Survival Guide for Thinking Catholics: Ten tips from Tom Reese, S.J.
Not all Catholics agree with the Church all the time, and Tom Reese, S.J., will tell you there is no point in denying it. Questioning is not, however, something most Catholics undertake lightly. These disagreements are often born out of conscience, of genuinely believing in the faith while believing equally something that is at odds with the accepted teachings of the Church.
Reese, the former editor of the Jesuit weekly magazine America, was a visiting scholar at Santa Clara during the 2005-06 academic year. In the Regan lecture delivered on April 26, cosponsored by the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics and the Ignatian Center for Jesuit Education, Reese outlined his strategies for Catholics who think, question, doubt, debate, and disagree. Here are those strategies in a nutshell:
Though much of the attention is on liberal Catholics urging the Vatican to allow female priests or birth control, questioning is hardly limited to one’s political alignment. From condoms to illegal immigration, the Church has taken many unpopular stands. Indeed, it would be hard for any organization with hundreds of millions of constituents in dozens of countries to be universally popular. Additionally, as Reese said, “a questioning mind is fostered by our education and the very culture we live in. It is part of who we are and we cannot run away from it.” That applies to all people, not just Americans, Democrats, reactionaries, or radicals.
Re: Democracy & The Catholic Church
Posted by Jose Gutierrez , Jr.
Date: Sep-28-2006 at 3:45 PM
Our church faces many challenges irregardless of time and opinion. The tradition is understood, but the methods of it being carried out and rationale as to cannon law or doctrinal law seems to be a problem for many Catholics around the world and in particular the United States.
I'm not so sure that democratizing the process will really help. As an example our lack of participation come election time proves that democracy doesn't really promote as much participation as we should have in the United States. Though on the other hand, taking personal responsibility for our community and our willingness to make a difference is what should drive us towards participation in the church or society, whether democratic or not.
I can't stop from thinking, better yet, let me ask the question . . . imagine the church and how she would be if both clergy and laity conversed as true equals?
The discussion would lead to ideas, opinions and perhaps even change. It is this conversation that we seek, that we need, which the soul is in search of, that begs us to explore, leading us to light, to praxis . . . but, why not have our church re-examine certain elements of controversy with us, why the exclusion?
One would think that by now we might have learned something from history and the relationship between "I" and "Thou," but perhaps this isn't the way to spiritual enlightenment or social justice, rather a path to explore the mystery of the faith which is shared by both clergy and laity alike. Therefore, communication is essential, it is vital to the life of the church. It is this communication which she unfortunately seems to lack that frustrates the most.
Not far removed from the Second Vatican Council and already there is, and continues to be, a need for dialogue between the clergy and the laity. Why this doesn't happen I don't know. Perhaps it is there, but not enough.
Hopefully, one day, the conversation will begin and when it does, it will stregthen the message of Jesus and the church . . . it will further shed light on a life lived in love, of faith and hope, of community and family, of potential and growth, of ideas and belief, of life, death and the resurrection, where both the clergy and laity equally form the one body of Christ, not just in words, but in all reality and history.