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Does Catholic identity matter?


Good SamaritanIn a recent speech given to Australian Catholic students titled 'The Fall of the Christian West', American Cardinal Raymond Burke was concerned with Catholic identity. This issue has also preoccupied Catholic thinkers, institutions, religious congregations and other groups.

Although the topic touches important issues, it is generally unhelpful to make identity the starting point of conversation.

Cardinal Burke defined true Catholic identity by its opposition to secularist societies. These were portrayed negatively by their acceptance of abortion, euthanasia, gay marriage, pornography,  contraception and restrictions on religious expression, and defined by their consistent philosophies.

So when Catholics are influenced by their societies their Catholic identity is eroded. To be a Catholic is defined in terms of beliefs, dispositions and practices that are self consciously orthodox. This will inevitably lead to opposition, to martyrdom of opposition.

The difficulty with preoccupation with Catholic identity is that it stands in such conflict with the central movement of the Gospel expressed, for example, in the story of the Good Samaritan.

In the story, a Jew asks Jesus, 'Who is my neighbour?' His question is about identity, about who belongs to his group. He invites Jesus to mark out the boundaries of faith and practice that separate this group from other groups.

In response Jesus tells a story about a Samaritan, a member of a group from which all Jews would separate themselves. The Samaritan tends to an injured Jew whom Jews with some status in the community pass by, presumably because contact with the bloodied man would have made them ritually impure.

After telling the story, Jesus rephrases the question, asking his questioner who proved a neighbour to the injured man.

The story suggests that the question we begin with should not be about identity but about how we meet the needs of the people who present themselves to us. Identity questions fix our attention on the group to which we belong. The question Jesus asks invites us to look through the eyes of strangers. Only from that perspective can we safely reflect on our group.

This story, which encapsulates Jesus' ethic, suggests that groups inspired by a Christian motivation should always begin by looking outwards to ask who in their world are in need of healing, freedom and love, and asking how we can reach them.

That starting point leads to a different logic than the logic of identity. The conversation will go in three directions. It will lead people to ask how they can best support each other in their faith and in their commitments so that they can continue to give themselves happily and effectively to strangers.

It will also lead them to reflect on their society in concrete terms. They will ask what forces enhance and diminish the freedom and dignity of the people who are bruised. Accordingly, they will naturally build relationships with people and groups that have a different ideology, but whose lives and work reflect a passion for the humanity of the disregarded. These Samaritans will be their natural allies.

They will also reflect on their opponents, some of whom will be fellow Christians, whose actions and policies crush dignity, destroy freedom and treat people as means to selfish and abstract ends.

If Christian groups serve the disregarded effectively, they will certainly be targeted by their opponents. Most will find martyrdom too grandiose a term to describe this common human experience. If they must be called martyrs, they would be happy to accept the traditional appellation of martyrs of charity.

Finally, they will be led to reflect on the reluctance of some of their members to proclaim the Gospel boldly by going out to others. That will make them ask whether those who join the group are motivated by a passion for God and for humanity. It will also raise questions of formation.

But the conversation about formation will start with the leadership of the group. People in positions of leadership are likely to be furthest removed from immediate contact with those in need and so from the opportunity to proclaim the Gospel. They will need most formation. What they learn from this formation will help them encourage in younger members the passion for the Gospel that led them to join the group.

This kind of reflection that begins with the Good Samaritan story no doubt leaves many questions unanswered. But it has one virtue that is often lacking in conversation that focuses on identity. At each step it asks insistently: what ultimately matters? 

Andrew HamiltonAndrew Hamilton is consulting editor of Eureka Street

Topic tags: Cardinal Raymond Burke, The Fall of the Christian West, good samaritan, gospels, jesus



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Existing comments

Your observation,..'People in positions of leadership are likely to be furthest removed from immediate contact with those in need and so from the opportunity to proclaim the Gospel. ' says it all. Bravo

graham patison | 31 March 2011  

"They will need most formation...(that) will help them encourage...passion for the Gospel" and "...it asks insistently: what ultimately matters?" - Amen!

Richard | 31 March 2011  

Thank you Andrew. As you so often do you put your finger on the nub of the issue. The paradox is that the more we reach out to others, entering their experience, trying to see things from their perspective, the deeper we discover our Catholicity to be. This constant definition of yourself 'over and against' others, specifically secular society, - as seems to be the approach of Cardinal Burke - the less truly Catholic you become. Sad!

Paul Collins | 31 March 2011  

Shouldn't our concern be with being Christian rather than Catholic ? Jesus is a Jew, he proclaims the Christian way : would he care about the "Catholic" brand ??

Josie Gregory | 31 March 2011  

Yes, like Josie I have trouble with the "Catholic" brand and I rather see myself as part of a "community of God seekers -in all religions as well as outside of them." The Faith of a Thomas Believer (the source I have lost)

Kevin | 31 March 2011  

That reflection alone is a very powerful justification for the existence of Eureka Street.

jl trew | 31 March 2011  

This Catholic identity stuff is a bit like putting on your best coat to hide what's underneath. So much of the time we do not feel like marching to the tune of glory might and right. We struggle along with the rest of humanity trying to make sense of our lives. We hope the tiny brilliant little spark of God within us wont desert us so that we can contribute to hope in our world.

The Catholic identity stuff is marvellous when you are winning but not much good in our darkest hours. It's then we need a profound generous and loving God who does not care about your outward coat.

Anne | 31 March 2011  

A very insightful article from Andrew. There does seem to be currently a great preoccupation with Catholic identity.

Should not the starting point be to identify what it is to be truly human, building on that what it is to be truly Christian, and finally asking what particular gifts we have as Catholics to bring to the conversation table. The answers to that will be many and varied

Barry Hughes, Albion | 31 March 2011  

Andrew: It is timely that someone has put some reflection on what has become a sub text in much secular and ecclesiastical conservative rhetoric of late namely, martyrdom. I share your belief that the people who are using this language are predominantly in leadership and that they are displaying a high level of self interest, institutional defensiveness and introspection. The siege mentality is very effective in creating guilt, hysteria and other forms of self loathing.

I find much of what Cardinal Burke had to say as sharing sentiments echoed this morning on Glenn Beck, the eccentric spokesman for the neo conservative American Remnant of the Faithful. He quoted William B. Travis' 'Remember the Alamo' letter: "I am besieged..... Victory or death! P.S. The Lord is on our side."
There is a disturbing pattern here I believe.

David Timbs | 31 March 2011  

The road to Jericho remains a dangerous and messy place to travel. You never know who you might meet down there, Catholics, Anglicans, Muslims, Jews, Philistines, Yahoos, Bogans, anyone in particular. The word ‘Christian’ is certainly one of the most complex in the language. Although we are told that anyone can be a Christian and no one is born a Christian, in fact can anyone be a Christian, at all?

To read the story of the Good Samaritan an essential part of the message is that it’s about doing, not about just saying who you are, or standing there being one, or passing by on the other side.. When I look at many of the people who call themselves Christians I think to myself, I don't want to be a Christian if it means being like that. Which is why I understand non-Christians who play the marvellous Jesus game of pointing out the hypocrisy and contradictoriness of many Christians.

Mind you, some of those same critics of so-called Christians have train-sleepers in their own eye compared with the fleck of dust in their opponents’ eye. When I read Gospel it seems that to be Christian means doing and becoming and continuing and accepting mistakes and solving things and keeping on going. It’s a complete life process. It’s about loving without conditions, enemies included. Sometimes I tend to agree with those who say no one can ever be a Christian, you can only try to become more like what is enunciated in the Gospel. Then when you throw in words like ‘Catholic’ things start getting very interesting indeed. I myself still don’t know exactly what I would do on the road to Jericho, but I know the answer to the question put by Jesus. Everyone knows the answer, they know it already.

Desiderius Erasmus | 31 March 2011  

TOPS! was it meant to be a mld criticism on the somewhat one sided remarks of cardinal Burke?? It is difficult to keep the balance between being on of Jesus' community and be open to those who are not in His community!

Theo Verbeek | 31 March 2011  

A marvellous reflection. However, probably not even Cardinal Burke can be 100% wrong. I think neo-conservative Catholic discourse does challenge us to think about who will be left to propose, reflect, and act on the Christian values which Andrew expresses if our "identity", for want of a better word, is lost.

The community which has handed on the Good Samaritan story to us is disintegrating in quite serious ways in this country and others like it.

If a community has no "identity", who will join it, and how will it survive? Where will the story of the Good Samaritan be told? The church cannot be an exclusive club united by its hatreds (secularism, abortion, &c.), but surely it cannot "always begin by looking outwards" either. A motivation for doing so must come first. "Repent and believe the good news" is Jesus' first word, even before "Love one another". Where will it be heard?

Michael | 31 March 2011  

Jesus identity was integral to his death[salvator mundi]-as it is with martyrs [both red and white]-and what is wrong with identity including 'sign of contradiction'?

FATHER JOHN GEORGE | 31 March 2011  

A friend wrote to me about this article:

To be "furthest removed from...those in need" is echoed by the article from the Harvard Business School that I thought was interesting:

The "Luxury Prime": How Luxury Changes People

Eureka Street might consider seeking to reprint this article from Harvard Business School?

JOHN KENNEDY | 31 March 2011  

I agree with Michael in saying that we can't always begin by looking outwards. In fact I think it always starts from within, from hearts attuned to the words of Jesus. This is not just an individual matter. Christians are nurtured by their being part of an identifiable group, by their sharing Eucharists together. sharing a faith and a system of values inspired by Jesus. To be sure a vital part of this faith and these values must motivate us to reach out to others. But it is the degree to which we adhere to that faith and those values which gives us our identity as a group.

But I agree that identity is secondary to and dependent on our faith and values.

Tony Santospirto | 31 March 2011  

Andrew. Congratulations and thank you. The insights in this article are truly profound !
Some so called church leaders, it seems, not only don't know the answers ... they actually don't know the real questions !

David Walsh | 31 March 2011  

That a topic as broad, and one might say presumptive, as "The Fall of the Christian West" should end up being particularised in the question "Does Catholic identity matter?" is indeed a wonderful thing. This is some of the best commentary I have read in Eureka Street. Father Hamilton is to be congratulated in steering the conversation in a more positive direction.

What interests me about the story of the Good Samaritan is that there are two neighbours - the anonymous man who was beaten up by robbers and the anonymous Samaritan who came to his aid. In the words of the show-off lawyer, who couldn't bring himself to say "The Samaritan", "he was the one who showed pity".
It is easy to see the spirit of Jesus in the Samaritan's actions. He is a fine example for us all.

is not so easy to see Jesus in the victim, the Son of God who came down from Heaven (Jerusalem), was battered and bruised by the Romans and others, and ignored by the Jewish religious leaders. Christ identifies with the despised and suffering of this world. That is the identity we Catholics would do well to embrace.

Uncle Pat | 31 March 2011  

I am not as effusive in my praise of Fr Hamilton as others. I think that his article has some worthy insights. However, I think his concluding remarks about those in positions of leadership are both mildly patronising and arrogant. Who is Fr Hamilton to say that those in Church administration are not meeting "people in need"? Who are these "people in need" that seldom cross paths with the Church's leaders? And I would not be so presumptuous as to think that Church leaders need to sit at my feet so that I can straighten out their deficient formation.

I have not yet read Cardinal Burke's speech. I have downloaded it from the link that Fr Hamilton provided. I did read an article about him in The Australian. I may be finding common ground with Fr George. The Cardinal seemed to be saying plainly that the Catholic Church forbids things, things that are harmful to our own and others' humanity. Perhaps the Cardinal thinks that things like abortion, euthanasia, pornography, etc "crush dignity, destroy freedom and treat people as means to selfish and abstract ends."

John Ryan | 01 April 2011  

Thank you for the discussion provoked by my article. A couple of clarifications.

I do think that questions grouped in the box of identity are important - including Catholic identity, Christian identity and all our group identities. But I don't think they are good starting points for reflection on our predicaments.

I used Cardinal George's talk as a good example of a particular focus on identity. I was not particularly concerned to criticise his speech which presumably was written for a particular context. I was more concerned with smaller Catholic and other Christian organisations which adopted this focus on identity as a starting point for reflecting on themselves. And it seems simply a fact that groups concerned with face to face engagement with those in need will necessarily develop patterns of leadership where leaders are to some extent separated from the opportunity to proclaim the Gospel directly in this face to face way. Most complain about the fact.

Having and nurturing faith are essential, of course, when people come together in Christian groups. But they come together to proclaim the Gospel, not to hoard it or protect it or use it as a weapon against others. So it is best to begin with the outwards movement, and then to ask about the inward conditions for this to take place.

andy Hamilton | 01 April 2011  

As ever Andy an insightful, sensitive reflection on a question pre-occupying many of us and a reminder that the object of our concern must always be those we serve, rather than ourselves.

"The story suggests that the question we begin with should not be about identity but about how we meet the needs of the people who present themselves to us."

Thank you for this most timely and welcome reflection.

Marcelle | 01 April 2011  

A]following upon fr Hamilton's gratuitous parameters of identity with equal gratuitousness I uphold the identity of being a papist roman catholic to the back teeth and such is not per se an impediment to outreach[nb massive rc institution involvement with world tragedies;also social and health services provided by the rcc globally-none of which is an impediment to dialogue and communication outreach-identity probs are too easily concocted in rarefied ethos of ivory tower agendas[with axes to grind?]

FATHER JOHN GEORGE | 01 April 2011  

I did follow the link to the speech but didn't get very far ... it's absolutely hopeless. All this reminds me of a topic in the news - the N.S.W. ALP! The cardinal's speech is exactly why so many of we raised-as-Catholics couldn't wait to say goodbye to the Church when we left school: the Church has lost the message it was meant to carry, it doesn't act like a Christian organisation. Andrew Hamilton knows exactly what the message should be.

Russell | 01 April 2011  

Knowing Andrew, I was sure his comments were not intended to appear hurtful, re leadership people being the furthest removed from those in need, and I appreciate his clarification. For persons like Provincials and Bishops, every required hour in the office, or driving a few hundred kms, is literally time away from immediate contact with those most in need, but should be geared towards such service. Comments such as those of DT and GP and Richard reveal a contented belief in negative caricatures. (I can assure them I will wonder, without any smugness I pray, about leadership position distance next Monday in the Riverland talking with a local group re loss of morale and rural suicide, or on Wednesday all day in Port Augusta Prison.) Catholic identity questions are important ones (as Andrew acknowledges), and especially when dealing with little country Catholic schools where perhaps the Catholic student population is 25% and only two of seven teachers are Mass-goers. It is vital to discuss Catholic identity re ethos and mission in such circumstances, not to bewail the situation but to encourage and help all concerned to strive for such an ethos and identity, to help keep the school true to its mission and purpose. Buddhist and Marxist schools and hospitals also commit to the poor, so who we are and why we do it can be a good opening question..

gregory o'kelly | 01 April 2011  

There are many ways of performing a good Samaritan act,one of which is Cardinal Burke's,in seeking to remove that blindfold which is causing the West to march relentlessly to it's unseen collapse. This does not mean that he is mindless of people suffering in other ways.

Hugh Ivens | 01 April 2011  

GREG O'K may like to locate marxist hospital-i will avoid it methinks! marxism has a v bad track record in outreach to poor cf stalinist russia starvations

FATHER JOHN GEORGE | 01 April 2011  

Cardinal Burke's discourse is not dissimilar to that of many of our senior prelates: there's a global trend, since Pope Benedict's accession, to appeal to a medieval European cultural modality in constructing a partcular kind of Catholic identity, while containing alternatives.

This dismisses complex global history and praxis, particularly in terms of where the bulk of Catholics now live, the pivotal importance of culture in bringing faith to life (or is it the other way around?) and all too easily topples the Samaritan Story from it paramountcy in missiology.

Granted that many Western Catholics, and especially leaders, are too easily weighed down by sub fusc, Andrew has done them and us an immense favour in reprising another way.

My own concern was for Cardinal Burke's audience: young, impressionable and the evident target of a global reactionary Catholic restorationist project.

Given that the most successful Church agencies in Australia are our schools, it is disturbing as well as an opportunity that the politics of Catholic identity are regarded by many in them as a device to pull them into line.

BTW, gracious of Andy to give John George the red hat! :)

Michael | 02 April 2011  

i]Michaels pottage of buzz words hides foreboding angst that young people are vulnerable to Roman Catholic Teaching and worse 'praxis' aided and abetted by prelates[incl 'cdl jg']
ii[ Michaels ground plan is to face off 'medieval modality' with 'global praxis' and 'missiological paramountcy'
iii]those parables are getting complexer and complexer][even good samaritan would be gobsmacked by michaels neologistic hermeneutic

FATHER JOHN GEORGE | 02 April 2011  

I think Andy should withdraw his miserly offer of a red hat. Evidently nothing short of a triple tiara will suffice, given the barrage of ex-cathedra fervorinos, 'catholica-apologetica' and other braggadocio of cult-Catholicism on offer from the cardinal-elect.

Michael | 02 April 2011  

My buzz words allude to ways in which a status quo is legitimised by closed discourse, which I have submitted to standard literary criticism, showing how this happens by hierarchical diktat through a speech by a leading cleric.

Fundamentalists argue that a lived authenticity to gospel values as interpreted in the light of culture (as against firm rules for all times) is bad ecclesiology.

For them martyrdom is the only option, which, given the history of medieval European crusades, subsequently revealed as narrow and bloodthirsty, sounds like jihad.

Closed discourse resuscitates a failed ecclesiology, one that applauds only clericalism and lay obedience.

Fr George uses exactly the same sort of language and capitulates to the same dynamic that reinforces closed discourse. It is important, not just morally but intellectually and theologically, to expose its faultlines, as Andrew has done.

Without that, not only are genuine alternatives crushed, but theology is debased, and we resort to the same old conjuring tricks that simply haven’t worked.

Thus church unity and practice are held up as ideal, while roadblocks, in the form of top-down ecclesiology, are placed in the way of Kingdom values.

Language currently provides the only key to understanding this mistake.

Michael | 03 April 2011  

I found this illuminating.
I have at times pondered the way in which Catholic commentators frame critiques of society. Some are very successful (Archbishop Coleridge springs to mind) whereas others appear judgmental and seem to lack compassion or sensitivity.

I hold that it is possible to be 'in the world, yet not of the world'. Espousing Catholic positions on issues should not prevent me from relating to others whose ideology conflicts with mine. I like the words of St Francis of Assisi: 'Preach the Gospel at all times, and when necessary use words.'

MBG | 03 April 2011  

In michael's conclave all are elected infallible popes provided they drop 30 pieces into coffers of dissent

FATHER JOHN GEORGE | 03 April 2011  

I find this article rather confusing. Identity is not the "starting point of conversation", says Fr H. But then, directing us to the parable of the Good Samaritan - presumably to find a better "starting point" - he makes three inferences. The first is that this parable "will lead people to ask how they can best support each other in their faith and in their commitments". I agree with this most strongly. Faith. Commitment. I'm a simple man, but ... isn't that what Cardinal Burke - God bless him - was on about? How can we "support" the faith and commitment of another if either we don't know what it is, or it's one which we do not share (e.g. a "pro-choice" commitment)? For my money, Cardinal Burke exemplifies the Good Samaritan. He knows what ails the afflicted: the flesh, the world or the devil. He knows how to bind his wounds: the sacraments. And he knows the Inn to which the poor man is to be taken: Holy Church. His Eminence also exemplifies the Good Shepherd, who can tell the dissembling wolves from the flock.

HH | 03 April 2011  

I agree with Josie. I believe we are Christians first.

Unfortunately, the Catholic brand is seen as more interested in power and cover up.

Chris P | 04 April 2011  

The Good Samaritan Parable, like the Judas accusation hurled at me, IS complex and much deconstructed by hermeneutical scholars.

It communicates more than arbitrary allegorical references to Christ and His Church or platitudes about neighbourliness.

Barth constructs it as God's accomplishment through Jesus's role in the reversal of the human condition.

Distinctions between Jew and Gentile, male and female, poor and rich, black and white, straight and gay, esteemed and despised, are continually blurred by His actions.

For those who could not read or who did not know the Samaritans, this aspect of the parable became less and less discernible.

Fewer people ever heard of them in any context other than as a description of Christ’s admonition to non-believers to convert and follow His Church.

Thus, cast appropriately, the parable regains its contemporary appeal, viz., that an individual of a social group they disapprove of can exhibit moral behavior that is superior to individuals of the groups to which they belong.

Many Christians and others (e.g. Gandhi), have used it as an example of Christianity's opposition to racial, ethnic, gendered and sectarian prejudice.

It doesn’t take the magisterium to distort this. However, an intransigent fundamentalist can wreak havoc with it.

Michael Furtado | 04 April 2011  

so let me get this straight michael furtado: i]the catholic magisterium has screwed up the good samaritan parable[redeemed by Barth and ghandi not forgetting furtado ii] your mention of 'fewer' and 'many people' bespeaks scientific survey on parable-do link us to this opulent research that we may also learn [including raw data and dependent and independent variables and bias controls iii][in between time i am following rcc magisterium versus 3 amigos furtardo-barth and ghandi[if thats ok by you?] iv]frankly you are making a Sinai out of a compost heap By the way be wary of deconstruction workers and their hidden agendas

FATHER JOHN GEORGE | 04 April 2011  

Yes, Catholic identity matters in both the way you and Cardinal Burke mention. It is about telling people you are a witness to Christ. Question - would Jesus not claim his identity as a Jew? as Son of God? Why should we not claim him by saying yes, I'm Catholic as well as the doing?

Mary | 04 April 2011  

Q/Why should we not claim him by saying yes, I'm Catholic as well as the doing?
Mary call yourself 'Hari Krishna' or 'Ebeneezer Baptist' but never ever utter 'Catholic' let alone 'Roman' Catholic[ugh!]

FATHER JOHN GEORGE | 05 April 2011  

Fr Andrew’s sentence The difficulty with preoccupation with Catholic identity is that it stands in such conflict with the central movement of the Gospel expressed ...in the story of the Good Samaritan.” lies at the heart of today’s infra-ecclesiological struggle(s) between “restorationists” and “devolutionists”. What’s sought to be “restored” or “devolved” is the Church’s self-conception as primarily - and essentially - a visible militancy mirroring nature in its hierarchical, organisational structure/strategy. This self-conception has largely locked the Church into a precedent-burdened dynamism that’s antithetical and hostile to notions of continuing theological evolution and criticism of itself. Reformations and “heresies” have often relocated this “visibility” or rejected it entirely. Some might disagree the Good Samaritan story expresses the central Gospel theme or else think it’s inseparable from action of the official Church. We all use “self-identity” as a means of affirmation, reassurance and making experience and concepts intelligible, but making identity-as-a-Catholic the starting/defining points of religious living - which underlies approaches like Cardinal Burke’s - often results in the removal of Good Samaritan Christianity from a person’s psyche. The first “Christians” did not call themselves Catholic; it’s highly questionable whether their conception of themselves as a group resembled the modern tribal branding the term has become. Perhaps Catholic identity can only be attained at the expense of identity as a Christian.

Stephen Kellett | 05 April 2011  

Unfortunately, there wont be a synthesis resulting from the views expressed here (including pleas that this should happen) so long one side is committed to the pursuit of vanquishing the other.

Andrew Hamilton's is evidently not a reflection about what constitutes Catholic identity or not but about being open to an oeuvre that the Good Samaritan parable itself illuminates, and which provides an excellent starting point for identifying the faith values, especially of personal conversion (an ongoing process, surely), love, justice, hope and peace that the message of Christ extols in every age.

That these do change in response to cultural context, as prefigured by Vatican II (Lumen Gentium and Gaudium et Spes, as defended below by the Pope) is deeply disturbing for those who regard the Church as absolutist and unilateral and who position obedience against conscience and free-will, rather than part and parcel of the same complex and changing moral and faith make-up of each human person.

"The Council Fathers meant to say that the being of the Church as such is a broader entity than the Roman Catholic Church, but within the latter it acquires, in an incomparable way, the character of a true and proper subject."

M. Furtado | 06 April 2011  

What Michael says - that Andrew’s point is about being open to the lifelong process of conversion (through acts of love and justice and peace) - and not worrying about identity, makes sense to me. What it means is that any identity is the fruit of our actions, not their source. So rather than asking a question ‘Where does Catholic identity lie that I might act in the spirit of the Gospel?’ we might more profitably declare a commitment ‘Let me continually show love and bring justice.’ The Gospel - and identity - will then happen as they will.

It may even be that identity is not something we can claim - or ought to seek to claim - for ourselves, but something left to the judgment of others. Though it would still be important to ask oneself ‘How may I learn love and justice?’ a question like ‘Does Catholic identity matter?’ begins to look like a mouse at a cats’ convention: in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Stephen Kellett | 06 April 2011  

SO ACCORDING TO THE CATHOLIC PRAXISTS SWARMING THE BOARD-religious identity comes down to good action thereby eliminating verbal proclamation of catholic faith: 1.forget new mass translation leave out creeds etc-action only[more collections?] 2. burn scriptures-they are words! 3. jesus should have stuck to healing miracles and not used words in his mission identification 4 jesus exhortation to his early 'non catholic' christians to teach all nations meant to open doctrine lite Vincent de Paul shops-no identifying doctrinal words 5 in short all Jesus words were a waste of time[including good samaritan parable;actions alone are only needed for identity 6 and then there were all those useless identity words -EG"I and the Father are one" -Jesus even demanded identification proclamation["whom do you say i am? -'i am who am" etc etc etc [all a waste of time says 'Andy and the pragmatists'[SAMARITAN POP BAND] 7.and the 16 docs of vatican 2 especially lumen gentium identifying the catholic church were mere 'talk fests'' by 'bad seated inactive Samaritans' with crosiers [fair go guys proclaim your roman catholic faith from the roof tops and stop the poppycock]

FATHER JOHN GEORGE | 06 April 2011  

the penchant for activism while minimising catholic doctrine is cold curry Americanism and heresy of activism condemned by 19th century pope Leo xiii eg in 'testem benevolentiae'

activism is well described as
"Preoccupation with activity instead of mental reflection."

As a philosophical theory, it emphasizes the active character of the mind. The principal value of thinking is to serve man and society outside the mind. Activism is part of the philosophy of Marxism-Leninism, which holds that the main purpose of thought is not to discover and contemplate the truth but to change reality, especially social reality, in the world. "

FATHER JOHN GEORGE | 06 April 2011  

Cardinal Burke and Andy have set the twin themes informing major questions that will need to be asked in any research project about Catholic identity. The issue should be about how the Church can keep faith with the Gospels in light of major developments in Australian identity in postmodernity. This will require a focus on diversity, hybridity and globalisation and critically employ a cultural studies lens to reflect on the theological, spiritual, moral, intellectual, curricular and pedagogical aspects worth conserving and promoting in Twenty-First Century Australian Catholic schools. Such twin discourses, including the contributions of several in this column, provide the Church and Catholic Education with much to reflect on and constitute a major service by ES, as the ACU proceeds to fill a chair in Catholic Identity at this time. Many benefits attend decisions of this nature because of their being assisted by public discourse and one wishes those entrusted with this task every blessing and success in their crucial undertaking. A sign of hope: Leo XIII, singled out here for his 'anti-activism', lifted the ban on Catholic participation in political parties, was the progenitor of Catholic Social Teaching and singularly responsible for resuscitating scripture scholarship within contemporary Catholicism.

Michael Furtado | 08 April 2011  

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