Sunday, January 28, 2007

The Scylla and Charybdis

In a post on the Mirror of Justice weblog, Rick Garnett, who teaches at Notre Dame Law School, quoted this passage from a recent column by Chicago Cardinal George.
. . . There are many good people whose path to holiness is shaped by religious individualism and private interpretation of what God has revealed. They are, however, called Protestants. When an informed and committed group of Catholics, such as the Archdiocesan Pastoral Council, comes up with an agenda for discussion that is, historically, Protestant, an important point is being made. Catholics assimilated to American culture, which is historically Protestant, are now living with great tension between how their culture shapes them and what their Catholic faith tells them to hold.

. . . The Second Vatican Council wasn’t called to turn Catholics into Protestants. It was called to ask God to bring all Christ’s followers into unity of faith so that the world would believe who Christ is and live with him in his Body, the Church. . . .

. . . What seems clear to me is that God is calling us to be authentically Catholic in our faith and also, perhaps paradoxically, Protestant in our culture. We live where we are, not in some ideal world where everything works smoothly. Those who withdraw into sectarian enclaves, even in the name of orthodoxy but without respect for or obedience to the mediators called bishops, are simply repeating the Protestant Reformation with Catholic tags. The one thing necessary is to live with discerning hearts and minds. We need to keep asking ourselves what is influencing our ways of thought, our decisions, our feelings and affections. A life of constant discernment is not always easy, but it’s joyful because it means living with the Holy Spirit, whose presence brings truth and consolation and unity. . . .
Professor Garnett then adds this:
This is interesting, and not just for its possible relevance to "Evangelicals and Catholics Together" projects (about which I am very enthusiastic). Cardinal George seems to be warning about both (a) a tendency to retreat, perhaps smugly, into self-styled "orthodox" enclaves, and (b) the confusion of "renewal" with individualism.
I, too, am very enthusiastic about "Evangelicals and Catholics Together," and clarifications like the one that Cardinal George made in his column are a most welcome contribution to it, as is the attention Professor Garnett has called to it and his succinct summary of it.

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