one who has to stand before God and say whether this is truly Catholic. That is my responsibility, and I do not take it lightly.”)
Continue reading
-
CNS photo/Jenna Teter, The Texas Catholic
 

Related posts

World Day of the Poor on S+L
FacebookTwitter
This Sunday is the 2nd World Day of the Poor. Watch this exclusive video with the president of Chalice and check out S+L's TV lineup. ...read more
SLHour: From Mountains High!
FacebookTwitter
Remember all those great church songs of the 70’s and 80’s? This week we speak with Ken Canedo about contemporary Catholic music from 1979 to 1985. ...read more
Deacon-structing Doctrine part 1: Doctrine vs. Dogma
FacebookTwitter
In January 2016 I wrote this post: Deacon-structing Mercy: Doctrine and someone sent me a comment. I had said something about the permanency of doctrine and that person was challenging my use of the w ...read more
The Virgin Mary floating down a street in the Canary Islands and Pope Francis above a door in Cologne? Check out the Weekly News Round-Up. ...read more
US bishops speak openly about their feelings regarding ex-cardinal McCarrick and expectations for new sexual abuse policies - and other stories. ...read more