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Liberal Catholics Urged to "Keep" the Faith

This has to be one of the more ironic subtitles to an article. Isn't the whole point of being a "liberal" Catholic is that you don't want to "keep" the faith, but change it to fit your liking? What exactly is being "kept?" It's like that Voice of the Faithful slogan: "Keep the Faith, Change the Church." So what is "the faith?" It must be that amorphous "spirit of Vatican II" that keeps haunting us, like a "ghoul in a late night horror film." (law junkies will get that last reference).

The point of the article amid all of the gnashing of teeth about the crushing of dissent: just be patient folks, change will come.

I'd also like to see if the woman who was told she couldn't receive communion for having a John Kerry sticker on her car was actually done so by a clergyman. In Boston? Give me a break.

This just seems another of the litany of articles that are appearing demonstrating nothing more than liberal hysteria at the continued reception of contraception and women's ordination. Both things that most assuredly will not change.

Oh, and I am completely annoyed at how folks (like Tim Russert on Meet the Press a few Sundays back) keep trying to use the "no salvation outside the Church" club against those who say that church teachings on women's ordination and contraception won't change. The fact is, the Church still believes there is "no salvation outside the Church." However, our understanding of the concept of the Church has grown and developed. Just as the document "Dominus Iesus" made abundantly clear that no one gains salvation except through the unicity of the work of Jesus Christ, whether they are Catholic, Protestant, Buddhist, Muslim, Atheist. By necessity then, no one gains salvation except through the Church, the mystical body of Christ. That mystical body "subsists in" the institutional boundaries of the universal Catholic Church. Thus we know for sure that some people are "in" the Church, because it is made present most fully by the Catholic Church. But we don't know how far the "boundaries" of the mystical body extend. Protestants too? Which ones? Abrahamic faiths? People of good will? If people are "saved" it is because they are grafted onto the vine, the mystical body. Thus, there really is no salavation "outside" the Church. We definitely know that some people are "within" the Church (Catholics, presumably), but we don't know who is not, so we leave open the possibility that other folks will be "saved." This has strong biblical precedent as Jesus's salvific work continued to manifest itself outside the institutional "boundaries" of the historic People of God (Israel). It seems likely that God is also working outside the institutional boundaries of the New israel, the new People of God -- the Catholic Church, especially when we consider our Jewish and Protestant brethren.

Let's all do what we can to clarify this point as it continues to come up. If you've got a bone to pick with the way I've laid out the issue, drop it in the comments.

Here is the article from the Boston Globe:

Panel debates future of Catholic Church
Liberals urged to keep faith
By Rich Barlow  |  April 30, 2005
Should liberal Catholics, chilled by conservative currents in their church, leave for more congenial theological waters?
‘‘For me, it is maybe getting much harder than it has been’’ to be Catholic, given the church’s views on women and gays, said Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza, a professor at Harvard Divinity School.
Catherine Mooney, a historian at Weston Jesuit School of Theology, countered that people should not allow those they disagree with to drive them out of a group.
To be or not to be Catholic? This fundamental question was the one point of disagreement dividing an otherwise agreeable panel at Harvard Divinity on Monday that offered ‘‘Thoughts on the Future of the Catholic Church.’’
The panel’s timeliness was unplanned; it was scheduled before the election of Pope Benedict XVI just a week earlier.
Though he was mentioned only intermittently, the new pope and his theology were the spiritual brackets around the discussion.
The four panelists hinted at or explicitly stated reservations about his enforcement of conservative orthodoxy when, as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, he ran the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
For the record, the panel did not include any Africans, Latin Americans, or Asians, people from places that increasingly are the face of Catholicism. Many Catholics in those areas tend to be more conservative and might have offered a more welcoming take on the new pope.
Mooney noted that the Vatican official who announced the new pope to the world did so in a string of European languages. ‘‘If I were that guy,’’ she said, ‘‘I would have memorized some African language, if I didn’t know it already.’’
Fiorenza told the audience of almost 100 that a Catholic woman she knew had been told last year she could not receive Communion because she had a sticker on her car supporting US Senator John F. Kerry for president.
During the campaign, a handful of US bishops said they would deny the sacrament to Kerry because he supports abortion rights.
To which another panelist, the Rev. J. Bryan Hehir, a professor at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, replied, ‘‘If someone tells someone they can’t go to Communion because they have a sticker on their car, then what’s needed is just elementary catechesis.’’
The subject of the Vatican disciplining theologians who question its teachings drew quite a bit of attention from the panel of academicians.
The problem is so severe, Fiorenza said, that a professor at Cambridge’s Episcopal Divinity School once told her that in the future, ‘‘good Catholic theology will be done ..... at non-Catholic institutions.’’
When the panelists took questions from the audience, one woman said she had left the church after being warned that her academic career would find no harbor at Catholic schools because of her research into gay marriage.
That brought a demurral from one panelist. ‘‘I would not be totally pessimistic,’’ advised the Rev. Francis X. Clooney, a Jesuit priest and professor at Boston College. ‘‘I think there are Catholic places that would hire you.’’
Clooney, who is to join Harvard Divinity’s faculty this fall, has been at BC for 21 years, ‘‘and I can write the things I want.’’
He put himself squarely in the corner of those who call for aggressive questioning of the church’s hierarchy, while remaining loyal to Catholicism.
He urged Catholics to adopt the attitude, ‘‘This is my church, I love it, and I’m not leaving it.’’
Agreed Mooney, ‘‘Some people are chagrined at the recent appointment of Cardinal Ratzinger ..... but I would wish that people would stay the course and express their dissent responsibly.’’
‘‘Doctrines do change, not willy-nilly,’’ she said. ‘‘We can’t just make it up according to our own whims.’’
The Fourth Lateran Council in 1215 said there was no salvation outside the church, she noted, whereas the Second Vatican Council from 1962 to 1965 embraced the notion that there were truths to be found in other faiths.
Of course, to the students in the audience, a 750-year wait for change probably seemed a little daunting.
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