Timothy Radcliffe
Renewing, Liberating, Flourishing
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I was looking out my window at the winter silhouette of a white beam in our garden at Blackfriars Priory in Oxford, wondering what I could say about the topic proposed to me, “the shape of the church to come.” It struck me that the tree might offer a way to explore the subject. The shape of a tree is the fruit of its interaction with its environment. Its leaves receive sunlight and convert it into sugars; the roots burrow down for nourishment and water; the bark is its vital skin. The tree exists in itself, of course, but it is only alive in multiple interactions with what is not itself. The shape of the church to come will also be determined by how it interacts with our world. The church faces the dilemma that has shaped Judaism over the centuries: how to avoid both assimilation to society, which would lead to the church’s disappearance, and the ghetto, another form of death. What sort of dynamic interaction with the world would let the church flourish?

We pose this question at an interesting moment in the history of our culture, with quite different challenges from when America was founded a century ago, or even when Karl Rahner, S.J., posed the question in 1974. We are slowly moving beyond the culture of the Enlightenment, which has largely shaped how we have seen things for the last few hundred years. I do not wish to attack the Enlightenment and blame it for the woes of the modern world. It has been an immensely beneficial moment in the history of humanity. But some of its thought patterns locked the church in narrow places, cramped her into ideological positions that have not always helped the church to flourish, like a tree confined in the angle of a rock. The emergence of a new world with fresh ways of thinking may offer a new spring for the church.

One characteristic of this Enlightenment age has been its competitive nationalism. Western empires, above all the British, imposed national identities on peoples who had other ways of understanding themselves: tribal, feudal, ethnic, migratory, mythical. To have an identity in this world was to have a flag and a national song. One consequence has been nationalistic wars, culminating in the dreadful massacres of the 20th century. Now we all are becoming citizens of a global village, and here the church can lead the way. We are already the most global institution on the planet. But to do so, we must seize the day: Carpe diem!

Tradition and Progress

One of the dichotomies that structured the mindset of the Enlightenment was the opposition between tradition and progress. To be “enlightened” was to cast off the shackles of the past, especially the philosophy of Aristotle and the dogmas of the Catholic Church. So the church was seen as an institution that was of its very nature opposed to modernity. The church often made the mistake of accepting this image instead of challenging the categories that trapped it in the past. In the Syllabus of Errors of 1864, Pope Pius IX condemned as an error that the pope “can and should reconcile himself with progress, liberalism and recent civilization.” So the church was often seen as necessarily opposed to democracy, to freedom, to new ideas and to science.

The Second Vatican Council tried to liberate us from this mental imprisonment, but it is hard to give up entrenched ways of thought, and so many Catholics still define themselves as either “traditionalist” or “progressive.” Such polarization is deeply wounding and inhibits the flourishing of the church. It is as if an antipathy were to develop between the trunk of the tree, the tree’s past, as it were, which holds it high, and the vital surfaces of the leaves, the bark and the roots, which keep it alive.

That old Enlightenment world is fading. The myth of “progress,” its secular faith, is looking pretty implausible as we face ecological disaster and the rise of religious terrorism. For the Enlightenment, if progress becomes doubtful, then one is left with despair or traditionalism. But for Catholicism, this moment could lead us to a renewed, vital sense of tradition in a dynamic interaction with modernity. One consequence is that teaching would again be seen as inherently dialogical.

The Enlightenment put in question the whole concept of teaching. Nicholas Lash, of Cambridge University, wrote in his book Believing Three Ways in One God: “The Enlightenment left us with what we might call a crisis of docility. Unless we have the courage to work things out for ourselves, to take as true only that which we have personally attained or, perhaps, invented, then meanings and values, descriptions and instructions, imposed by other people, feeding other people’s power, will inhibit and enslave us, bind us into fables and falsehoods from the past. Even God’s truth, perhaps especially God’s truth, is no exception to this rule. Only slaves and children should be teachable, or docile.”

A Man of Conversation

Teaching about Jesus Christ is necessarily dialogical, because he was a man of conversation. The whole of St. John’s Gospel, from the discussion of John the Baptist with the priests and Levites until Jesus’ final exchange with Peter on the beach, is one probing, exploratory conversation after another. Jesus shares his life and message with the disciples by opening a space of dialogue, a spacious world in which they can abide. The Trinity itself is the eternal, loving, equal, undominative conversation of God. Herbert McCabe, O.P., described our entry into the life of the Trinity as being like a child who hears intelligent adults having a wonderful conversation in a pub. In his book God, Christ and Us, he wrote: “Think for a moment of a group of three or four intelligent adults relaxing together in one of those conversations that have really taken off. They are being witty and responding quickly to each other—what in Ireland they call ‘the Crack.’ Serious ideas may be at issue, but no one is being serious. Nobody is being pompous or solemn (nobody is preaching). There are flights of fancy. There are jokes and puns and irony and mimicry and disrespect and self-parody.... Now this child is like us when we hear about the Trinity.”

So our preaching and teaching as Christians are necessarily conversational. Otherwise we would be like pacifists trying to convince our opponents by beating them up. Indeed, the word “homily” comes from a Greek word meaning “to converse.” Preaching is at the service of conversation that is the church.

Some Christians remain suspicious of dialogue. This was a hot topic at the Asian Synod of Bishops. It was seen by some as potentially relativistic, as if all religions were equal. But nearly all the Asian episcopal conferences disagreed. Indian bishops insisted that dialogue is “the new Asian way of being church.” Dialogue is not an alternative to preaching; it is preaching.

All true conversation leads to conversion of all the interlocutors. Pierre Claverie, O.P., the bishop of Oran, Algeria, dedicated his life to dialogue with Islam. This led to his own conversion, as he learned to see the face of Christ in his Muslim friends. It led to their conversion too. Some of them were deepened in their faith as Muslims, and a few became Christian. One consequence of moving beyond the alien categories of the Enlightenment could be renewal of how we understand what it is to be a teaching, preaching church in vital interaction with our world.

An Oasis of Freedom

Another element of the Enlightenment mindset from which we need to be liberated is “the culture of control.” In A Secular Age, Charles Taylor has plotted its development. Compared with the relative freedom and chaos of the Middle Ages, we see the emergence of absolute monarchs, the state, the police and the army. The poor are no longer seen as images of Christ, to whom we are bound by love, but as a source of danger that must be policed. The insane must be locked up in what Michel Foucault called “le grand renfermement,” the great lockup. Society is no longer understood organically but as a mechanism that can be adjusted. When belief in God weakened, there was a vacancy left that we rushed to fill. As the atheist in the Victorian cartoon said, “I did not believe in God until I discovered that I was he.” The result is an endless growth of legislation. The British government has introduced 3,000 new criminal offenses in the last 10 years. We are monitored incessantly.

In contrast to this culture of control, the church should be an oasis of Christ’s freedom. But that is not always so. Instead, the church has imitated secular society in centralizing power, in decision making and in the appointment of bishops. This was perhaps unavoidable, given that empires in the 19th century did everything possible to acquire power over the church. But now we are creeping into a new world, where “the culture of control” may be fading away. A centralized nation-state, with complete control of trade and currency, is no longer possible in a global village. Businesses are discovering that they flourish best if decisions are decentralized and creativity and experimentation are encouraged. Let us hope that the church will breathe more easily and reverse the centuries-long tendency to centralization, which began even before the Enlightenment, and help its members to recover some of Christ’s joyful spontaneity.

The shape of a tree is the fruit of its free interaction with air, soil, sun and rain. How might the shape of the church change? A first way might be in evolving multiple institutions that give different people a voice and authority in the church. Medieval society was a complex interlocking of all sorts of institutions: the hierarchy, universities, religious orders and monasteries, the monarchy and nobility, lay guilds and fraternities. One should not be overly romantic about the Middle Ages, as if it were some golden age of democracy. Yet in that less disciplined world, kings and bishops, abbots and abbesses, preachers and teachers, nobles and merchants—all had their say in the endless conversation of the church and society, even if one risked being burned at the stake if one said the wrong thing.

The rise of the nation-state saw a simplification of society, as power was increasingly concentrated in the hands of secular governments. To some extent, the church again imitated society, and the hierarchy became almost the sole real power within the church. If the church is to have a healthy and complex interaction with society, neither retreating into a ghetto nor going down the plughole of assimilation, then we need a dynamic Catholic culture. This means universities and faculties in which we have the confidence to explore our faith, to ask difficult questions, to try out new ideas, to play with ideas, to float hypotheses without timidity, not feeling that we have to get it right the first time because otherwise we shall be in hot water.

I expect a massive revival of religious life soon, even in the West. This has happened every couple of centuries since the fourth, and will surely come again soon. We need the diversity of styles of life, spiritualities, charisms of different religious orders to free the church from the heaviness of uniformity. We have seen the development of new lay movements, especially in France, Spain and Italy. Let us hope that others will emerge that will flourish in the rest of the church. We need institutional creativity so that laypeople, especially women, acquire a voice and visibility. This is not to undermine the hierarchy or to diminish its power. If anything, it would be invigorated, as it held together the complex, vital creativity of the community in the unity of the body of Christ.

The Flourishing Tree

If the great tree of the church is to flourish, then we also need a moral vision that neither locks us in a ghetto nor assimilates us to society. The church is neither a sect, hermetically sealed from the world, nor a group of people who happen to share a number of opinions, like a bridge club that meets on Sundays. We need a moral vision that engages us as people of the 21st century and leads to our flourishing. Many Catholics understand morality in a way that reflects an Enlightenment culture of control, obligation and prohibition. To be a Catholic is to accept the rules, starting with the Ten Commandments. Bertrand Russell said that these should be regarded like questions in an examination: No candidate should attempt more than six! Commandments have always, obviously, had a role in Catholic morality, but with the Enlightenment they became central, rather than being part of our formation as people who seek our happiness in God.

The renewal of virtue ethics, especially in North America, promises a way beyond a voluntaristic morality. It is not so much about acts as about becoming the sort of person who finds happiness in God. By practicing the cardinal virtues of prudence, courage, temperance and justice, we can become pilgrims on the way to holiness. With the theological virtues of faith, hope and love, we are given a foretaste of the end of the journey. A morality founded on the virtues is about the transformation of our desires rather than their control.

Many people find themselves ill at ease in the church. People who have been divorced and remarried, or gay people, or people living in some other “irregular” situation may wonder whether they belong and can ever be anything more than second-class citizens. As Western society drifts away from its Christian origins, more and more people will wonder whether they belong inside or outside the walls. A moral vision founded on the virtues invites everyone, whoever they are and whatever they have done, to begin the journey home to God. It neither locks outside nor accepts the ethics of society.

There are many other ways in which the end of the Enlightenment may be an exciting moment for the church. For example, its Cartesian individualism, with an image of the mind as the ghost in the machine, does not sit well with a Catholic understanding of the utter unity of mind, soul and body, as in Aquinas (and as expressed in the whole of the church’s sacramental life, which blesses the dramas of our embodied lives: birth and death, eating and drinking, sex and sickness). Catholic social teaching on the primacy of the common good suddenly seems the only sensible ethics for a planetary population faced with ecological catastrophe.

Many things often thought of as typically Catholic—an authoritarian style of teaching, centralized control, a legalistic approach to morality, suspicion of the body—are, perhaps, a result of our church’s conformity to the culture of the Enlightenment. As we move into another moment in humanity’s history, we may find the church renewing itself, liberated from the confines of a way of thought that, though hugely beneficial to humanity in many ways, cramped the church’s life and obscured its visibility as a sign of the Kingdom. “What is the kingdom of God like? And to what shall I compare it? It is like a grain of mustard seed which someone took and sowed in his garden; and it grew and became a tree, and the birds of the air made nests in its branches”(Lk 13:18f).

 

Timothy Radcliffe, O.P., is the former master general of the Order of Preachers (the Dominicans) and author of numerous books.

Comments

CINDY KOSTRNA | 4/30/2009 - 9:34pm
This article is a breath of fresh air in that it speaks of people taking hold of their faith and realizing the discipleship they were endowed with at their baptism. Catch words such as "liberal" or "progressive" merely define an attitude, they do not define who we are as baptized Christians - priests, prophets, and kings. As such, we share in the ministry of Christ and that ministry demands that we engage and connect with each other, that we "dialogue" as Timothy Radcliffe states. The only way that we can constructively dialogue and engage is to take possession of our shared ministry in Christ in an informed and faith-filled way. The "shape of the Church to come" would benefit greatly from a more educated and better informed laity and this is where the idea of dialogue is critical. If the promptings of the Spirit are to be fully realized and articulated then people must be taught that each one of us possess particular charisms that were given to us for the benefit of building up the kingdom and shaping the Church as the Spirit wills it be shaped. Adult education is one of the keystones in building the Church of the future and both the laity and the Church owe it to each other in and through their shared ministry to engage each other in constructive dialogue in order to form, inform and shape the Church of the future that the Spirit is prompting us to build.
Carroll Canton | 4/28/2009 - 10:55am
Radcliffe says this: "I expect a massive revival of religious life soon, even in the West." Where? At Oxford Blackfriars? Most Catholics I know are disenfranchised with the Catholic Church. They feel betrayed by JPII and BXVI and have either gone away totally or have joined Evangelical Protestant Churches or Catholic house church groups to keep nourished spiritually. Where do you see any spirituality in the current hierarchy? What are you personally going to do to bring this revival about? You disappointed me with this article. I have degrees from a Jesuit University, Dominican roots and I have read many of your books. Needless to say, I expected much more.
David Healy | 4/12/2009 - 10:22am
Thank you for a thought-provoking essay, and especially for using the example of Pierre Claverie. I had not heard of him, and your essay prompted me to research his life and work.
Michael Bindner | 4/11/2009 - 10:21am
Nicholas, I think your comment was on Susan's article. I was talking about the Tridentine Mass.
Edison Woods | 4/11/2009 - 9:48am
After reading eleven comments about this article I am astonished by the diversity of opinion expressed. So many voices talking at once is disheartening. I am well-aware that the middle ages was not the golden age for Christianity but there was at least some sense of unity among the majority of Catholics. In my long study of history I have never found division to be a positive event. Instead, such an event more often than not signals the growth and spread of human misery in all its forms. Let us forget the watch words of traditional or progressive and remember instead the Church our Lord Jesus established through the words he addressed to Saint Peter and confirmed by his sacrifice on the cross, "Upon this rock I will build my Church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it." When we as Catholics have done this, then and only then, will we find happiness in God.
NICHOLAS CLIFFORD | 4/10/2009 - 8:16pm
Radcliffe for Pope! How can we forward the cause? (though I also agree with Michael Bindner that while Radcliffe's argument about the Enlightenment is an interesting one, one can't hang the movement by blaming it for the emergence of the "typically Catholic. . . authoritarian style of teaching, centralized control, a legalistic approach to morality," etc. etc. Such aspects existed well before the 18th century, and if the church sold itself out by too broad an assimilation of secular cultural norms, the deed perhaps was done during the Renaissance and the rise of the "new monarchies" that sought authoritarian centralization as a reaction to what seemed to chaos of the middle ages with their competing centers of authority.)
Pat Bennett | 4/10/2009 - 9:30am
Thank you Timothy Radcliffe!! From the moment, as a young teenage girl, when I was the first in my parish to stop wearing a hat and first felt the breeze of Pope John XXIII's burst of fresh air and /trust/ in his fellow man, I have considered myself a progressive Catholic. But, as Radcliffe says, this traditionalist/progressive dichotomy is just polarizing and wounding the church - it is, at this point, counter-productive. In truth, it's not tradition that bothers me. Rather, it's the exclusionary aspects of the 'far-right' elements, the 'fundamentalists' of /all /religions that I recoil against. Perhaps /'a radical catholic' /is a better way to be. 'Radical', I've recently come to learn, means 'root.' Being radical means to go to the heart, the core. If all religions would go back to their roots - their essence - in order to find their way out of these divisions, perhaps we would find that we all emanate from the /same source. /How 'radical' would that be! How life-changing for the world! Our own hierarchy has become too distrustful of the individual; too patriarchal in its attitude; too grasping of power and status to consider any change, however much the world is begging for it; however educated, discerning & inspired the laity may be; however equal the talents of men and women, married and celibate, gay and straight. There is far too much 'circling of the wagons' going on today, which can only result in the exclusion of others. But surely God loves /all/ of his/her children. How could it be otherwise - what parent doesn't love all of his children? What parent doesn't give each of her children chance after chance? What parent wouldn't reach out to a child who may have rejected one route to heaven (i.e., one religion) with another route? What parent, indeed! I prefer the image of a Hoberman sphere - which expands and collapses around a core center. With God in the center and all of mankind on the circumference, we can only come closer to God by coming closer to others; and coming closer to others brings us all closer to God - there is no other way. The exclusionary view of "I'm save, you're not" just sends us all our different ways - outward!
Elsie Holcombe | 4/9/2009 - 2:15pm
My prayer for my very large and still growing family has always been that they be given a constant awareness of the presence of God in their lives. Your paragraph, "It is not so much about acts as about becoming the sort of person who finds happiness in God. By practicing the cardinal virtues of prudence, courage, temperance and justice, we can become pilgrims on the way to holiness. With the theological virtues of faith, hope and love, we are given a foretaste of the end of the journey. A morality founded on the virtues is about the transformation of our desires rather than their control," sums this up quite nicely for me
Michael Bindner | 4/7/2009 - 2:36pm
I predict a generational shift in the Church, as the altar boys from the "Spirit of Vatican II" era become Bishops and major donors. I don't forsee them not getting their turn. The John Paul II priests won't be taking over directly from the current regime. As time marches on, there will be a cadre of conservative voters who will be, politely speaking, unable to frequently attend Mass due to illness. Meanwhile, many who are infrequent attenders (and Obama voters) will have children and become frequent attenders because of this. Some believe they will become more conservative with age. I don't see it. I also don't see any egalitarian purge when the moderates and liberals do ascend to authority - at least I hope we don't see one. I pray that we treat the conservatives with more gentleness than some conservatives in the Episcopacy and the Holy Office have shown of late.
annie McDog | 4/6/2009 - 12:17pm
This is a load of rubbish. Even the Tablet wouldn't publish it.
7893476 | 4/4/2009 - 10:46pm
A brilliant article! But from the point of view from the pew in a growing parish in Florida, preaching as conversation and dialogue seems to be still way too far from the American church where preachers usually "play it safe." Otherwise the collection will be severely affected. The faithful seem to be there in the pews with the expectation to be consoled or to be gently soothed of what ails them as individuals. It is fair enough to say that faith is still too privitized, and hence, treated as a commodity. If what is said in the pulpit does not fit my psyche, I can easily "delete" it, close my pocketbook and write a nasty letter to the bishop who may gauge pastoral effectivity by the amount of the bishop's appeal. In a parish where retirees from the north abound, to "play it safe" seem to be the "right" choice. Or is it? Oh well, let the parishioners catch the early bird dinner!
CLAIRE BANGASSER MS | 4/4/2009 - 4:45pm
I catch myself feeling hopeful as I read your article. Thank you.
S STEFFEN | 4/4/2009 - 11:22am
THE BIG PICTURE: Nature, God, Church & Self Cultural assumptions and presumptions are under radical scrutiny for the roles they play in (mis)understanding ourselves and causing eco-social dead ends. Our cultural past has to be measured against new knowledge; some assumptions and presumptions have to be not only challenged but have to go for they are undoing us and wasting ecologies. Even certain understandings of Church and self are no longer credible or satisfying. At this time humankind is brought up short by the cumulative crisis of human making. Ecologies, human institutions, families, communities and long held values are failing, and not just coincidentally. Under these circumstances how should humankind move forward? A reasonable start is to reconsider values, understandings of God, nature, self and relations with others. Today’s world crises didn’t just happen they are caused by human misbehavior, of which we are sometimes aware and sometimes unaware. Each generation must answer for itself how it fits in the “big picture”, based on information passed on to it and on circumstances it finds itself in. In the whole human experience, in global life experience, the consequences of human excess and wrongdoing perhaps have never been so radically consequential. Cultural misunderstandings and massive wrongdoing call for new insight, new analysis and synthesis of the evolutionary history of culture and life on Earth, which can expose errors and misconceptions and point humankind in new directions. How do we teach and learn self-understanding? We start out very much conformed to age-old habits of upbringing. The skeletons of cultural history are the bones passed on to us and upon which we must by our own living grow the flesh that makes us human. Creation and evolution are ongoing realities and tasks belonging to each generation. 1. Creation and Evolution, Faith and Reason What do we know about ourselves, for sure? We are born individually of a woman and a man. Whether male or female, we are female/ male characterized, physically and psychically — everyone different, but alike. We come into this world under the laws of nature and are at all times accountable to the laws of nature. We are graced by nature in body and spirit. “Grace supposes nature as faith supposes reason”, John Courtney Murray, SJ. Female and male, we are endowed in faith and reason. By reason of essential interdependence, we are grace, and threat, to one another. We know that we have personal and social needs, and that these complement each other when our lives are rightly ordered. We also know that impulses toward personal self-interest can blind us to other-interest, to social responsibilities and sensitivity for nature. We know that human life has not been forever; that we have a history; that we have evolved over time with impact on other life; that the life of each of us is with impact on future life. We know that our role in life’s history is characterized by the graces of spirit, by the way we relate intentionally with nature and other life. We know that dominion appetites and instincts to self-reproduce cause us to be insensitive to others and blind to natural limits in handling human overreach. We know that the unrestrained passions and appetites of prolix humankind are causing irreversible ecological disaster, the destruction of species, and global heating. Our cultural/ personal overreach is blowing back at us. The expectations we put on nature are more than nature can tolerate. We must wake up to our destructive behavior and confront ourselves. Where have we gone wrong? Is religion helping us? Is our belief in God having any moral effect in our lives? In the face of history, culture, reason and faith we must ask ourselves “who are we? Who is God. What do we believe? It’s time that we probe our “within” and “without”. Where are our understandings misinformed. What “god” do I really serve? New analysis and synthesis,<
Joseph Cullen | 4/4/2009 - 11:03am
Timothy Radcliffe, as always, takes us beyond our normal categories of thinking. He was never going to write about organisation or hierarchy but about getting closer to God and our brothers and sisters. Much of this article seems to be recycled from his recent book "Why go to Church?", and is none the worse for that. For anyone who has not read this, or his earlier "What is the Point of Being a Christian?", they cannot be too highly recommended.
JOSEPH GANNON | 4/3/2009 - 9:44pm
"Many things often thought of as typically Catholic—an authoritarian style of teaching, centralized control, a legalistic approach to morality, suspicion of the body—are, perhaps, a result of our church’s conformity to the culture of the Enlightenment." Well, "perhaps" not. Think about the pre-Enlightenment church. Notice any of the above characteristics in it? Radcliffe is on the side of the angels, no doubt, but whoever edited this piece for America might have done the author a favor by pressing for a more rigorously argued case.
Michael Bindner | 4/3/2009 - 5:10pm
Am I the only one who did not notice that the actual shape of the Church to come was not mentioned? Of course, to really delve into these questions would not be very safe, given the environment of authority currently gripping the Church. I note with interest John Pedler's comments regarding the Mass of John XXIII (or at any rate, that of his Holy Office). One would think that someone would be offering it in the venacular. We have the Novus Ordo in both English and Latin and the 1963 Mass in Latin. How about completing the fourth combination? One would think that would be the logical thing to do, especially if it is superior to the new order. Let the people in the pews hear it in their own tongue and let them judge which Mass represents the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass they wish offered in their name.
John Pedler | 4/3/2009 - 4:05pm
Yes indeed - it is particularly distressing, damaging, and divisive that the Church is entering this third millenium with so many Catholics describing themselves as either "traditional" or "progressive". And this after Vatican II freed the Church from the defensive mind-set that followed the rise of Protestantism. Of course there would always have been what we used to call "black Catholics" whose views on extra ecclesiam nulla salus, the Jews, etc. lacked that greatest of virtues, charity. But Vatican II came down heavily against them. I'm afraid the post Vatican II division came about because of the Paul VI novus ordo, and the virtually complete suppression of the Pius V Mass, which went far further than anything the Council had called for. "Progressives" - in their loyalty to Vatican II - mistakenly believe that those (who include Pope Benedict XVI) who worked for and now rejoice in the freeing of the John XXIII missal are "Vatican II deniers", often simply because they are under the misapprehension the "novus ordo" is what Vatican II approved. In fact the societies within the Church that forward the 1963 Missal (e.g. Una Voce and the Latin Mass Society) specifically state that they accept Vatican II. So the division is not about belief - both parties believe in the immense mystery of the Real Presence - but about pastoral care: many Catholics find that they can the more easily experience the Mysterium Fidei at the very heart of the faith through the Pius V liturgy. Now that the Pope - who puts great emphasis on the benefits of Vatican II - has given those who want it the right to the Pius V liturgy, this mistaken division ought now be overcome - given a little charity - so that the Church can indeed enter the third millenium united in face of the immense challenges she faces.
Richard Cross | 4/3/2009 - 3:32pm
Father Radcliffe's is a lovely, generous-spirited essay. I hope he's right about the church's prospects--although a glance at the religion blogs (e.g., both ends of the spectrum of response to Notre Dame's invitation to President Obama) indicates just how much bad karma has to be overcome.
SHARON FISCHER MS | 4/3/2009 - 2:13pm
Thank you thank you thank you. This is the Church I want to belong to, the church I have worked to bring into being, the Church I believe in. Thank you for putting it into words and concepts I can share with others. Your words inspire me to keep working and believing that such a Church can exist and that I can continue to be a part of it.