Sunday, August 26, 2012


   Unhappily, the vision of the 21st century Catholic on the, "A 21st CENTURY VISION" page of this blog, shows us more what should be than what will soon be.  The way forward will be hard and long.  To begin with, we have to be clear away three important negatives.

   We can call our vision, "Love One Another." (Jn. 13:34).  Our Catholic faith is our way of living in Christ, who is our Way, our Truth and our Life. (Jn. 14:6).  Vatican II's Constitution on the Church begins with the Latin words,  Lumen gentium.  The council purposely proclaims that Christ (not the church) is the light of the world.  The difference is very important.  We belong first and foremost to God in the Spirit of Christ; secondly to the church.

   Therefore, in obedience to God in the Spirit of Christ, we will not relate to the church on the following terms:

1.  Organizational Corruption
   We will not relate to the church's corrupt, power structure.  Further, as we see in the case of Msgr. William Lynn of Philadelphia, who is in prison for obeying the corrupt power system, the corrupt power structure is now also criminal.

2.  Theological Stagnation 
    We will not give blind obedience to church leaders, or to anyone. 
    We refuse to accept the medieval, exclusively abstract way of understanding the truth, along with the stubborn refusal to respect contemporary ways to uncover ever-evolving facets of the truth, including the spiritually valid, everyday experiences and discernment of the laity.  
   We reject the moral/spiritual prison into which church leaders have locked themselves by refusing to admit that they were ever wrong in the past or could be wrong now and in the future.

3.  Spiritual Anemia
   We will not relate to any church leader who does not respect our equal baptismal dignity, e.g., as expressed in our personal vocations and in our valid sense of the faith.  
   We decry the absence of effective, adult spiritual formation and prophetic inspiration.  
   We reject the attacks on serious theologians.
   We reject a liturgy that does not inspire us to pray and worship in the full beauty and meaning of our own language.

   We will give assent of our intellect and will to the teachings of church leaders when these teachings are clearly shown to be the teachings of the whole church.  For this to be true, these teachings will have to include the ever-evolving sense of the faith of the entire church, e.g., they will have to include respect for the laity's valid spiritual experiences and discernment, the contributions of leading theologians, and a humble, listening dialogue with today's world.  
   Finally, these teachings will then have to be explained to us in terms that make sense in the conditions of today's world.
   Realistically then, being a 21st century Catholic means living, discerning, prophetic lives, for the most part, alone or in small groups.  In further posts, we will discuss ways to move forward toward realizing the vision.     

   Further Readings:  Click RESPONSIBLE FAITH in the right hand column of this blog.  Then scroll down to the bottom of that page and click, "Blog."  You will find Dr. Don Fausel's excellent article, "Obedience to Authority and Loyal Dissent."  

   Click the SPIRITUAL DISCIPLINES page on this blog and go to No. 9, "Obedience."

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