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Commentary on an extended piece by an outsider.

Repairing the incoherence of the term "Catholic"

While the author of "Our Secular Future", a piece in America Magazine, has some important things to say about the cultural clash between (what I prefer to call) serious Christians and the increasingly dominant secular progressive elites, the comments that follow the article point to dissent even to his employment of the term "Catholic". Given all the controversy over the meaning of the word "Catholic" and who is allowed, or not allowed, to apply that term to themselves, I propose the following solution:

Faith vs. Reason?

Debates like that touted in "Bill Nye Debates Ken Ham" have never impressed me. In the first place, I've never enjoyed a debate between amateurs that pretends to be serious. In the second place, I've been exposed to much more challenging debates, for example, that between Bertrand Russell and Jesuit Fr. Frederick C. Copleston. (See "Fr. Copleston vs. Bertrand Russell". The debate between Bertrant Russell and G.K.

Evangelii Gaudium, Paragraph 40

The Church is herself a missionary disciple; she needs to grow in her interpretation of the revealed word and in her understanding of truth. It is the task of exegetes and theologians to help “the judgment of the Church to mature”.[42] The other sciences also help to accomplish this, each in its own way. With reference to the social sciences, for example, John Paul II said that the Church values their research, which helps her “to derive concrete indications helpful for her magisterial mission”.[43] Within the Church countless issues are being studied and reflected upon with great freedom. Differing currents of thought in philosophy, theology and pastoral practice, if open to being reconciled by the Spirit in respect and love, can enable the Church to grow, since all of them help to express more clearly the immense riches of God’s word. For those who long for a monolithic body of doctrine guarded by all and leaving no room for nuance, this might appear as undesirable and leading to confusion. But in fact such variety serves to bring out and develop different facets of the inexhaustible riches of the Gospel.[44]

In reflecting on paragraph 40 of Evangelii Gaudium, in which Pope Francis speaks of the growth of the Church's understanding of her living faith tradition, I am reminded of the following:

Evangelii Gaudium, paragraph 34

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...In today’s world of instant communication and occasionally biased media coverage, the message we preach runs a greater risk of being distorted or reduced to some of its secondary aspects. In this way certain issues which are part of the Church’s moral teaching are taken out of the context which gives them their meaning. The biggest problem is when the message we preach then seems identified with those secondary aspects which, important as they are, do not in and of themselves convey the heart of Christ’s message. We need to be realistic and not assume that our audience understands the full background to what we are saying, or is capable of relating what we say to the very heart of the Gospel which gives it meaning, beauty and attractiveness.

Pope Francis nailed it, and what he said here applies in spades to the media coverage of this very apostolic exhortation.

Pope Francis under fire from the right.

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Pope Francis has used language to describe problems in his Apostolic Exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium, which has rubbed some sensitive areas among some in the conservative blogosphere/talk radio world. The Pope, of course, has admitted recently that he is not an expert on the technical matters of an economic system.

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