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Homosexuals in the seminary; A Global Church in a Globalized World
National Catholic Reporter ^ | September 23, 2005 | John Allen

Posted on 09/23/2005 2:40:55 PM PDT by NYer

Many readers undoubtedly have questions about reports concerning a new Vatican instruction on the admission of homosexuals to seminaries. I'll have analysis in the near future, though one note of caution is in order: we don't yet have the document, and as always with church texts, the devil is in the details.

That's particularly true with this instruction, since the Vatican has already twice published documents indicating that homosexuals should not be admitted to the priesthood (a document from the Congregation for Religious in 1961 and another from the Congregation for Divine Worship in May 2002). To what extent the new instruction will mark a change in policy, and what its practical impact may be, therefore remains to be seen.

* * *

I'm in the United States this week, on a speaking tour that takes me to Chicago, Cleveland, New York, New Haven, and Miami. As always, moving across the country in this way is an opportunity to reconnect with American Catholics, listening to their concerns and dreams for the new pontificate, "taking the temperature" of the American church.

While there are obvious tensions -- disillusionment related to the sexual abuse scandals, frustration that church leaders do not always seem committed to collaboration with laity, and so on -- what comes across at least in equal measure is the dynamism of the American Catholic world. One has but to show up at almost any parish, university or conference in the country to find scores of theologically literate, committed Catholics, clergy and lay, engaged in a bewildering variety of ministries. The fractiousness that sometimes characterizes American Catholics is, in that sense, the flip side of their passion; indeed, I sometimes wonder if the high blood pressure you sometimes find in American Catholic circles isn't related to the fact that Americans simply have higher expectations of the church than, say, many Europeans. (As Augustine put it, anger is the daughter of hope; cynics generally don't get angry).

On Sept. 20, I gave a lecture at Dominican University in River Forest, Illinois, sponsored by that institution's Siena Center, whose mission is "to bring faith and scholarship to the critical issues of church and society." The topic I was asked to address was "A Global Church in a Globalized World," trying to think about what the historic North/South shift currently underway in global Christianity might mean for Roman Catholicism in the 21st century. What follows is my text.

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Premise
While it's almost always a helpful discipline to consider issues from multiple points of view, it's essential in Roman Catholicism, one of the most truly global institutions on earth, with 1.1 billion members scattered in every nook and cranny of the planet. If, as Mark Twain once said, "a conclusion is generally where someone got tired of thinking," then we Catholics needs to be distance runners in the thoughtful consideration of the perspectives of others.

Let me tell one story to illustrate the point.

In September 2001, the Vatican issued a controversial document called Dominus Iesus, about the relationship between Christianity and other world religions. While the heart of its teaching was that the church cannot abandon its faith in Christ as the unique and lone savior of humanity, it also ruffled feathers by asserting that adherents of other religions are in a "gravely deficient" situation with respect to Christians.

Just after it appeared, I attended a workshop for rectors of seminaries around the world, held in Rome at the Casa Tra Noi, down the street from my office. In one workshop, a Jesuit theologian led a discussion on Dominus Iesus. A rector from Bangalore in India popped up and said, "This document is a disaster. It has destroyed our dialogue with Hinduism, since they don't understand these exclusivist claims." Next a rector from St. Petersburg in Russia jumped up to say, "No, you've got it all wrong. This document has saved our dialogue with the Russian Orthodox, because they have an even higher Christology than we do, and this is the first Vatican document since the Council they've been excited about."

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The same document, filtered through two different cultural perspectives, produced diametrically opposed reactions. Catholicism finds itself increasingly faced with the challenge of making room for the instincts, concerns, and aspirations of an astonishing variety of cultural backgrounds. Church officials in a globalized world have to be concerned not merely with how something will play in Peoria, but also in Beijing, in Tehran, in Kinshasa, and in Kiev.

This observation does not mean that all perspectives are equally valid, which would flirt with a kind of relativism, or that the complexity of factoring in all the variables should become an excuse for inaction. Eventually, leaders have to lead. But it does suggest that if we struggle sometimes to understand why our leaders do what they do, or why Catholics from other parts of the globe don't react as we do, sometimes the answer has to be sought by seeing through their eyes.

Setting the Table

Let me offer a few rather random facts and figures about global Catholicism, and try to tease out a few implications. This is by no means a comprehensive survey, merely some basic data and observations that I hope will be useful for further conversation.

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1) American Catholics
The 67 million Catholics in the United States represent 6 percent of the global Catholic population of 1.1 billion. We are the fourth largest Catholic country in the world, after Brazil (144 million), Mexico (126 million), and the Philippines (70 million).

Despite impressions of a rocky relationship with the Vatican, much of the rest of the Catholic world believes the American church already gets too many strokes from Rome. For example, we have 6 percent of the population, but 12 percent of the bishops in the Catholic church and 14 percent of the priests. In fact, the United States has more priests by itself than the top three Catholic countries combined (41,000 in the U.S. to 37,000 in Brazil, Mexico and the Philippines).

As another index, we have 13 cardinals (11 of whom are "electors," meaning under 80 and hence eligible to vote for the pope), as opposed to Brazil, with 8 cardinals (4 electors), Mexico, with 5 cardinals (4 electors), and the Philippines, with 2 cardinals (1 elector). In the last conclave, American votes counted for more than Mexico, Brazil, and the Philippines combined, 11 to 9. (Those three countries represent a block of 340 million Catholics, more than 30 percent of the global total). American votes also outnumbered all of Africa (10 electors).

This context is important to keep in mind when American Catholics wonder why Rome seems to be slow to respond to our crises and needs. From the point of view of many in the Catholic church, America has been at the top of the heap for too long.

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2) The Global South
Africa: Africa in the 20th century went from a Catholic population of 1.9 million in 1900 to 130 million in 2000, a growth rate of 6,708 percent, the most rapid expansion of Catholicism in a single continent in 2,000 years of church history. Thirty-seven percent of all baptisms in Africa today are of adults, considered a reliable measure of evangelization success since it indicates a change in religious affiliation. The worldwide average, by way of contrast, is 13.2. Islam in Africa grew equally dramatically in the same period; today there are 414 million Muslims in Africa. These numbers will continue rising, since Africa has one of the world's most dramatic rates of population growth. Along with the rapid expansion in Catholic population has come an explosion in African bishops, priests, brothers, sisters, and deacons. There are today more than 600 African bishops and almost 30,000 priests, and Africa and Asia each number approximately 30,000 seminarians. In 2004, roughly 20 priests were ordained for all of England and Wales, while Nigeria alone ordained more than 200.

Asia: Asia went from 11 million Catholics to 107 million, a growth rate of 861 percent. Much of this growth, however, is accounted for by demographics rather than conversions, above all in the Philippines. There are only about 37 million Catholics in all of Asia outside the Philippines. (A reported 13 million are in China). Pope John Paul II defined Asia as the great missionary horizon of the church in the 21st century, and that ambition certainly has something to do with the importance attached by the Holy See to diplomatic relations with China. Given the obvious stirrings of spiritual interest in China, and the reality that there is no dominant religious institution in the country, some China-watchers believe an opening on religious liberty could be followed by a rapid burst of Christian expansion. If there are 13 million Chinese Catholics today, there could be 100 million within a couple of generations. Further, just as Latin America set the theological tone for the church in the 1980s with the Liberation Theology movement, today Asian theologies of religious pluralism, reflecting on how Christianity should understand the role of religious diversity in God's providence, set the agenda. We'll come back to this later.

Latin America: Latin America is home to roughly half the world's Catholics, at 520 million. Four of the ten largest Catholic countries in the world are in Latin America: Brazil, Mexico, Colombia and Argentina. Despite its youth and dynamism, the church in Latin America is in some ways under siege, facing pressure from the so-called "sects.," aggressively missionary neo-Protestant movements, often charismatic and Pentecostal. Guatemala, for example, was 95 percent Catholic a generation ago; today it is 60 percent. Peru was 97 percent Catholic at the time of a 1992 national census; in 2002, the figure was 75 percent. Similar figures could be repeated in many other nations. While some observers argue that many of these conversions are either transient or incomplete, pointing to the phenomenon of the "Guadalupe Protestant" (i.e., a evangelical who still takes part in Guadalupe festivals, prays the rosary, and so on), the evidence seems to be that most Latin Americans who became evangelical at least a decade ago have remained in an evangelical church rather than returning to Catholicism.

There's a strong sense among many Latin American Catholics that their time is coming to offer leadership to the universal church. In effect, the runner-up in the conclave of 2005 was a Latin American, Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina, and many cardinals believe the Latin Americans will be strong runners the next time around.

Summary: Philip Jenkins estimated in The Next Christendom that by 2050, only one-fifth of the world's Christians will be non-Hispanic Caucasians. Increasingly, power and influence in global Christianity will shift with population. Manila and Nairobi and Abuja will be, in a sense, what Leuven and Paris and Milan were for much of church history, i.e., the leading centers of intellectual and pastoral energy in the church. Leadership will come from these regions, and the issues of concern to the South will increasingly become the priorities of the global church.

3) The Middle East
This is a small, but politically and theologically important, constituency. There are roughly 2.1 million Catholics in union with Rome in the Middle East, with the largest groupings in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, and the Holy Land. These populations are in decline, as the pressures of the Intifadah, economic stagnation, and the rise of Islamic radicalism are driving them away. Today there are more Palestinian Christians in Australia, for example, than in Palestine. In the town of Bethlehem, the proportion of the population which is Christian has dropped from 80 percent before 1948 to less than 33 percent today. There is considerable alarm that the out-migration of Chaldean Christians from Iraq will accelerate due to fears about weak religious freedom provisions in the country's new constitution. It is almost impossible to overestimate the importance of these trends for understanding the foreign policy of the Holy See. At the symbolic level, the idea that the land of Christ might be empty of Christians, that the holy sites might become museums (like Hagia Sophia in Istanbul) is a subject of deep psychological alarm. Practically, the Holy See worries that if Christianity disappears from the Arab world, then a value bridge between the West and Islam will be lost. Hence while their numbers may be small, the fate of Arab Christians looms large in the imagination of Vatican policy-makers.

1) Europe
Europe claims 283 million Catholics, but in many places the practice of the faith is relatively inert; in countries such as Belgium, France and Holland, for example, rates of weekly Mass attendance dip as low as five percent. This is true for all the traditional Christian denominations. There are now more Muslims who go to Mosque on Friday in Great Britain, for example, than Anglicans who go to church on Sunday. Europe's fertility rates are also dropping; the lowest rates in human history, roughly 1.2 percent, have been recorded in Italy and Spain, traditionally Catholic nations. As one small but significant window into the historic shift underway, it's worth pointing out that today there is only one actual Roman among the 181 members of the College of Cardinals, retired 88-year-old Cardinal Fiorenzo Angelini. In the conclave of April, not a single Roman cast a vote, despite the fact that historically the College of Cardinals is supposed to represent the clergy of Rome. That point alone symbolizes the gradual de-centering of Italy, and of Europe, underway in the Catholic church.

In Eastern Europe, by way of contrast, rates of Mass attendance and vocations are generally higher, outside the Czech Republic and former Eastern Germany, where Soviet-era atheism made its greatest inroads. In some places in Eastern Europe, such as Ukraine, Catholic communities are experiencing a Renaissance, related to the sensation of having survived the Soviet period with new confidence and a sense of mission.

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Themes from the South

Given this overview, one point seems clear: in the Catholicism of the 21st century, the global south, perhaps especially Africa and the Philippines, will play increasingly important roles in setting the global agenda. As this shift unfolds, as the voice of the south is heard, what themes are likely to emerge? Without any pretense of being comprehensive, here are five:

Inculturation: Catholicism is one faith, but it has to be expressed through many cultures. Striking the right balance between unity and diversity will be a defining challenge in the church of the future, especially as a faith incubated in Europe and the West continues to expand and come of age in cultures with very different attitudes, instincts and modes of expression. Generally speaking, theologians and prelates from the developing world will push for greater freedom to adapt Eurocentric models of worship and doctrinal expression of the Western church to their own circumstances. Further, as immigration and cultural mobility increasingly bring the South to the doorstep of the West, the patterns of thought, life and worship of the South will more and more be part of the warp and woof of the church everywhere. Liturgy is one arena in which this tension will work itself out. These trends may push the envelope in terms of Western sensibilities. In general, southern Christianity tends to be more spontaneous, with a much more lively sense of the supernatural - healings, visions, prophecies, possessions and exorcisms, and so on. African worship in particular tends to be heavily charismatic. As Roman Catholicism in the future speaks with an African and Hispanic accent, it will also speak in tongues.

Poverty/Globalization: During the daily General Congregation meetings that led up to the conclave in April, several African cardinals gave moving interventions pleading with the next pope, whoever it would be, to put the struggle against poverty and chronic under-development at the top of the church's agenda. For many African Christians, the defining issues for the church are not the usual topics in the West -- birth control, women in the church, theological dissent, and so on. African Catholics will of course have different views on these questions, but by and large the overwhelming majority of Southerners regard them secondary. The truly urgent matters, they tend to believe, are poverty, war, the arms trade, HIV/AIDS, and structural reform of the international economic system. Hence as the South comes of age in the church, its focus will to some extent be increasingly ad extra rather than ad intra.

Religious Pluralism: There's a sense in which Asian Catholicism is to the Catholic church today what Latin America was in the 1970s and 1980s, that is, the frontline of the most important theological question of the day. In Latin America, the debate was over liberation theology, and more broadly, the proper relationship between Christianity and politics. Today, it's over what theological sense to make of religious diversity, meaning whether or not we can say that God wills religious diversity, and if God does will it, what does that do to Christianity's missionary imperative? In Asia, the social reality of Christianity as a tiny minority surrounded by millennia-old religious traditions such as Hinduism and Buddhism makes this an urgent, and inescapable, theological challenge. Virtually all the major cases and documents that have come through the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in the last decade and a half, from Tissa Balasuriya to Jacques Dupuis to Dominus Iesus to Roger Haight, have pivoted on these fundamental questions. In the years to come, we can expect the question of Christian teaching about other religions to increasingly occupy the center of the research agenda in Catholic theology.

Traditional Sexual Morality: Catholics in the developing world tend to hold traditional views on matters of the family and sexual morality -- homosexuality, gender, and so on. As the South comes of age, the Catholic church will be proportionately less likely to tolerate liberal positions on these questions. For a point of comparison, consider the debate within the Anglican Communion after the consecration of an openly gay bishop in the United States. Anglicans worldwide number 76 million, but that includes 26 million in the Church of England, only 1.2 million of whom are regular communicants. Meanwhile, there are 17.5 million Anglicans in Nigeria and 8 million in Uganda, and in both places the vast majority is active. More than half the global membership of the Anglican Communion is today non-Western. Episcopalians in the States are only 2.4 million. The African bishops have declared that they are not in "full communion" with the Episcopalians, and some predict a formal schism.

Consider this comment, made just two weeks at a Sant'Egidio conference in Lyon, France, by Bishop Sunday Mbang, chairperson of the World Methodist Council: "I and many African Christians are always at a loss to comprehend the whole issue of human sexuality. What really informed the idea of same-sex marriage among Christians? What is the authority for this rather depraved new way of life? Then there is the issue of this same people, who have voluntarily excluded themselves from procreation, a gift given to all men and women by God, adopting other people's children. What moral right have they to do so? Why should people who do not desire to have children go after other people's children?"

Some suggest that as Africa develops economically, more relativized secular attitudes on sexual morality will take hold there as they have in much of the West. Archbishop John Onaiyekan of Abuja, Nigeria, told me some time ago that he finds this a patronizing Western conceit, as if to say, "Once the Africans get out of their huts and get some education, they'll think like us." He predicts that if anything, as Africa's self-confidence and development levels grow, it will become bolder about asserting its moral vision on the global stage.

Islam: Western Catholics, with a few well known exceptions, tend to emphasize dialogue and welcome with respect to Islam. Many Catholic bishops in the South, especially Africa, take a harder line, insisting that the church must stand up for itself in situations of conflict, especially in states where Islam is in the majority and seeks the application of Islamic law. This is likely to press the Catholic church towards a more cautious stance with respect to Islam, especially around issues of reciprocity -- that is, the obligation of Islamic states and regions to reciprocate the religious freedom and the protection of law offered to Islamic minorities in the West. Phenomena such as the $65 million Mosque in Rome, the largest in Europe, while the one million Christians in Saudi Arabia cannot legally import Bibles, will be less likely to pass under silence within church circles. We saw movement in that direction during Pope Benedict XVI's meeting with Muslims in Cologne, Germany, during World Youth Day, where he stated bluntly that a country that does not respect religious freedom is not worthy of the name "civilization," effectively suggesting that Muslim nations under shariah are not fully civilized. The rise of the South will increasingly push this sort of reflection about the relationship with Islam to the top of the church's agenda.

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Summary

These realities already are at work shaping the contours of Roman Catholicism. In many ways, they promise exciting times, as fresh voices are heard in Catholic debate and new energy pushes the church forward in theological exploration, in social engagement, and in spiritual expression. It's analogous in some ways to the early Christians encountering the Greco-Roman world, or the Christianity of the late Roman Empire adjusting itself to the rise of the Barbarian tribes, or the impact on Christian consciousness of the discovery of the so-called "New World" in the 15th and 16th centuries. We are living through another of those geological transitions in church history where the plates are realigned, giving rise to new ecclesial topography.


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At the same time, there's one dimension to this transition which needs to be faced honestly. Westerners, and perhaps Americans most of all, will have to face the simple fact that in this globalized church, their issues and concerns will, more and more, not set the agenda.

One kind of American Catholic, for example, might propose a different set of priorities for the church of the future, especially in the wake of the sexual abuse crisis: greater accountability for bishops, empowerment of laity, democratic and transparent procedures of administration, and a review of some questions of sexual morality. This should not be read to suggest that only Americans are concerned with these matters, or that all Americans are, but rather that Americans are proportionately more likely to rate these as top priorities than Catholics in some other parts of the world.

Without drawing conclusions on the merits, the plain truth is that most of these points are unlikely to be driving issues for the global church of the 21st century. In my experience, they do not come up much when you ask Africa, Asian and Latin America leaders about the key challenges facing the church. This does not mean Catholics from the South always oppose these things; in fact, Asian bishops, to take one example, are known for their relatively democratic and transparent style, and often think Rome could do with a little more of it. In general, however, they don't spend a great deal of time thinking in these terms.

Understanding how the rest of the Catholic world sees things is critical to effective communication. To give a concrete example, I recall vividly in April 2002, when John Paul II summoned the American cardinals to Rome, how astonished American reporters who followed them were to discover that from the point of view of many in the Vatican, the big religion story that spring was not the American sex abuse crisis, but the Israeli/Palestinian standoff at the Basilica of the Nativity in Bethlehem. (It was a discovery all by itself that the sex abuse story was not on the front pages of Italian papers). There was a sort of crash-course that went on over those 48 hours; Vatican officials finally grasped the pressure-cooker media environment the American bishops had been dealing with, and at least some reporters got a window into what the American bishops were up against.

The bottom line is that in a globalized church, America's sense of what's important, which issues need immediate engagement and which can wait, what the pope ought to be thinking about when he gets out of bed in the morning, will increasingly yield pride of place.

This reality will pose a challenge to the "catholicity" of some American Catholics. How willing are we to see ourselves as part of a worldwide family of faith, even if things don't go the way we believe they should? To what extent can we accept that Roman Catholicism is a maddeningly complex welter of different, and at times competing, cultures, theological schools, political agenda and private instincts, the interplay among which always involves compromise, disappointment, and frustration? Can we bring ourselves to accept that the church before our eyes will probably never be the church of our dreams, and perhaps that's for the best, since our own dreams are always more limited than those of the entire communion spread across space and through time?

These are complicated, difficult questions, and thank God I'm not paid to have answers to them. I look forward to discussing them with you.



TOPICS: Activism; Apologetics; Catholic; Current Events; Ecumenism; General Discusssion; History; Ministry/Outreach; Moral Issues; Religion & Culture; Religion & Politics; Theology; Worship
KEYWORDS: catholicchurch; catholiclist; catholicpriesthood; holypriesthood; homosexualagenda; priesthood; priests; semenary; seminary

1 posted on 09/23/2005 2:40:57 PM PDT by NYer
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To: american colleen; Lady In Blue; Salvation; narses; SMEDLEYBUTLER; redhead; Notwithstanding; ...
No fan of the National Catholic Reporter, here is one article where John Allen truly strikes a chord.

Understanding how the rest of the Catholic world sees things is critical to effective communication.

Many Catholics are not aware that the Church is both Western and Eastern. There are 22 different Catholic Rites, including Byzantine, Armenian, Coptic, Chaldean, Melkite, Maronite, Ukrainian, and Ruthenian. A Roman Catholic may attend Mass at any of the Eastern Catholic Churches and fulfill their Sunday obligation.

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2 posted on 09/23/2005 2:43:24 PM PDT by NYer
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To: NYer
Can we bring ourselves to accept that the church before our eyes will probably never be the church of our dreams, and perhaps that's for the best, since our own dreams are always more limited than those of the entire communion spread across space and through time?

He's only half right here. He, like many of the "American Catholics" he seems to be talking about, has the irksome quality of treating the Church as if She is a great universal political party for the world.

"Since our own dreams are always more limited than those ... [other people throughout the world]" Bleech! What about God?

A good poet (of which I'm not) might finish it off something like this:

"Since our own dreams are always more limited than the Grace God wishes to bathe us in to participate in performing His Will".

3 posted on 09/23/2005 3:46:26 PM PDT by TotusTuus
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To: NYer

Great and informative article. Thanks!


4 posted on 09/23/2005 4:09:54 PM PDT by Kolokotronis (Christ is Risen, and you, o death, are annihilated!)
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To: NYer
Inculturation: Catholicism is one faith, but it has to be expressed through many cultures. Striking the right balance between unity and diversity will be a defining challenge in the church of the future, especially as a faith incubated in Europe and the West continues to expand and come of age in cultures with very different attitudes, instincts and modes of expression. Generally speaking, theologians and prelates from the developing world will push for greater freedom to adapt Eurocentric models of worship and doctrinal expression of the Western church to their own circumstances. Further, as immigration and cultural mobility increasingly bring the South to the doorstep of the West, the patterns of thought, life and worship of the South will more and more be part of the warp and woof of the church everywhere. Liturgy is one arena in which this tension will work itself out. These trends may push the envelope in terms of Western sensibilities. In general, southern Christianity tends to be more spontaneous, with a much more lively sense of the supernatural - healings, visions, prophecies, possessions and exorcisms, and so on. African worship in particular tends to be heavily charismatic. As Roman Catholicism in the future speaks with an African and Hispanic accent, it will also speak in tongues.

*IMO, Allen is right. There is a tendency, among the self-described trads, to think there will be a return to the Old Liturgy as normative. That clearly isn't going to happen, Nor, sadly, will those favoring that outcome likely stop viewing as heretical or suspect or sacriligeous those favoring Christian Worship in a Charismatic or speaking-in-tongues fashion.

Those thinking tolerance of their desires hasn't been extended to them are often those least tolerant of those with other desires.

The redeemed gather with Jesus at the altar to offer the Sacrifice of the New Covenant to God and to participate in the Heavenly Banquet/Feast of the New Covenant and that can be accomplished in many, many, many different ways. In the future I think we will see more, not less, liberty within the Liturgy. Frankly, that is my desire.

Were I Pope, Roman control over the Liturgy could be summarized on the back of a postcard while I would concentrate time/effort on priestly formation so those well-educated/formed priests could one day become Bishop and ensure authentic Liturgy would be accomplished within his Jurisdiction with whatever emphasis necessary for his people who he knows much better than Rome.

The purpose of the Church is Salvation not universal european 16th century uniformity in matters Liturgical. It is the Mass that matters, yes; but, not in the way trads imagine.

5 posted on 09/23/2005 4:10:42 PM PDT by bornacatholic
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To: TotusTuus; Kolokotronis; InterestedQuestioner; sandyeggo; Convert from ECUSA
He's only half right here.

True ... but ... he touches on some excellent points that impact and get to the bottom of the Catholic Church's approach to ecumenism. That, more than anything else in this article, is what captured my interest.

To cite an example, on Thursday morning, the governor of NY, visiting China for trade negotiations, established a live link with the US press. In response to one reporter's question, he commented that though NY and many other states, have lost jobs to the Chinese marketplace, we must face reality. He cited Chinese history where they tried to protect themselves by building the Great Wall. It didn't work then and it won't work now.

The same is true for the Catholic Church. It must reach out to find and build upon common ground.

6 posted on 09/23/2005 4:22:13 PM PDT by NYer
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To: NYer
Article said: Archbishop John Onaiyekan of Abuja, Nigeria, told me some time ago that he finds this a patronizing Western conceit, as if to say, "Once the Africans get out of their huts and get some education, they'll think like us." He predicts that if anything, as Africa's self-confidence and development levels grow, it will become bolder about asserting its moral vision on the global stage.

Maybe the Africans might become like that, or they could see decadent West as a warning not to so easily abandon Christian morality. Perhaps negative examples can also help a nation as they might a person stay focused on the straight and narrow.
7 posted on 09/23/2005 4:54:48 PM PDT by Piers-the-Ploughman
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To: NYer
"No fan of the National Catholic Reporter..."

I know exactly what you mean. There was too much mention of racial and economic differences and not enough on the Universality of the Sacramental Life. Race and economics are going to be a useless argument the more interracial marriages happen and making wealth becomes as easy as breaking a sweat. The missed point that this article should have mentioned is "OBEDIENCE"!

"I and many African Christians are always at a loss to comprehend....Why should people who do not desire to have children go after other people's children?"

I'm surprised that African Christians would asked such a question given that they rank high in spirituality for recognizing the fact that Devils are very real creatures and possession is a very terrible reality. Answer to the question: The focus of demonic action is to sever souls' relationship with the Mystical Body of Christ. Homosexuality is an abomination whose seed spawns from Satan. Sin will not stop poisoning new generations until they lie stinking in the grave.

---

"Vatican officials finally grasped the pressure-cooker media environment the American bishops had been dealing with, and at least some reporters got a window into what the American bishops were up against."

I like it when God's enemies underestimates the power of Rome and the Holy Spirit. I don't think that American bishops are enemies of God, but much of the MSM is an enemy of Christ's Bride. Am I the only one who's received a "cold water in the face" reality wake up call? Sometimes I need a speech or occasion that reminds me that "I" don't matter. It's similar to the Queen of England pretending not to know some famous entertainer's name when they meet for their knighting.

"Your majesty, this is Mr. Elton John."

"Hello. And what is it you do, Mr. John?"

---

"Pope John Paul II defined Asia as the great missionary horizon of the church in the 21st century"

If China takes center stage for world powers, it's because she becomes Catholic. No other religion would forgive Beijing's horrific Communism the way the Sacrament of Reconciliation will. Other cultures and religions rejoice in revenge and the world's justice the way a little kid oogles over a 1970s disaster flick. Protestants don't have such a Sacrament. Islamics don't believe in it, and I don't think that Jews are into adoption-for-convertion on such a scale especially when many Asians love to eat pork. That makes China a double negative for the direct descendants of Abraham. Thus, China will become Catholic the way Romans became the Catholic militant. For the conversion of secular Chinese, they may be lead by an economic tycoon for a warrior rather than a legionary general. The same temptations for heresy will be there (Ayranism, as is the first lie by the Father of Lies...to become like gods).
8 posted on 09/23/2005 5:00:35 PM PDT by SaltyJoe ("Social Justice" begins with the unborn child...at conception.)
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Comment #9 Removed by Moderator

To: NYer
"...Then there is the issue of this same people, who have voluntarily excluded themselves from procreation, a gift given to all men and women by God, adopting other people's children. What moral right have they to do so? Why should people who do not desire to have children go after other people's children?"

"Telling it like it is" bump

10 posted on 09/23/2005 6:25:49 PM PDT by tuesday afternoon (Everything happens for a reason. - 40 and 43)
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To: NYer

When did John Allen graduate with a doctorate in Moral Theology?

Wait, he didn't.

Trash...


11 posted on 09/23/2005 6:50:05 PM PDT by bnelson44 (Proud parent of a tanker!)
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To: All

The secret is not to try to be 'open' to other faiths. The secret is being TRUE to your own faith.

Muslems know this. It is about time Catholics realized it.


12 posted on 09/23/2005 6:55:43 PM PDT by bnelson44 (Proud parent of a tanker!)
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To: bornacatholic
I wouldn't rule out a return to the Tridentine Mass. It seems to me that a simple statement regarding " Adoring,thanking,petitioning and making reparation using "the same prayer to the same God in the same tongue throughout the world from daybreak to daybreak",might ;resonate with with all of God's children.

It's a powwerful,beautiful and easily comprehended concept. Just my thoughts.

13 posted on 09/23/2005 7:48:55 PM PDT by saradippity
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To: SaltyJoe

If China takes center stage for world powers, it's because she becomes Catholic. No other religion would forgive Beijing's horrific Communism the way the Sacrament of Reconciliation will. Other cultures and religions rejoice in revenge and the world's justice the way a little kid oogles over a 1970s disaster flick. Protestants don't have such a Sacrament....

So Rome's got that trademarked too? man, there's nothing left for the rest of us...and here i was thinking i could be forgiving and reconcile beyond things that one could deem almost unforgivable...ahhhh shucks!


14 posted on 09/23/2005 9:16:27 PM PDT by phatus maximus (John 6:29...Learn it, love it, live it...)
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To: phatus maximus
Rome isn't the center of any trademark but Rome. Christ is the Trademark. The Universal Church is His Bride.

It's by Christ's Command that Reconciliation exists. It's a Sacrament referenced by the Gospels and rigidly practiced by the very Apostles of the Christian Faith from it's start and continued to this very moment.

Catholic doesn't necessarily mean "Roman Catholic" as there are many other Catholic Rites. China and all others need not fear a human Pope since it's the Holy Eucharist that's the Head (and dare say I, the Sacred Heart) of our Mystical Communion with God, Himself.
15 posted on 09/23/2005 9:57:49 PM PDT by SaltyJoe ("Social Justice" begins with the unborn child...at conception.)
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To: NYer

I read recently that the Vatican had appoved a "Hebrew" rite too? I was astonished, but after some thought understood how some of the Jewish faith could feel alienated from everything about their exsistence after their conversion to Catholocism, their point of reference. I wish I could remember where I ran across this.


16 posted on 09/24/2005 12:50:33 AM PDT by SaintDismas (Jest becuz you put yer boots in the oven, don't make it bread)
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To: NYer
-much insight and provoking discussion on a myriad of the subjective; however, he completely misses the mark when he goes off on subjective tangent with regard to what is objectively taught regarding morality.

There is no Traditional Sexual Morality: -there is only morality or immorality. We as the Church are united globally in this -there are no gray areas or points of contention or nontraditional morally relative positions abridging what is divinely revealed, authentically taught and universally authentic in spite of our diverse cultures and engineered social systems...

17 posted on 09/24/2005 2:46:08 AM PDT by DBeers ()
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Comment #18 Removed by Moderator

To: wequalswinner
I read recently that the Vatican had appoved a "Hebrew" rite too? I was astonished, but after some thought understood how some of the Jewish faith could feel alienated from everything about their exsistence after their conversion to Catholocism, their point of reference. I wish I could remember where I ran across this.

The Catholic Church is both Western and Eastern. As most of us realize, the Church began in the East. Our Lord lived and died and resurrected in the Holy Land. The Church spread from Jerusalem throughout the known world. As the Church spread, it encountered different cultures and adapted, retaining from each culture what was consistent with the Gospel. In the city of Alexandria, the Church became very Egyptian; in Antioch it remained very Jewish; in Rome it took on an Italian appearance and in the Constantinople it took on the trappings of the Roman imperial court. All the churches which developed this way were Eastern, except Rome. Most Catholics in the United States have their roots in Western Europe where the Roman rite predominated. There are 22 different "rites" approved by the Catholic Church.

I attend a Maronite Catholic Church. It is from Jewish roots that the church of Antioch sprung. In fact, the church of Antioch was founded by St. Peter and it was there that the terms "Christian" and "Catholic" were first used. The first Christians were Jews and entire communities came to accept Jesus as the Messiah. Evidence from archaeological studies of Maronite church buildings show that they had earlier been synagogues. To this day, the Maronite Church retains its Jewish roots more than any other Catholic rite, as evidenced by its use of Aramaic/Syriac and by the prayers which remain faithful to Semantic and Old Testament forms. The Consecration is in Aramaic, using the words and language of our Lord at the Last Supper.

The Vatican recently appointed a coadjutor bishop to the Latin-rite patriarchate of Jerusalem, to minister to the growing community of Hebrew-speaking Catholics in Israel. Perhaps this is what you read?

19 posted on 09/24/2005 6:08:55 AM PDT by NYer
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To: bornacatholic

"*IMO, Allen is right. There is a tendency, among the self-described trads, to think there will be a return to the Old Liturgy as normative. That clearly isn't going to happen, Nor, sadly, will those favoring that outcome likely stop viewing as heretical or suspect or sacriligeous those favoring Christian Worship in a Charismatic or speaking-in-tongues fashion."

I tend to agree with you, but would expand upon it a bit. I think our ultra-traditional Roman Catholics in the U.S. are going to have a few disappointing decades. The reality, which Mr. Allen stated quite clearly, was that American Catholics make up about 6% of the world total. What he didn't say was that this share is probably going to continue to shrink.

Although many American Catholics look at the current growth in the numbers of Catholics in the U.S as being a reason for great optimisim, I would hasten to point out that most of that growth is due to immigration not evangelization. And thus this growth will probably slow as a political consensus emerges in the U.S. that immigration (legal and otherwise) needs to be better controlled.

That's a long way of saying that as we become less and less of the world population of Catholics, we'll become less and less relevant in global catholic affairs. What is uniquely important to Catholics in the U.S. will become less important to the overall agenda of the church. The U.S. episcopate will be deciding the priorities and making the decisions for the church. What you see is what you're going to get in that regard.


20 posted on 09/24/2005 6:22:30 AM PDT by RKBA Democrat (Lord Jesus Christ, son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.)
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To: RKBA Democrat
Amen, brother. I think liturgically there will be a slight advance to the rear under Pope Benedict (whom I love) but you are certainly correct in your other points.

My Parish is teeming with converts - protestants, at least 10 Jews and one Muslim famly of 9 - and I don't thnk that would have happened back in the day when Mass was what is now longed-for my some self-described traditinalists and we were Church contra mundum.

Vatican Two reoriented (pun intended) us to our true Mission - the Church as Missionary intending to bring the Good News/Salvation/Sacraments to all manner of men speaking all manner of tongues

21 posted on 09/24/2005 6:34:38 AM PDT by bornacatholic
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To: RKBA Democrat; bornacatholic
Whats with this trad this or trad that or ultra trad this or ultra trad that BS... What exactly are you conveying with such morally relative subjective nonsense? Are you a non trad or semi trad pseudo non trad -maybe you just like appearing to know you convey something important when really you convey nothing?

I suggest you relate in tems of valid versus invalid -authentic versus inauthentic ALSO document your opinion if you consider your posting on liturgy to be instructional -save your meaningless BS for home use amongst friends that may be impressed... What you do for the body of Christ with this trad non trad BS is something you should consider as detrimental to the common good...

22 posted on 09/24/2005 6:57:16 AM PDT by DBeers ()
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To: DBeers
If you are ignorant of the terms don't engage those who aren't

As to the rest of your post - Pfffffffft

23 posted on 09/24/2005 7:01:52 AM PDT by bornacatholic
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To: bornacatholic
If you are ignorant of the terms don't engage those who aren't

As to the rest of your post - Pfffffffft

One can not be ignorant of that which is subjective -comprendre? LOL

Nor can one instruct in the subjective...

-I can only suggest you refrain from continuing your nonsensical use of moral relative terms -if you wish to continue that is your choice --know that there is at least one here who recognizes your BS...

24 posted on 09/24/2005 7:28:11 AM PDT by DBeers ()
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To: DBeers
I thought the Pffffft would have been enough of an indication I couldn't care less about your personal opinions and your idea they are normative

I'll send you a link to the Ratzinger Fan Club and you can use your persuasive "logic" to correct them, CAPICHE?

25 posted on 09/24/2005 8:03:46 AM PDT by bornacatholic
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To: DBeers

http://www.ratzingerfanclub.com/covenant_and_mission.html#traditional_response


26 posted on 09/24/2005 8:04:03 AM PDT by bornacatholic
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To: DBeers
Books in Review

Passionate Uncertainty:

Inside the American Jesuits

Copyright (c) 2002 First Things 122 (April 2002): 37-41.

The Jesuit Enigma

Passionate Uncertainty: Inside the American Jesuits. By Peter McDon­ ough and Eugene C. Bianchi. University of California Press. 380 pp. $29.95.

Reviewed by Avery Cardinal Dulles

For my part, I can say that I recognize among Jesuits, as among other priests and religious in the United States, the various trends reported in this survey. The opinions of traditionalists, moderates, liberals, and radical reformers are dutifully recorded—even to the point of tedium.

*In other words, you don't know what in the hell you are talking about

27 posted on 09/24/2005 8:09:38 AM PDT by bornacatholic
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To: NYer

It very well could be, and thanx for sharing that. I also remembering bookmarking a website for this "Hebrew" rite,jthere adherents, and their troubles and difficulties and why JPII allowed for it, but shortly after my computer died.

I'm glad to know that it is specifically called the "Maronite' rite, although I swear I thought they called it the "Hebrew" rite, and that this was kinda a recent thing. Huh.


28 posted on 09/24/2005 3:52:11 PM PDT by SaintDismas (Jest becuz you put yer boots in the oven, don't make it bread)
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To: DBeers; bornacatholic

"...save your meaningless BS for home use amongst friends that may be impressed... What you do for the body of Christ with this trad non trad BS is something you should consider as detrimental to the common good..."

Ahhh. Another of our bretheren spreading the Good Word I see.

I suppose I could attempt to adress your comment...but why? What good would it accomplish? Would it make you any less rude?

I doubt it.

My grandfather warned me to avoid urinating contests with skunks. I think I'll take that advice.


29 posted on 09/24/2005 7:36:28 PM PDT by RKBA Democrat (Lord Jesus Christ, son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.)
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To: bornacatholic

You sound like a protestant. On what authority will these new rites and liturgies be based?


30 posted on 09/24/2005 7:53:38 PM PDT by WriteOn (Truth)
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To: NYer

Build what on common ground? A syncretism? I'm not a missionary. I know that when elements of foreign religions are elevated, faith is lost.


31 posted on 09/24/2005 7:55:54 PM PDT by WriteOn (Truth)
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To: RKBA Democrat

I don't believe Tradition is an American thing. Most of the world was evangelized and converted by the Traditional Latin Mass and those who said it. It's hardly a property of America.


32 posted on 09/24/2005 8:00:41 PM PDT by WriteOn (Truth)
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To: bornacatholic

That's ridiculous. Most of the conversion of what is now Christendom was done with the Latin Mass by those who said it.


33 posted on 09/24/2005 8:02:22 PM PDT by WriteOn (Truth)
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To: bornacatholic
In other words, you don't know what in the hell you are talking about

Other words are the problem -I am a Catholic -what you are is something I don't know -you differentiate your self by subjective nonsense...

I suspect you are grounded by the moral relative and subjective in many areas -not just the errant postings I see -being grounded in the absolute is being certain and that is what Catholicism is all about IT is universal -Protestants on the other hand have many flavors -trads non trads etcetra etcerata -you sure you are Catholic?

34 posted on 09/24/2005 9:41:43 PM PDT by DBeers ()
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To: RKBA Democrat
I suppose I could attempt to adress your comment...but why? What good would it accomplish? Would it make you any less rude?

Rude -another meaningless term in relation to what I posted -that which you can not address...

You and 'borncatholic' appear to be cut from the same cloth... I suggest more study about Catholicism is in order...

35 posted on 09/24/2005 9:44:17 PM PDT by DBeers ()
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To: WriteOn

"I don't believe Tradition is an American thing. Most of the world was evangelized and converted by the Traditional Latin Mass and those who said it. It's hardly a property of America."

I would agree that the traditional Latin Mass is the property of the western (Roman Catholic) church. Not just the U.S. church. However, I'm going to have to disagree with you a bit with regard to what I think you're implying, which is that the TLM is the international norm. From what I've seen with my own eyes, it just doesn't look that way.

I've traveled and lived abroad. I've gone to Mass in other countries, including Italy. In honesty, I've never seen a TLM or something I would recognize as the TLM outside the U.S. It was always the NO Mass. (I'd hasten to add that I haven't done much travel in Latin America and suspect that the TLM is much more common there).

The world that was evangelized prior to 1965 was converted by the TLM and those who said it. But here's the rub: where the Roman Catholic church has seen it's greatest growth recently has not been in those same countries that were converted by the TLM.

I want to be very careful to add a point here. It's obvious that there is a lot of emotion amongst traditional Roman Catholics about the TLM versus NO. I don't wish to imply that one is intrinsically "better" than the other. Because (1) I simply don't believe that, and, (2) that's a matter for the Roman Catholic Church and Roman Catholics to decide.


36 posted on 09/25/2005 7:06:28 AM PDT by RKBA Democrat (Lord Jesus Christ, son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.)
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To: DBeers

"I suggest more study about Catholicism is in order..."

A point that I can actually agree with you on. I'm spending a great deal of time studying more about eastern Christianity in general and eastern Catholicism in particular.


37 posted on 09/25/2005 7:13:57 AM PDT by RKBA Democrat (Lord Jesus Christ, son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.)
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To: WriteOn
Like a protestant you speak in the vernacular.

The Authority Jesus gave each individaul Apostle/Bishop. They two have the power to Bind and Loose which, you will see as the seeds of Vatican Two's Collegiality bloosom, will include, eventually, the Bishop exercising maxium authority, within right reason and authentic liturgical principles, within his Jurisdiction just like Traditionally happened prior to Trent.

Back in the day there was a WIDE diversiy within Christian Unity. A return to Tradition is what I desire yet I seem radical :). Universal uniformity in matters Liturgical is not something to be strived for, imo

38 posted on 09/25/2005 8:17:49 AM PDT by bornacatholic
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To: WriteOn
And the indians forced to memorize Gregorian Chants and Ecclesiastiocal Latin were well-served by this?

Walk a mile in another man's moccasins rather than think it a good idea an Anasazi Chief wear pantofole in his Adobe Home.

39 posted on 09/25/2005 8:27:19 AM PDT by bornacatholic
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To: RKBA Democrat

Simple-minded relativism is alive and well within the Christian communities. In its radically liberal forms it is poisonous of both faith and morals, while at a pastoral level such fudging of the issues offers nothing to people young or old who are looking for truth and principles.

The quote is from an article I noted that was just posted on FR:

Cardinal Pell on the Dictatorship of Relativism (Address to National Press Club)

The article touches upon the ills of relativism and provides some description of what it is and somewhat how one may fall into such thinking and subsequently erroneous justification or misinformed conscience. As the quote says -people are looking for truth and principles. Contradiction and or conflict are red flag that imply truth and or principle are possibly vacant on one side or the other that is conflicted.

I believe and am sure that such things as the divisive "trad versus non trad" stuff is rooted in Satan -it is not of God -such divisive 'stuff' which is truly subjective relativism only diminishes the Church and potentially turns some away that may be weak in faith or that may be contemplating coming home... I feel that the best way of avoiding the trap of relativism is to stick with what the Church teaches (even going so far as using the same terminology) further, one should attempt to document or reference what they convey when it is point of contention (this forces one to verify the absolute and objective and assure they are not simply practicing relativism)...

/I put my soapbox away

40 posted on 09/25/2005 3:35:32 PM PDT by DBeers ()
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To: DBeers

OK. I think I'm beginning to understand your point. I read the article by Cardinal Pell. A very good speech/article I might add.

I think you're misunderstanding my point of view. I don't question the church on matters of dogma. Nor do I think I have any significant disagreements on matters of dogma with those who would identify themselves as devout. There's one menu in that regard and I'm happy to accept it. I don't buy into the relativist line, and I do see your point with regard to the dangers of pigeonholing individuals into groups such as trad, non-trad, semi-trad, ad nauseum.

That said, embracing the church fully on matters of dogma does not mean that I accept that there is only one "proper" celebration of liturgy within the universal Catholic church and only one "correct" set of traditions. You'd note that if I were to accept those as premises, it would mean that either my eastern Catholic church or the western church were wrong with regards to liturgy and tradition. I don't buy into that line of reasoning.


41 posted on 09/27/2005 3:15:31 AM PDT by RKBA Democrat (Lord Jesus Christ, son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.)
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