Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Can't we all just get along?

A comment from Kristin (thanks, by the way, for your frequent and thoughtful comments) deserves, well, comment:

"Did you read Fr. Ronald Rolheiser's (your colleague over at US Catholic) article "Knock it off" regarding the vices and virtues of both liberal and conservative Catholics. I found it rather interesting---(I blogged on it if you want to read my complete thoughts). Was wondering your thoughts: Do you think there is a way liberals and conservatives can find common ground?" You will find another interesting post on the same interview here.

First off, everyone should check out Kristin's great post on the topic. Just a note of clarification, though: Father Ron Rohlheiser, OMI, isn't on the staff of U.S. Catholic but was just interviewed by the magazine. He's actually president of the Oblate School of Theology in San Antonio, Texas, and a syndicated columnist whose articles appear in quite a few diocesan newspapers. At the end of the interview you'll find two columns, "Three things for liberals to ponder" and "Three things for conservatives to ponder," which will give you a flavor for his writing.

My own response, as someone who approaches these issues from the left as it were, is simply that not only can conservatives and liberals find common ground, but that we must, and that there is a lot at stake if we don't. The weight of the world, and not just in the West, is leaning hard against the gospel. Consumer culture is incredibly powerful, and I think both liberal and conservative Catholics share the conviction that there's more to life than buying and selling, than youth and beauty, and, more importantly, that the gospel has the power to transform the world.

In fact, on the issues I would call "matters of faith"--the Creed, the full divinity and full humanity of Jesus, the sacraments, the divine institution of the church, the canon of scripture, the role of Mary and the saints, the church's moral teaching in general (granting some areas of dispute) including its social teaching, the many forms of Catholic spirituality, the list goes on--there is not only general agreement but unanimity. The issue is usually a matter of emphasis.

As for those "disputed questions," my only point has been, and continues to be, that there have always been issues of dispute, that the church's understanding of revelation can and does develop and change, and that dispute, disagreement, and even dissent are part of that process. As a rule, I don't disagree that many "conservative" positions are legitimate positions within the Catholic tradition, only that they are not the only legitimate positions possible within the Catholic tradition.

One question I think all of us--liberal and conservative--might ask ourselves about our own "issues": Does my faith stand or fall on issues that aren't central to Catholicism?


At 10:14 AM, Blogger Kristin said...

Well, I don't think it is possible to just gloss over the major tenets of our faith and salvation, (such as the physical resurrection of Christ, mortal sin) hold hands, and sing Kumbyya but I think we can start by respecting personhood. I like what you said regarding how both liberals and conservatives feel there is more to life than the superficial vanities the secular world offers. We both seek to think outside ourselves and aid humanity which is a positive thing and a good place to start.


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