Friday, June 02, 2006

Refusing to fear

In this essay, Seeking unity: Overcoming discord in the church, Father Timothy Radcliffe op, formerly Master General of the Dominicans, seeks to reconcile that internecine warfare that currently mars the holy Church.

Here's an excerpt:

First of all we have to stop being afraid of each other. Our home in the church seems threatened. It is neither the people of God on pilgrimage to the Kingdom, of which some Catholics dream, nor is it anymore the solid institution for which others hope. And we see other Catholics as menacing our home. For some Catholics any mention of Opus Dei, or Mother Angelica or the Legionaries of Christ produces a frisson of horror. The sight of a deep clerical collar and a biretta can make one panic. (I had thought of wearing a biretta for these lectures, just to see the reactions!) These are just the sort of people who are seen as turning the church around, undermining our dreams of renewal. To those of you who feel that I say: Do not be afraid. God has promised the Kingdom. We are on the way there. We do not know how or when it will come, but one day all injustice and oppression will be ended and we shall rejoice in the perfect freedom of Christ. We will reach the home for which we long, even though every bishop in the world belonged to Opus Dei.

Communion Catholics can also be free of all fear. They may see menace in every liberated feminist nun, in every bearded and sandaled priest. A copy of the National Catholic Reporter brings on the trembles. When I was a young and longhaired priest in my late 20s, I remember being scornfully told by a grand woman: “You do not look like a priest.” To which I could only reply, “Which particular priest don’t I look like?” But to those Catholics, we too can say: Do not be afraid. The church is not about to crumble. Even though every bishop in the world was a hippie, the church will survive. Forty years after the Council of Nicea in the fourth century most of the bishops were Arian, but the church did not collapse. Jesus said to Peter, “Thou art Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it.” To see one’s fellow Catholics, whether of the so-called left or right, as an ultimate threat to one’s home is a failure of faith.



Terrence Berres said...

On the contrary, where would we be without the November 8, 1968 editorial in National Catholic Reporter brushing off Bishop Charles H. Helmsing's official condemnation of it.

Taz_Cat said...

Thanks for that post, there were some good points in the lecture.