A- A A+

Catholicism beyond slogans

Andrew Hamilton |  01 May 2013

Crossed street signs, one says Liberal the other says ConservativeIn the Catholic Church over recent years there has been much talk of evangelisation, the New Evangelisation and, more recently, of Evangelical Catholicism. These phrases are often used as slogans, but the questions to which they are answers are important beyond the Catholic Church.

The question is how to hand on a tradition, whether that be of a church or a nation. In the Catholic Churches of the West it has long been recognised as an acute challenge. When societies were Catholic, or Catholics formed a cohesive cultural group, the ascription of young Catholics to the Catholic Church could be taken for granted. It was part of communal identity.

In Western societies today communal allegiances are weak. They are not automatically handed on but need to be chosen. Comparatively few young people born into Catholic families choose to commit to their church.

That is why preaching the gospel (evangelisation), a phrase previously used mainly of missionaries going into non-Christian societies, came to name a task for Catholics in nominally Christian societies. If people were to choose to be or stay Catholic, faith had to be commended as a personal choice.

Towards the beginning of the new millennium Pope John Paul II spoke of a new evangelisation. He emphasised the importance of a personal commitment and relationship with Christ within the Church. Out of the happiness found in that commitment would follow the desire to share faith with others. A church whose members had such a strong commitment, too, would be a vibrant body that could contribute effectively to building a better society.

Evangelical Catholicism is a more recent description of that deep personal faith in Christ, nourished by prayer and the scriptures and lived faithfully in the Catholic Church. It is an attractive personal ideal.

Many Catholics have had reservations about the boosting of New Evangelisation and its variants. It often functioned as a slogan, avoiding reflection on the reasons why the Church was unattractive to young people.

By many of its advocates, among them George Weigel, it has also been presented in sharp opposition to other forms of Catholic membership, particularly to liberal Catholicism and cultural Catholicism. These were seen as only marginally or selectively Catholic and as unable to encourage a personal commitment to Christ.

Central to some presentations of Evangelical Catholicism, too, was a strong and narrow focus on Catholic teaching on issues of life and sexuality. Commitment to the poor, to peace, to social justice and to the environment were seen as discretionary, political or as a distraction. The central political issues for Catholics were named as those of personal morality, not of social morality.

The core insight of Evangelical Catholicism is correct. Those who belong to the Catholic Church and to other religious groups, will increasingly do so, not through birth into Catholic families or Catholic schooling, but by personal choice. Their commitment will be counter cultural, and will need to rest on a personal commitment to Christ and a strong allegiance to the Catholic community.

It is also true that the future of Catholicism will not rest with Liberal Catholicism. But neither will it rest with Conservative Catholicism nor Evangelical Catholicism. Not because those who would define themselves as members of such groupings are liberal or conservative, but because they are essentially reactive.

They derive their strength and energy from opposition to the perceived weakness or wickedness of other groups and of their clerical champions. People are rarely motivated to take out a membership of a footy club simply out of hatred for a faction within it. Nor are they much of a gift to their chosen club if that is why they join it.

If it is to be more than a slogan Evangelical Catholicism must also be a radical Catholicism. Not for sociological reasons but to show that it is rooted in the following of Jesus Christ. And that implies attitudes to human life, to the use of wealth and power, to conflict, to relationships to one another and to the environment, which will be counter-cultural in any society and in any economic or political order.

These attitudes will be expressed naturally in a personal simplicity of life, in an affinity with those deprived and despised in society, and in an engagement with society based in respect and compassion. They will also be reflected in a diversity of theologies, spiritualities and political priorities among Catholics. Evangelical means good news, and good news always makes its hearers more free.

Andrew Hamilton headshotAndrew Hamilton is consulting editor of Eureka Street and Australian Catholics magazine. The upcoming Winter 2013 edition of Australian Catholics will explore the theme of 'Faith in the public square'. Subscribe online here

Image from Shutterstock



Comments should be short, respectful and on topic. Email is requested for identification purposes only.

Word Count: 0 (please limit to 200)

Submitted comments

The future of the Catholic Church resides in holistic acceptance, fidelity and commitment to the Catholic church founded by Jesus Christ, with its commissioned Vicar The Pope;and utter fidelity to magisterium in a church which is the mystical body,en-souled by the Holy Spirit and assured of Christ's companionship until the end of time. Missionary evangelisation pertains to its essence. Dissent a cancerous metastasis

fr john george 01 May 2013

It's a big topic you got into there, Andrew. Interesting the reference you made to George F Weigel & his book & concept "Evangelical Catholicism". Weigel strikes me as a Catholic traditionalist who goes very much beyond the old Catholic traditionalism as we knew it in the Anglophone world of Irish-Australian and Irish-American Catholicism in the 1960s. Irishness and the consequent reaction against Britain and the Ascendancy was very much part of that. As someone of English heritage I could not be part of that narrow tribalism of the times which sharply divided the world into Catholic (presumed "saved") and Protestant ( basically condemned to the Eternal Hot Place). My father, an Anglican, being the more religious one, I could not stomach the message. Those times were very narrow. Modern Catholicism seems more what I would term mainstream Christian, which is good, because, as far as I understand it, the Roman Catholic and Orthodox Churches are the solid sheet anchors of mainstream Christianity. Catholics accept traditional (and by that I don't mean narrow pseudo-traditionalist) biblical critics like Tom Wright, formerly Anglican Bishop of Durham, as well they should. I identify myself as firstly a Christian and then a Catholic because I feel, in these times, those of us with similar beliefs need to stand together. I notice someone like Archbishop Mark Coleridge of Brisbane, on Q & A a few weeks ago, giving the sort of broad, mainstream Christian answers to audience questions someone like C S Lewis or the late Professor Davis McCaughey would. Things have changed. I think there is a broad, sane, mainstream Catholicism which was traditionally more in evidence in the traditionally Catholic countries of Western Europe such as France and the Catholic parts of Germany. It came out of a sort of cultural confidence I felt Australian Catholics didn't have because they felt on the cultural fringe of society. Fortunately that has changed. I think Catholicism in Australia is, at last, becoming less Irish and more multicultural and mainstream. I rejoice. May it grow & flourish with God's Grace & Guidance.

Edward F 01 May 2013

Thanks, Andy, for a particularly perceptive appraisal of what lies behind the different 'slogans' associated with current thinking about evangelisation.

Gerard Rummery 02 May 2013

The terms "liberal" and "conservative" are used extensively to categorise believers, not only in Catholicism but in other denominations as well. Our backgrounds, in what manner of household we are raised, often determines our outlook on life and this can flow into our 'reading' of what religion is all about. Two people can read the same passage in the Bible and interpret the passage in significantly different ways. What we should have in common though is firstly, a respect for diversity and flowing from that respect, we can then follow what God wants from us: to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God.

Pam 02 May 2013

"Central to some presentations of Evangelical Catholicism, too, was a strong and narrow focus on Catholic teaching on issues of life and sexuality. Commitment to the poor, to peace, to social justice and to the environment were seen as discretionary, political or as a distraction. The central political issues for Catholics were named as those of personal morality, not of social morality." Sorry Andrew, I think you are judging what you don't know in this paragraph. Fidelity in personal morality has led countless numbers into making a real difference in social morality. I have often marvelled at Opus Dei, how they form teams of young people to enthusiatically sacrifice school holidays to go and build and minister in developing nations and also work each week in crisis centres and refuges here in Australia. They are not wasting time searching for an identity as a person by experimenting with the distractions of an over-emphasised social life, for they are sure and comfortable in their knowledge of Catholic personal identity and morality.

Fr Mick Mac Andrew 02 May 2013

The Mission: One Heart, Many Voices conference organised by Catholic Religious Australia and Catholic Mission brought together people across all of these categories. I hope it will be the beginning of more fruitful and respectful dialogue and cooperation for mission.

Sandie Cornish 02 May 2013

John George's words - especially his 'dissent [is] a cancerous metastasis' don't seem to allow much room for the essential development of doctrine. Some of the new evangelist organisations, like the Neo Catechuminate Way installed by Cardinal Pell at Redfern, still seem to have no awareness of the post Vatican 2 recognition that sin is not only personal but institutional and that the authentic Christian life must be aware of and oppose social, economic, political (and even ecclesiastic) structures that are essentially sinful. They are sinful because they fail to oppose, and so support, the injustices that crush the lives of the poor, the marginalised and the powerless. For these people John George's litany of holistic acceptance, fidelity, commitment and magisterium and the denial of dissent comfortably preserves a status quo that may give an illusory and comfortable certainty - but it does not provide a space in which a Christian endeavouring to relate the Gospels to the real world can exist.

Joe Castley 02 May 2013

The last paragraph is brilliant. We would all do well to start from there and continue on to 'freedom'. Sounds simple but the best things usually are.

Jorie 02 May 2013

What does "diversity of theologies" mean, when the rubber hits the road? Aquinas/Bonaventure/Augustine/Bellarmine/Garrigou- Lagrange/de Lubac/Ratzinger? Yeah, I can live with that. Or Teilhard de Chardin/Kung/Schillebeeckx/Curran/Boff? No dice.

HH 02 May 2013

Many thanks Andrew for sharpening the focus. A difficult conjunction of language, evangelicals, conservatives, liberals, not always easy to discern behind the slogans that silken thread the Christ’s life has woven for us. For my part, there is a crying need for celebration of this amazing land in which we are privileged to act as custodians. As I look out my window, creation is bursting around us. Australia, with its Gondwana heritage, its ancestral people of more than 50,000 years is a truly amazing place. To be part of its ongoing creative processes, to share in that divine function is something church should shout from rooftops. Ritual and liturgical celebration of what it means to live in this land is needed by us all. Let there be an outpouring of joy in the sheer fact of Nature’s munificence, of Christ’s constant identification with creation in parables, and celebration of our own partnership in Christ as co-creators responsible for the future. A celebratory expression of Nature evangelism touches hearts and minds. Every diocese, every Catholic church, at least once a year, a Land/Environment Celebration Day! It is the very stuff of bread and wine.

Jim Bowler 02 May 2013

The rigid, dogmatic and unthinking response of Fr John George demonstrates why many now reject the RC church. Jesus himself reacted against the status quo - i.e. dissented - whilst at the same showing a new way forward.

Patricia R 02 May 2013

An excellent brief article on the complex negotiation required within the Catholic Church to reap the benefit of post-Vatican II openness, without losing the spirit of living commitment to Christ and the Church. Negotiation - yes, because the Church is an organisation, with an 'official' position on questions of faith and morals. Discernment is also critically necessary, given our diversity of theologies. While some may wish to list theologians in for and against categories, Andrew's final paragraph is an invitation to recognise that the Spirit acts where it will and all theologians contribute to the mind of the Church.

Ian Fraser 02 May 2013

It's hard to hand on a tradition when that tradition has been stripped of its content. The sum total of my allegedly Catholic education would amount to a vague awareness of basic Church teachings and an admonishment to 'love one another' without further elaboration. It's honestly hard to see the average Catholic parish as guardians of a tradition in the sense of things 'handed down', since so much has been cast aside within the last one or two generations. In my experience the tradition in this country is very thin, and more noticeably so as we welcome migrants from countries that have retained aspects of their tradition to greater degrees. I sometimes wonder what would happen to other religions - Buddhism, Islam, Hinduism, Judaism - if they abandoned overnight their traditions while still trying to uphold their beliefs and values. I don't think they would survive it. But we're fortunate that the internet allows us now to tap into the traditions kept alive by the universal Church. We can teach ourselves to chant Salve Regina, Te Deum, and many more prayers and hymns composed by our spiritual ancestors and handed down for centuries, enriching the culture of the faith.

Zac 02 May 2013

Joe Castely the mentioned Christ-given-structure is hardly "illusory". As for preconciliar church not opposing status quo-any modern martyrology is replete with martyrs opposing preconciliar status quo[e.g. communist China, and Nazi oppression;then, early 20th century La Cristiada martyrs under Mexican president Calle. Not forgetting the pivotal role of Pope John Paul2[vehement advocate of that abovementioned Christ structured church--The Soviet status quo never recovered![papal role corroborated by Gorbachev in La Stampa 1999.]

fr john george 02 May 2013

Harder to get past slogans than you might think Andy, judging by the take it or leave it crisp certitiudes of Fr george, H.H et el. I think it was Thomas Merton who once quipped that in some kind of stand off between liberal/conservatives or left/right in the church, back the right every time. They know where to get hold of guns lawyers and money and have the conviction muscel to use them. Indeed it seems to me that there are few liberals left inside this grand old imperious roman church any more. Often it is an abrasive and a rather unlovely hubristic and arrogant kind of proselytism that seems to put bums on seats. Often what passes as liberalism is no more than vapid nominalism devioid of relevancy. We struggle to get past an either/or mentality. As H.H. would have it, no dice at all for any of Fr George's cancerous dissenters.Charity in short supply for those whose views do not conform within their triumphalist template. Still i am not holding my breath for Opus Dei youth shock troops to win the day. Too much carrot and stick, repent or burn, force and bribe mis use of christinaity.

Vincent Jewell 02 May 2013

The belief system of John George is flawed. But for an adherent like John it is something he will probably never know. John, take the time to consider the Magisterium is possibly corrupt. The structure of the organisation (Catholic Church) itself is not a divine given and there is plenty of evidence to suggest those who have been running the Church are not really interested in Jesus' message but in power and control. John the focus of Jesus is on service to humanity. it doesen't reside in the palaces of Bishops or in the pronouncements of Princes of the Church. Thanks for sharing Andrew.

Carmel Sheehan 02 May 2013

@Fr John George No offence meant, but I don't understand a word you write. Is that my problem, or yours, or the Church's?

Frank Golding 02 May 2013

Andrew Hamilton:"If it is to be more than a slogan Evangelical Catholicism must also be a radical Catholicism." Catholicism, etymologically means Universalism. Originally the first Community was a Jewish sect, with little sign of universality. When persecuted by the Jewish Establishment it turned to the Gentiles, who embraced its teachings, motivated by the inspiring universal love being displayed. The next evolution in its development occurred when it conquered, and was conquered by, the Roman Empire. The command to spread to all nations was added to Matthews gospel in the 4th Century, by the Roman Community, coupled with the Trinitarian Baptismal formula, which did not originate until that time. There were always "Christian" communities who did not acknowsledge any special priority of Rome. The radical basis of Catholicism lies in the Two Great Commandmens, not in "loyalty" to, or submersion in any human group or community.

Robert Liddy 02 May 2013

We live in a society where in general terms the power brokers (both clerical and secular) seek to control as many people as possible not by rational argument, not by appealing to the more generous side of human nature, but by promising extravagant rewards (heaven on earth) or invoking frightful consequences (hell on earth). This applies to everything from buying a motor car, taking a holiday or drinking a beer. I could go on. Lenin, the master of propagands, devised the revolutionary policy: "Get the slogan right and the people will follow." His most successful slogan for the Bolsheviks in 1917. was: Bread and Peace. PR firms and would-be dictators, wittingly or unwittingly, have followed his example ever since. I would like to see institutions like the Australian Catholic University conduct academically rigorous and sociological research into the catholic church in Australia. I happen to agree with those commentators above who appeaar to be of a progressive bent. They seem to be searchers after truth. I find it hard to digest the opinions of those of a more conservative bent. They seem to imply they possess the whole truth and no further search is necessary.

Uncle Pat 02 May 2013

If I read Andrew correctly I think what he was attempting to do was to metaphorically pitch a large enough intellectual tent which could contain within it all the acceptable understandings of traditional Catholicism. This is something which would be easily understood & accepted amongst the theologically literate. Sometimes the half-theologically-literate don't understand where someone like Andrew is coming from and start a ghastly process of muttering "heresy". That is really bad and uncalled for. I remember this was what once happened to the late, saintly, thoroughly orthodox French Dominican theologian Yves Congar. There is nothing wrong with traditional Catholic beliefs. In fact I think they are a thoroughly good thing. But they need to be presented in language understandable to ordinary folk. The approach of someone like the late Mgr James Gilbey, famed Catholic Chaplain at the University of Cambridge UK for many years, good though it was till and in the 1960s, no longer connects with modern people, whether birth Catholics or not. This is the problem people speaking a sort of church Catholicese, a sub-dialect of the English language, face when trying to evangelise. New wineskins are definitely in order.

Edward F 02 May 2013

Uncle Pat:"...those of a more conservative bent. They seem to imply they possess the whole truth and no further search is necessary" It is becoming increasingly evident that God intends everything to evolve. All 'matter' is "frozen" energy, and takes the form of atoms. Atoms can evolve to become compounds, some of which can evolved to form cells, some of which can evolve to reproduce themselves and give rise to living beings, some of which can evolve to give rise to self-consciousness and rational thought. There is indeed an Intelligent Designer, but the amazing design is not in forming specieds, but in the original energy which is able, eventually, by constant and universal laws, to give rise to intelligent beings, capable of cooperating in the evolutionary potential, either to help promote it to as yet undreamed of goodness and beauty, or to frustrate it, if only for a time, by clinging to traditions formulated by persons, who however intelligent and well intentioned, did not have access to the data -(knowledge and consequent understanding) - required for making definitive solutions to the problems facing them. We need the Faith and Courage to move forward, ever cautiously. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Robert Liddy 02 May 2013

What the above back-and-forth shows is something not all that surprising: that for all the homage paid to "diversity", in fact no-one on any side of this discussion tolerates parameters of acceptable theological diversity too diverse from their own canon. I know I certainly don't. But at least I admit it, and, being suspicious of what seems to be an enthusiasm for diversity-for-its-own-sake (why be for or against?), am consistent. P.S. On another tack: isn't it fascinating how modernity is in thrall to diversity - of marriage, sexual identity, etc - but shrinks in contempt from the prospect of including the embryo and fetus in the diverse ways of being human? Orwell would have made a lot of hay with "diversity".

HH 02 May 2013

HH, you say: "What the above back-and-forth shows is something not all that surprising: that for all the homage paid to "diversity", in fact no-one on any side of this discussion tolerates parameters of acceptable theological diversity too diverse from their own canon..." I think Andrew wrote the article to show what a Broad Church traditional Catholicism is and to encourage people to realise this. There is a difference between matters that are strictly doctrinal and others which are not. Some people are intellectually unable to grasp this. Many Catholics cling to what I would consider quaint folk beliefs which were never part of the magisterium. If the denomination is to compete for people's very souls with the Evangelicals; Pentecostalists et sim it is absolutely essential that what is put forward as valid Catholic belief is both doctrinally sound and presented in a manner which does not patronise those outside the fold. I dismay at some posts to forums such as this (not yours in this respect) because I think they don't present the truth in a digestible form. Before people - that includes some clergy who do not necessarily have Andrew's intelligence; education or insight - speak on behalf of Catholicism I think they need to think good and hard so that what they present is quite clear. I think there is also a need to avoid emotionalism (not necessarily the same as genuine emotion); patronising and cheap put downs. Enormous effort is required here.

Edward F 03 May 2013

HH's second comment is unfortunately very true. Catholics of both traditionalist and progressive vein appear ever-ready to defend their positions, championing theologians who share, and therefore influence, their perspectives. Both sides probably feel the need to defend because of the threat they see in the alternative viewpoint. Edward F's reading of Andrew that "he was attempting to ... metaphorically pitch a large enough intellectual tent which could contain within it all the acceptable understandings of traditional Catholicism" is an excellent stepping stone toward dropping all defensiveness and striving toward the accommodation of traditional wisdom within the context of today's intellectual culture. In my earlier comment, I referred to the critical necessity of discernment. To discern the dross which tends to hide the wisdom of tradition, and to dampen the excess confidence in much of today's commentary are the real challenges.

Ian Fraser 03 May 2013

Ian Fraser, I think you are definitely on the money with this insight: "In my earlier comment, I referred to the critical necessity of discernment. To discern the dross which tends to hide the wisdom of tradition, and to dampen the excess confidence in much of today's commentary are the real challenges." Discernment is a spiritual gift which is very much based in one's physicality: it relies on intelligence, experience etc. Not all people share it equally. I would contest (and I suspect you would have no argument with me) that the great orthodox theologians: Augustine; Aquinas etc. were gifted by God with the necessary discernment and all its prerequisites, such as intelligence. Intelligence on its own, without discernment, can lead to all sorts of errors if a person is not firmly based in traditional Christian orthodoxy. I am greatly afeared of some commentators outside the Catholic tradition who, often clerics or church people of what they term a "liberal Christian" bent, which, in previous times was known variously as Latitudinarianism (18th Century Anglican England) or Modernism (19th and early 20th Century Western Europe), who, speaking and writing with a spurious authority, presume to tell the Catholic Church what to think and do. What they preach and say is often heretical. They should be avoided like the plague. There were, and, of course, are, Anglicans and others: the late Archbishop Michael Ramsey; Tom Wright formerly Bishop of Durham and the late Archbishop Frank Woods of Melbourne who were and are perfectly orthodox and discerning theologians or biblical critics. People like them need to be respected. We desperately need theologically literate and articulate Catholic bishops, such as Mark Coleridge, current Archbishop of Brisbane, to give us a lead here. This teaching is one of the primary functions of a bishop and should never be submerged by seeing him as merely an ecclesiastical administrator. There is currently a crying need for bishops like him.

Edward F 03 May 2013

As always, a contribution to the ongoing conversations that must happen in the midst of much mush, mush, mush and hoo haa, yet at the end of the day 'by their fruits you shall know them' will always have its defining place.

Paul Goodland 04 May 2013

Thanks Andy, very clear, concise & insightful.

Fr Peter Hendriks msc 06 May 2013

I agree with most of what Father Hamilton has said in this piece. Slogans often reflect a stronger adhesion to a 'party' rather than to the Catholic Church as a whole. The balanced Catholic life is centred on a personal relationship with Christ in the context of one's life within the Catholic community, and lived out in the wider world. In his last sentence Fr Hamilton says: "These attitudes will be expressed naturally in a personal simplicity of life, in an affinity with those deprived and despised in society, and in an engagement with society based in respect and compassion. They will also be reflected in a diversity of theologies, spiritualities and political priorities among Catholics. Evangelical means good news, and good news always makes its hearers more free." This incomplete and makes precisely for the position of the "no party party" with particular emphases all of its own. What I find so challenging about being Catholic is attending to all of the facets of what it means to be Catholic, but keeping my eye on Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of my faith. I can't claim to have got it right. It is still, for me, very much a work in progress. And so it goes. But many thanks to Father Hamilton for his thought-provoking and illuminating article. Much food for thought.

Fr John Irving Fleming 06 May 2013

Andrew I'm not interested in handing on a 'tradition'... I'm interesting in handing on the most amazing gift we could imagine, the ability to relate at a personal level with Jesus Christ. Jesus came - not to establish a 'tradition' - but to tell us that we can be in an intimate relationship with God, through Jesus. The notion of 'cultural catholics' or 'tribal catholicism' is not what Christianity ought to be about - and that is the crux of the New Evangelization. The kind of catholicism I read about here at Eureka Street rarely ever mentions Jesus Christ. It is more a political ideology loosely connected with the ancient ideas of Christianity. Sadly, our Catholic universities lean this way too... try searching for the word "Jesus Christ " or "God" or even "Gospel" at the ACU website ... on any page, you'll be lucky to find it once or twice on the whole website. So we are living in an era where you can be Catholic and be completely disengaged from the person of Jesus Christ. A strange situation.

Kate 06 May 2013

Re what Edward said earlier: " There were, and, of course, are, Anglicans and others: the late Archbishop Michael Ramsey; Tom Wright formerly Bishop of Durham and the late Archbishop Frank Woods of Melbourne who were and are perfectly orthodox and discerning theologians or biblical critics." I am afraid this is totally untrue. Archbishop Ramsey supported and voted for abortion in the House of Lords, To Wright supports women bishops and priests, and so did Frank Woods apart from Woods not believing in angels. Anglican is by definition "not orthodox"! I was once one of these and personally met two of these characters.

Fr John Irving Fleming 06 May 2013

@joe castley: the church is not a social crusader,revolutionary movement, and cannot be reduced to a human right non governmental institution but rather the church is the body of christ. the church forms your conscience and expect you to help form other conscience your friends colleague through your apostolate. Vatican 2 says that the laity is at the forefront of the church missions if you have done this. all those problems you listed will be reduced if not eradicated. The church cannot be divinely instituted and yet be recruiting people for the devil.

Jeffery omorodion 08 May 2013

Objectively, on the intellectual level, diversity is a mark of the Fall. There will be no logical diversity of propositions in Heaven! If to embrace 'theological diversity' is to embrace logically incompatible propositions, that acceptance is a spawn of Adam's sin.

HH 09 May 2013

@patricia r :your statement are calumny no offence guilty of a fallacy called ad hominem the truth which is bitter and most be told is held by the church 1tim 3:15 there is no problem if some disgruntled elements reject the one true church just like the jew rejected christ. And like christ teaching the church teaching becomes hard saying john 6:60. Jesus did not always react to the status quo but rather he fulfilled and is the perfection of the law (jesus kept the passover went to the synagogue) if one feels he is not comfortable with church magisterium the most honourable thing to do is to leave the church and protest from the outside. (just as the jew protested against jesus). But note just like the rich young man they will leave the church. but remain sad.

Jeffery omorodion 09 May 2013

Did Jesus have a theology degree? "I am the Word."

AURELIUS 10 May 2013

HH, the Christian faith is not a rational, objective faith - it is fundamentally and intrinsically subjective. As Kierkegard said, "Christian faith requires that faith persists in the face of the impossible, and that humans have the capacity to simultaneously believe in two contradictory things."

AURELIUS 13 May 2013

Aurelius, poor Kierkegard, a Protestant, is at that point the victim of Protestantism's inner contradictions. There are profound mysteries, but no contradictions, in Catholicism, rooted as it is in the objective reality of God, His creation, and His revelation.

HH 13 May 2013

The contradictions, HH, are that decision-making based on Christian faith often leads to irrational outcomes - ones that cause a negative outcome that leads to suffering) Like concentrating effort of saving the so-called "unsaved" who are theoretically in more need of God's mercy (those on death row)

AURELIUS 14 May 2013

Aurelius: "O my Jesus, forgive us our sins. Save us from the fires of hell. Lead all souls to Heaven, especially those in most need of Thy Mercy." No contradictions. Just the Truth. God bless.

HH 14 May 2013

Yes, HH, and that prayer is dependent on the presence of a priest in the confessional - oh, those Protestants again and their fancy ideas of universal salvation - another convenient slogan dividing Catholic from Protestant values. (I would have thought we'd all be regarded as Protestants these days given the current state of moral decay in organised religion)

AURELIUS 15 May 2013

from 1960 to 1966 I was an undergraduate then medical student and I found great friends and a lively faith community at the Newman Club, University of Minnesota. Now at age 71 I am taking a university course, team taught by academics comitted to seeking and through their gifts of scholarship in their fields and the grace of their baptism are engaged in the MISSION of celebrating and seeking GOD'S life with us. This article and following comments show the SPIRIT seeks us and encourages/graces us with the virtues of Faith, Hope and Love. As I hear at daily mass, "by this mingling of water and wine may we come to have a share in your divinity as you came to share in our humanity". Christ is among us.

Mary Margaret Flynn 17 May 2013

Similar articles

Rudd right not to run

Frank Brennan | 22 March 2013

Some lamented that Rudd had abandoned his own supporters to their fate. But what political morality would dictate that he break his word simply because Crean had decided an immediate challenge was the only available circuit breaker for the woes of a dysfunctional divided Labor Party?

Pope Francis' unfinished business with the poor

Andrew Hamilton | 21 March 2013

The relationship between the Catholic Church and the poor was explored most seriously in Latin America. I caught its dimensions most vividly in a dawn trip on a clapped out US school bus to a small regional town in El Salvador.

The difference one pope can make

Neil Ormerod | 21 March 2013

Pope FrancisThere are 57 cardinals over 72 years of age. If Francis is in office for eight years or more he'll have a direct hand in replacing each of them. Just as John Paul II shaped the college of cardinals for the election of Benedict, so Francis is likely to shape the college for the election of his successor. This is a long term impact.

A funny thing happened on the way to the Vatican

Richard Leonard | 18 March 2013

St Peter's Square at nightFrancis stood there alone for the cruellest time. This is why members of royal families never appear on balconies alone: you can only wave so often. The Latin Americans went nuts. This guy is now the most famous Argentine ever, jumping Che, Evita and Maradona. Like 'Francis', they specialise in one-name handles too, but with friends like that ... 

A Jesuit learns to live with a Jesuit Pope

Andrew Hamilton | 14 March 2013

Pope FrancisI indulge a passing self-congratulatory thought that the Pope is, like me, a Jesuit, and will understand our Jesuit ways. And that the Church, of course, will benefit immeasurably from his Jesuit training. That is immediately followed by a touch of anxiety: perhaps he will understand our ways all too well.