Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Upon This Rock

Caravaggio's Peter's Crucifixion

The Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith recently issued a document entitled "Responses to Some Questions Regarding Certain Aspects of the Doctrine of the Church." The document occasioned considerable discussion, much of it expressing disappointment, if not irritation.

The document was not soliciting approval; it was restating Catholic doctrine, and there's nothing new in the doctrine it restates. Whether I or anyone else agrees or disagrees with this doctrine is not the issue. I am a son of the Church; had I found the document problematic, I would have started with the assumption that the problem was at my end. But, happily, I concur with both the doctrine and the Congregation's restatement of it. I think there is, however, more that can be said in its defense.

If I think the Church is right about the matter recently addressed by the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith, my Protestant friends may very well not see it that way. Because those friendships are important to me, and because I want the conversations we have had in the past to continue, I have decided to try to explain, in my own terms, why I concur with the Church's position, knowing that many will differ, but hoping we can disagree in a way that moves us closer to the truth we all seek.

Shortly after the Vatican document was released, I put a few thoughts together and then glanced around for a journal where they could be published before the vertiginous news cycle carried public attention to other matters. Finding none, I have decided to put the message in a bottle and toss it into the churning sea of cyberspace, hoping that it will wash ashore where those who might find it useful will discover it. There is a link to the piece below.

If you find the little essay helpful, feel free to forward it to friends and share it in any way that is respectful and considerate of those who may hold differing views.

Here's where you'll find it:

Upon This Rock


Mark Gordon said...

Brilliant, Gil. Thank you.

Athos said...

The best primer in Ecclesiology 101 I've read.

Kevin said...

Mr. Bailie,
Let me say that in your work and Rene' Girard's I have found a far deeper understanding of my faith and how to live it.
That said, I do not see Girardian concepts as leading back to Rome. Indeed I think essays such as this, though well written, are not helpful in promulgating the revelation of the Girardian understanding of the Gospel and culture.
In other words, perhaps it would be better to separate Catholic partizan support from the broader work of the Cornerstone Forum. Such discussions have their place, however if I were to send a fellow Episcopalian towards the website wherein they first encounter pro-Catholic essays they may be turned away form the important message therin.

May your time in Wyoming be fruitful.

Ad Astra Per Aspera,

Allen Johnson said...

In the spirit of your invitation to vigorous, honest ecumenical dialogue, Gil, let me offer this from the late Mennonite theologian, John Howard Yoder, that also strikes deep into the Girardian anthropology of society-forming sacred violence. This from Yoder's "The Priestly Kingdom", 1984, 2001, page 122.

"...there is widespread agreement--once again joining Roman Catholic thinkers with participants in the WCC [World Council of Churches]--that militarism and nationalism conceived in a military tone constitute the fundamental challenge to the unity of the church and of humankind which must be condemned and transcended in our age. A common commitment to bring to bear on the menace of war and tyranny the full critical capacity of the total Christian community would be a path to Christian unity in mission, which would probably be more promising than a resumption of the older patterns of negotiating from the fixed, correct positions of established confessions."

Girard and you both emphasize the critical need in our time of the unraveling of the prop of sacred violence will necessitate that the gospel ethic permeate human hearts and actions to thwart catastrophic globe-threatening violence. Let's unite in following the way of Jesus first and foremost.