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The Message
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August 23, 1996     The Message
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urch in a Time of Peril be- ve ele" the it' an) ha' par. anC k o: hot ant and • e i t 3( ,oal= }eel irit. )ckS re- in" rgY, the ga- .age-. cer" The un" the as opening the to the trivializing cur- of the culture. The latter t rightly feared as becoming a a show or a spiritless in rubrics closed to the needs and gifts of the No effort to assess state of worship or develop translations or refresh skills escapes suspi- of moving to one extreme or pressure to move the opposite direction as a The same dynamic of fear and afflicts the church's from to accommodate lan- or practice to the chang- : consciousness of women to define theology's rela- te the hierarchy. Un- positions are espoused encountering moderat- ='criticism from sympathizers. these positions loom even as fears in the of opponents, generating l justifying their own unnu- positions. The end results distrust, acrimony and dead- IIo What will it take for the Catholic Church in the States to escape from this and the paralysis it engender? Jesus Christ, present in Scrip- te and sacrament, is central 'all that we do; he must al- !ys be the measure and not at is measured. round this central convic- ts, the church's leadership, clerical and lay, must reaf- and promote the full range 1 demands of authentic unity, :eptable diversity and re- .etful dialogue, not just as a Ly to dampen conflict, but as Pay to make our conflicts con- ctive and ultimately as a Ly to understand for ourselves articulate for our world the !aCing of discipleship of Jesus ist. s invitation to a revitalized olic common ground should ;he limited to those who e in every respect on an eri- C/ion for the church, but on- apses all  whether con- triers, moderates, liberals, radi- cals, conservatives or neocon- servatives  who are willing to reaffirm basic truths and to pur- sue their disagreements in a re- newed spirit of dialogue. Chief among those truths is that our discussion must be ac- countable to the Catholic tradi- tion and to the Spirit-filled, liv- ing church that brings to us the revelation of God in Jesus. To say this does not resolve a host of familiar questions about the way that the church has preserved, interpreted and communicated that revelation. Accountability to the Catholic tradition does not mean reversion to a chain of command, highly institutional understanding of the church, a model resembling a modern cor- poration, with headquarters and branch offices, rather than Vat- ican II's vision of a communion and a people. Nor does accountability mean conceiving of faith as an ideol- ogy, an all-encompassing doctri- nal system that produces ready explanations and practical pre- scriptions for every human ques- tion. Now, as historically, there has always been wide room for legitimate debate, discussion and diversity. But accountabil: ity does demand serious engage- ment with the tradition and its authoritative representatives. It rules out the pop scholarship, sound-bite theology, unhistorical assertions and flippant dis- missals that have become all too common on both the right and the left of the church. Authentic accountability rules out a fun- damentalism that narrows the richness of the tradition to a text or a decree, and it rules out a narrow appeal to individual or contemporary experience that ig- nores the cloud of witnesses over the centuries or the living mag- isterium of the church exercised by the bishops and the Chair of Peter. Authentic accountability em- braces the demands that the Gospel poses for our public life and social structures as well as for our private lives and per- sonal relations. This account- ability implies that the church, for all its humanness, cannot be treated as merely a human or- Golden Lyre Records Proudly Presents Keith Wells' Newest Recording A beautiful tribute to the Blessed Virgin featuring Gentle Woman • Schubert's Av Maria • Hail Holy Queen • Gounod's Av6 Maria • Immaculate Mary... and many more/ Still Available I Believe In Miracles Featuring, On Eagle's Wings. Prayer of St. Francis, Hosea • Here I Am, Lord • Be Not Afraid... and many more! check or money order with the form below: Not Sold in Stores Make check or money order payable to: Golden Lyre Records • P.O. Box 1100. West Acton, MA 01720 ' AIbum.Titl Format Price Amount ,,   Compact Disc $15.95 $ • ,.   CassetteTape $12.95 $ ,., I Believe in Miracles Compact Disc $15.95 $_ ,., I Believe in Miracles Cassette Tape $12.95 $ /! Shipping and Handling (One Time Per Order) $ 2.95 I!! ) Total Enclosed $ , '" State ZipCode 100% 30-day money back guamnteett EIN ganization. The church is a cho- sen people, a mysterious com- munion, a foreshadowing of the kingdom, a spiritual family. One implication of this is that the hermeneutic of suspicion must be balanced with a hermeneutic of love and re- trieval. Another is that an es- sential element of Catholic leadership must be wide and serious consultation, especially of those most affected by church policies under examination. The church's ancient concept of reception reminds us that all the faithful are called to a role in grasping a truth or incorpo- rating a decision or practice into the church's life. Finally this accountability recognizes that our discussions about the Catholic Church take place within boundaries. Ex- actly how the boundaries of Catholic Christianity should be formulated will inevitably be open at times to re-examination and debate. So too will our atti- tudes toward whatever falls outside those boundaries. But the very idea of boundaries is a necessary premise, without which no identity can exist. In- clusivity, a concept that can op- erate at many levels, becomes a catchword and even a self-con- tradiction when it impugns any efforts to make distinctions or set defining limits. " 7" The revitalized /Catholic common • • ground, we sug- gested, will be marked by a will- ingness to approach the church's current situition witli' fsh" eyes, open minds and changed hearts. It will mean pursuing disagreements in a renewed spirit of dialogue. Specifically, we urge that Catholics be guided by working principles like these: • We should recognize that no single group or viewpoint in the church has a complete monopoly on the truth. While the bishops united with the pope have been specially en- dowed by God with the power to preserve the true faith, they too exercise their office by taking counsel with one another and with the experience of the whole church, past and present. Solu- tions to the church's problems will almost inevitably emerge from a variety of sources. • We should not envision our- Praying Hands Cross 10" $24.95 Bronze Corpus on 10" Cross $24.95 Allow 2 weeks for delivery G. Miller P.O. Box #4744 Evansville, IN 47724 i u Ul i RESTAURANT SPECIALIZING IN DELICIOUS GERMAN FOOD PRIME RIB CHARBROILED STEAQK COUNTRY FRIED CHICKEN SFJkFOOOS • SALAD BAR BANQUET ROOM FOR PRIVATE PARTIES FOR/UL YOOR C4TERING NEEDS, C/ttL I 482-2640 ] 'Common Ground': United States by ! it in recent decades. project, with James R. ] University, assisting as project secretary. BISHOPS: • Cardinal • - Cardinal Roger M. Mahony • Archbishop Oscar • Archbisho • Archbishop Rembert • Retired Bishol OTHERS: • Former Gov. Robert P. • Jesuit Father Brian E. Daley, merly at Weston School ol at the University of Notre Dame. - • Thomas J. Donnelly, a Pittsburgh thropist. • Father Virgilio Elizondo, founder of thl Cultural Center in San Antonio. • Mary Ann Glendon, a law • Sister Doris GottemoeUer, of the Americas. "Father J. Bryan Hehir, counselor for and a professor m School. le *^Fathers= Robert Imbelli, a • St. Joseph Sister Elizabeth A sor at Fordham University: • Msgr. Philip J. Murnion, foder and tional Pastoral Life Center. • Judge John T: Noonan Appeals in San Francisco. • Michael Novak, religion and public policy selves or any one part of the church a saving remnant. No group within the church should judge itself alone to be pos- sessed of enlightenment or spurn the mass of Catholics, their leaders or their institu- tions as unfaithful. • We should test all propos- als for "their pastoral realism and potential impact on living individuals as well as for their theological truth. Pastoral ef- fectiveness is a responsibility of leadership. • We should presume that those with whom we differ are acting in good faith. They de- serve civility, charity and a rather than as differences in de- gree or in prudential pastoral judgments about the relevant facts. • We should bring the church to engage the realities of con- temporary culture, not by sim- ple defiance or by naive acqui- escence but acknowledging, in the fashion of "Gaudium et Spes," both our culture's valid achievements and real dangers. Ultimately, the fresh eyes and changed hearts we need cannot be distilled from guide- lines. They emerge in the space created by praise and worship. The revitalized Catholic com- i mon ground will be marked by a good-faith effort to understand determined pastoral effort to their concerns. We should not • keep the liturgy, above all, from substitute labels, abstractions becoming a battleground for or blanketing terms  "radical confrontation and polarization, feminism,""the hierarchy, "the and to treasure it as the com. Vatican" -- for livingS-:compli 'mon worship of God through cated realities. "i Jesus Christ in the communion • We should put the t of the Holy Spirit. sible construction on differing It is imperative that the positions, addressing their Catholic Church in the United strongest points rather than States confront the issues and seizing upon the most vulnera- forces that are- shaping the fu- ble aspects in order to discredit ture. For this, we must draw on them. We should detect the all the giRs of wisdom and un- valid insights and legitimate worries that may underlie even questionable arguments. * We should be cautious in ascribing motives. We should not impugn another's love of the church and loyalty to it. We should not rush to interpret dis- agreements as conflicts of starkly "opposing principles derstanding in the church, all the charisms of leadership and communion. Each of us will be tested by encounters with cul- tures and viewpoints not our own; all of us "ill be refined in the fires of enuine engage- ment4 and the whole church will be strengthened for its mission : in the new millennium.