The efforts of Pope Francis to reach out to the poor, awaken a connectedness to the Earth and welcome the marginalized into community are inspiring and noteworthy, but they do little to change the present church into a living church consonant with the new cosmos of which we now know ourselves to be members.
Yes, the church has a vital role in helping the world move forward toward unity through the Gospel values of peace and justice, but such movement will not happen unless there is a conscious awakening to the expanding universe and the evolution of biological life, an awakening to the cosmos as our home. Can the church revitalize the Gospel life as one that embraces change, complexity, chaos, future and new creation? Can we envision the emergence of new forms of Gospel life? I do not think this is possible unless we reconnect ourselves not simply to the world in which we are living, but to the world we are discovering through science and technology.
Yet we have a difficult time opening up to science as illuminating the path to God. We find ourselves entrenched in old ways of thinking about sin, grace, death, salvation, heaven and hell to the extent that efforts to reframe these beliefs in ways consonant with our time are highly suspect not only by some of the church's hierarchy but also by some conservative priests and laity who want to preserve a pre-Second Vatican Council church.
One young lay theologian said to me not too long ago, "We will get back to real theology when those like you espousing a 'boomer theology' move on."
By "boomer theology," he meant doing theology in light of science and culture rather than doing "real theology," which, as the Academy of Catholic Theology's mission statement states, is "to foster theological work of the highest intellectual standard that is faithful in the Spirit to the Revelation of God in Christ, as that Revelation has been handed on in Scripture and Tradition, and authoritatively interpreted by the Magisterium."
I seek to do theology in a way that connects with the world we live in, whereas my young friend wants to do theology as an intellectual apologetics of truth. The One Body of the Church is deeply divided.