A recent National Catholic Reporter editorial (Feb. 18,2010) asks the question "are liberals dying or hiding?" Furthermore it states "The proposition that liberal Catholicism is dying has been offered from time to time, for decades now, often in a way that reminds one of the schoolyard scuffler more interested in the fight than in any point being made."
The ongoing tension between liberal and conservative Catholics continues to be seen as a threat to the entire institution by some camps. In what should be seen as a healthy approach to spiritual growth as well as promoting mutual understanding is becoming a battle ground for determining 'who is in and who is out!'. Many conservatives have suggested to their counterparts that they cannot be considered true members of the faith and should therefore leave the Church as soon as possible. Fear not that liberals always avoid being equally abrasive or inflexible in their opinions.
So, for the benefit of both I am prepared to lay bare where I stand on some of the issues that challenge the Catholic Church (and many other religions) today. Should I therefore consider myself a dangerous heretic and/or dissenter of the faith if I think a Catholic is someone that:
- joyfully embraces the spirit and vision of Vatican II
- continues to search for God in all humankind and creation
- never stops asking questions about his/her faith
- risks & looks for God beyond established dogma and doctrine and Tradition
- trusts the God within
- often 'misses the mark'
- believes in a God who does not punish and loves all unconditionally
- shares the belief that Jesus did not found a church but rather a way of life!
- is dedicated to ministering in his community including gays.
- believes in equal justice for both women and men in Church leadership
- believes that spiritual growth requires 'letting go' and 'letting God'.
- challenges the institution to find our unknowable God in and beyond the traditional understandings
- recognizes Satan, the devil, etc., not as a separate entity, but as the False-Self or Ego.
- understands 'pro-life' to mean life from the Alpha to the Omega
- we must not judge people, especially on such divisive issues as abortion/euthanasia, etc., because we have not walked in their shoes.
- fears change; but realizes that change is necessary if we are to accept God's ongoing creation and our role in it.
- none of the world's religions have the 'corner on the faith market', but all have a purpose and contribution to make under God's plan
- the Church has not yet learned the truth behind the dark periods of religious history and the suffering it brought to humankind.
- needs to discard judgment with Christ's compassion and understanding
- puts God's gift of human potential before human failings
Finally, I believe everyone should be free to to add their own personal and unique view on these issues. Bearing in mind that we cannot possibly expect everyone to agree in perfect harmony with one another. Each person's faith journey will take a different or unique path - as was evident for the many saints and believers in our Church. A Church alive is a church engaged in dialogue (not monologue) with all its members. A Church alive recognizes that matters of faith and belief are based on diversity not a some kind of forced institutional idea of unity. The latter has resulted in much religious passivity. If we cannot agree with each other we must at least learn to love one another.