In a blog posted Sept. 21, "Can We Talk?", I wondered if it might be possible to have a civil debate on the troublesome hot topic of dissent from church teaching. Is dissent ever legitimate or is it not? I carefully read the many responses, which displayed a range of thinking on the subject, and I am encouraged to proceed, adopting two excellent suggestions from readers. As a discussion starter, I think both conservatives and liberals can agree that some church teachings at various times can and have changed over the centuries.
Adelle M. Banks of the Religion News Service reports on an unsurprising reality for Christianity: Young members view their churches as judgmental, overprotective, exclusive and unfriendly towards doubters -- hardly a recipe for evangelization.
New research by the Barna Group finds they view churches as judgmental, overprotective, exclusive and unfriendly towards doubters. They also consider congregations antagonistic to science and say their Christian experience has been shallow.
The findings, the result of a five-year study, are featured in "You Lost Me: Why Young Christians are Leaving Church and Rethinking Faith," a new book by Barna president David Kinnaman. The project included a study of 1,296 young adults who were current or former churchgoers.
Researchers found that almost three out of five young Christians (59 percent) leave church life either permanently or for an extended period of time after age 15.
It's officially a trend now. A second diocese, Madison, Wis., has moved to restrict Communion under both species.
Read all about it at Deacon Greg Kandra's blog post here. Another interesting analysis is at Dating God, where Daniel P. Horan, OFM, says, "It strikes me as nothing less-than an clerical overstepping and unnecessary demarcation of the clergy and laity." Read his full blog post here.
I try to not get upset about every little step backward by the church hierarchy, but when it's evident that a movement is underway to take us back to a church where laity knew their place and had appropriate awe--not necessarily for God, but for their leaders and the trappings of the church--it is very depressing.
The new Mass translations, banning altar girls, limiting the Communion cup. What's next? No Communion in the hand? Bring back the Communion rail? Getting rid of the vernacular altogether?
On this day in 1201, Richard de Fournival was born in Amiens "to Roger de Fournival (a personal physician to King Philip Augustus) and Élisabeth de la Pierre. He was also half-brother of Arnoul, bishop of Amiens (1236-46). Richard was successively canon, deacon, and chancellor of the cathedral chapter of Notre Dame d'Amiens. He was also a licensed surgeon, by the authority of Pope Gregory IX and this privilege was confirmed a second time in 1246 by Pope Innocent IV."
Vatican Radio -- The Australian Catholic Church today
Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty -- 2,000 military ministers has pledged not to perform same-sex "wedding" ceremonies under any circumstances.
Communist or socialist countries that restrict missionary activity and religious expression pose particular challenges to the practice of mission today, but countries such as China and Vietnam also have surprising lessons for the Catholic Church, Father Peter C. Phan told the Maryknoll Centennial Symposium this weekend.
China—where Maryknoll’s first missionaries had arrived in 1918—expelled all foreign missionaries in 1949. “But lo and behold, when Christians came back in the 1980s, we found a more vibrant Christianity in China than it was before,” said Phan, professor of theology at Georgetown University. “What we thought would be the end of mission turned out to be the flourishing of mission.”
“What we learned in those 30 to 40 years is that bishops and priests were dispensable,” Phan said with a laugh. “This is also the lesson we learned here during Vatican II. While the bishops were in Rome, the local churches prospered.”
Phan suggested that the distinction between the official and underground churches in China may be a Western lens that is “too limiting, too confining to understanding what is really happening on the ground.”
When liberation theologian Father Gustavo Gutiérrez was asked to say a few impromptu words at the Maryknoll Centennial Symposium, he expressed gratitude for the work of Maryknoll priests and nuns in his native country of Peru, in particular for their mission of friendship.
“We do not have a true commitment to the poor without friendship,” said Gutiérrez, citing Jesus’ words, “I no longer call you servants… but friends” (John 15:15). “Friends are different but equal…. When we speak about the preferential option for the poor, we have to be close to them. Many people understand the witness of Maryknoll as being friends of the people.”
Plenary speaker Dr. Dana Robert picked up the theme of friendship in her talk Friday afternoon. “Mission as relationship: this is where we have to go now,” said Robert, director of the Center for Global Christianity and Mission at the Boston University School of Theology. Robert, a United Methodist, had just returned from the interreligious Global Christian Forum in Indonesia.
Models of Catholic mission over the past century succeeded, in part, because they were the right forms for the right time, but new models are needed for today, two plenary speakers told those gathered for the Maryknoll Centennial Symposium today at Catholic Theological Union in Chicago.
This is how I remember it. In late 2008 or early 2009, Tom Roberts broached the idea of setting out on a trek across the United States to find Catholic communities that are alive and life giving, that aren't bogged down in the mire of church politics and scandal.
From that idea came first a series of stories for our newspaper and website. You can still read those stories here: In Search of the Emerging Church.
Next came a book for Orbis, The Emerging Catholic Church: A Community's Search for Itself, which has just been released.
Tom was guest on Interfaith Voices, a public radio show hosted by Sr. Maureen Feilder, who also blogs for NCR Today. Here's a link to Tom and Maureen's conversation, which is titled The Changing Face of the Catholic Church.
On this day in 1879, Joe Hill (Joel Emmanuel Hägglund) was born in Gävle, Sweden.
His family was destitute, and sometimes there was no food. There was music, however, and Joe Hill, who would become famous for writing the IWW's "Starvation Army" songs, got his start at home.