Taking Risks

As a woman religious and former member of a formation team, I read “Religious Life in the Age of Facebook,” by Richard G. Malloy, S.J. (7/7), with interest. I have had a number of experiences where hundreds of young adults of diverse backgrounds immersed themselves in a communal setting where they participated in prayer, meditation, healthy nutrition and awareness of the earth. Unfortunately, it is the secular institutes that seem to be drawing the young by offering them the opportunity of a collective transformative experience through meaningful spiritual practices.

Perhaps we would see a turnaround if all involved with recruiting new members would risk creating different spiritual practices of a multiethnic nature honoring the evolution of a diverse culture’s way of prayer. There are many ways to pray. Can we risk believing in God’s imagination for the future?

Also, a minor quibble. In discussing religious orders, Malloy comments on “sensitive issues concerning race and class.” However, I missed the inclusion of the priesthood in his mention of the “L. L. Bean” lifestyles of men religious, and would expand this to include the high-end rectories, homes and cars of some priests. Yes, I agree, many of us are anything but countercultural. So why would a young adult “give it all up” when in some cases, one received more than one left in a previous life? If we expect the young to be attracted to our lifestyle, do we need to clean up our act regarding the sexism in the church and the lifestyles of those who profess to give up all to follow Christ?

Lillian Needham, S.S.J.

Chestnut Hill, Pa.

Outside the Hospital Doors

As a pro-life twentysomething woman, I deeply appreciated the articles by Jennifer Fulwiler (“A Sexual Revolution,” 7/7) and Shannon Crounse (“Cheering for Change,” 7/7). Through my professional career as a service provider for homeless people and my parish involvement as a Gabriel Project volunteer, I have had the opportunity to work with women experiencing all manner of crises. In doing so, I have learned that being truly pro-life encompasses more than opposition to abortion. We must also give voice to working single mothers, mothers who are incarcerated and families who make choices you or I consider less than ideal.

It is my sincere hope that the future of the pro-life movement includes support for more pro-family public policies that, long after a child’s birth, continually reaffirm a woman’s (or couple’s) decision to parent. We cannot achieve and maintain a culture of life if we fail to prioritize support for families once the baby is born. Comprehensive pro-life public policy should follow families out the hospital doors, through graduation and beyond.

Erin Grip Brown

Austin, Tex.

Hold the Applause

In “Parsing Race and Gender” (7/21), Terry Golway suggests there may be some validity to the suggestion that Catholics voted for Hillary Clinton in the primaries because of their familiarity with women holding positions of leadership within the Catholic Church in the United States. But it can just as easily be stated that women have not been given leadership opportunities in the church, as the ordination of women and the role of lay women remain unresolved, contentious issues.

Perhaps Catholics voted for Clinton not because they are accustomed to seeing women in positions of power, but because they are unaccustomed to seeing persons of color in positions of power. Historically, the Catholic Church has maintained a fairly homogenous mix of followers, with exceptions and advances made within the past 10 years because of an influx of immigrants. But its leadership base continues to reflect its history, with white males primarily holding positions of power. Instead of heralding the church for creating “familiarity” with women in power, we should be asking why it has failed to establish total gender and racial equality in positions of leadership in the church.

Clare Greene

Catonsville, Md.

Golden Age

Congratulations to James T. Keane, S.J., for his review of Ron Hansen’s extraordinary novel Exiles (7/7). With Mariette in Ecstasy and Atticus, Hansen revealed that he is a gifted creator of that much-discussed entity, “the Catholic novel.” Reflecting on Hansen’s work, recent novels by Alice McDermott, Mary Gordon, Peter Quinn and Anne Rice and the prodigious output of Andrew Greeley and Ralph McInerny, I wonder if we are witnessing an American Catholic renascence in literature reminiscent of that in Europe in the 1940s and 50s, as evidenced by the novels of Graham Greene, Evelyn Waugh, François Mauriac and Georges Bernanos.

(Rev.) Robert E. Lauder

Jamaica, N.Y.

Councils, Not Covenants

Thanks to Austen Ivereigh for his thoughtful and comprehensive article on the state of Anglicanism (“For the Sake of Unity,” 8/4). These are perhaps the most crucial days in the life of this expression of the Catholic faith since the 16th century.

When Ivereigh suggests that the crisis is ecclesiological, not doctrinal, he is fundamentally correct. But when one peels the skins of the ecclesiological crises within Anglicanism, one discovers the crisis has spread to missiology and doctrine.

When one examines the process of discernment and decisions in Anglicanism, one discovers that conciliarity in the church came to an end when Henry Tudor suspended both canon law and conciliar precedent and entrusted ecclesial governance to the crown and Privy Council in consultation with the bishops of England. The church lost a crucial dimension of its heritage, and Anglicanism was set on a course for governance that has set the framework for the present global crisis of faith and authority. Without the clear connections to a canonical and conciliar tradition that is historic, the fundamental form and expression that has been promoted is one of a covenant. Sadly, a covenant does not breed unity, because it affirms autonomy over and above the primacy of a faith and order through the ministry of a formal college/synod of bishops.

It is clear from the events at Lambeth that the covenant lacks the significance and substance to unify Anglicanism. The Catholic tradition East and West has for ages called for a college of bishops in synod to embody and act as the expression of the church’s unity. It is very significant, however, that whenever and wherever the federated view of “canonical subordinationism” occurs in Anglican conversations, the idea of the Catholic unity dissipates and the possibilities for conciliar resolution fade.

Ever since the Council of Jerusalem (Acts 15), the churches have realized the need to express and strengthen their koinonia by coming together to discuss matters of mutual concern and to meet contemporary challenges to the faith.

Early in the history of the church, a function of oversight of the other bishops of their regions was assigned to bishops of prominent sees. One of their duties was to keep the churches faithful to the will of Christ. This practice has continued to the present day but not in Anglicanism, as it lacks the effective structures.

This form of episkope is a service to the church carried out in co-responsibility with all the bishops of the region. All recognize that every bishop receives at ordination both responsibility for his local church and the obligation to maintain it in living awareness and practical service of the other churches. The church of God is found in each of them and in their koinonia.

As it was then, it should be now. The calling of a council is perhaps the most historic and hopeful prospect for Anglicanism.

(Rev.) Kevin Francis Donlon

Tampa, Fla.

Comments

Deborah Foster | 10/29/2008 - 12:25am
In nostalgically recalling a time "when a college of bishops in synod to embody and act as the expression of the church’s unity" as a model for hopeful prospect of Unity Anglicanism, the Rev is making a good argument for abandoning the idea of Anglicanism as a separate faith tradition and returning to the Roman church. Why reinvent the wheel? Perhaps because the Roman tradition has effectively maintained the duties of bishops to keep the churches faith to the "will of Christ" and that has assuredly kept the scriptural mandates prohibiting divorce, adultery, remarriage, etc

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