“Moving beyond the Church, even beyond Jesus.” Those words are used in the title of an article in the California Catholic Daily. They are attributed to a speaker at the Leadership Conference of Religious Women. Statements such as these have triggered an investigation by Cardinal Levada of the Sacred Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith (formerly known as The Holy Office of the Roman Inquisition). For the full story please read:
Reading those words “Moving beyond the Church, even beyond Jesus” seem on one level as abandonment of the Church and of Christ. Yet, before reaching for your pitchforks and torches it might be good to remember that the late John Paul II was similarly criticized in 1986 when he convened an International Day of Prayer at Assisi.
At the time, the late pontiff was accused of opening the door to religious relativism. Inviting individuals such as the Dalai Lama, who is also inconveniently addressed as “your holiness,” was just too bitter a pill for many in the Church to swallow. Obviously, John Paul II was not abandoning the Church or Christ. He was merely acting on the belief expressed at the Second Vatican Council that truth resides in every religion.
Spiritual growth and an aperture towards greater holiness necessitates, as does all learning, a modicum of humility. Namely, that we do not possess all the answers, we do not know all of the truth, nor do we understand fully the little, which we presently know. The understanding of the truth about God is different and fuller within the Catholic Church of 2009 than in the Church of 1909, 1509, 1009, 509 or 9. God is still working with us both collectively and as individuals.
To say that a community is “Post Christian” sounds like Christ has been jettisoned; however, I remember a professor at seminary using that very same expression to describe this age. We no longer live in medieval times. The twentieth century was arguably the most secular century in human history. In this sense, we are all Post Christian.
The sisters have merely suggested that opening themselves to the rest of humanity and learning from their spiritual traditions enriches us all. That in no way constitutes a betrayal of Christ or an abandonment of the Church. It is quite arguably precisely what Jesus would want us to do, at least if you read the accounts of his reaching out to the Samaritan communities in the Gospel. It should come as little surprise that this will be badly received by those in positions of religious authority today, the religious authorities of 2,000 years ago were equally upset.
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