A recent article (click here for details) by Cindy Wooden of the Catholic News Services announced that the Catholic Church wants to re-introduce the theology of Apologetics. Its intent is to try and show that the Catholic faith is reasonable, and can be defended against the arguments of those who attack it.
It should be obvious to readers that this attempt by the Vatican to re-introduce the ‘art’ of apologetics is a simple devise to ward off the fear of becoming irrelevant. The opening paragraph should already alert most enlightened and informed Catholics that Jesus warned us not to ‘pour old wine into new wineskins’. This fear is echoed again and again when the author tries to defend the current problems experienced Church by pointing the finger at others, be they atheist, agnostics. Does scripture not remind us that before judging others we need to take the log out of our own eye before we examine the speck out our brother’s eye?” Note the long list apologist hope to defend: sexual abuse, abortion, AIDS, same-sex marriage and women in the Church. What is needed here is healing not some pamphlet defending it.
Note that the author makes repeated claims that the Church needs to TRAIN its members in its official teachings. It is hoped/planned to disseminate appropriate apologetic material ASAP into the hands of Catholics. At no time does the article suggest that People of God should have any input into this project, however valuable and inspirational that could be. Has the Church forgotten that faith is a matter of the heart, the place where God resides? What is really needed is for the Church to direct people to God – not become the destination. The Church must return to pure humility as Christ teaches us abundantly. The heart is the place where ALL people who have placed their trust in God will find their answers. Anything other than that merely results in the continued spread of co-dependency it produces.
This defensive article reminds me of a mechanic who when coming upon a car accident sends the driver to the garage instead of the automobile.
A great Catholic teacher of mine posted this reflection yesterday which explains the problem with ‘apologetics’ in much better terms.
“Today the unnecessary suffering on this earth is great for people who could have “known better” and should have been taught better by their religions. In the West, religion became preoccupied with telling people what to know more than how to know, telling people what to see more than how to see. We ended up seeing Holy Things faintly, trying to understand Great Things with a whittled-down mind, and trying to love God with our own small and divided heart. It has been like trying to view the galaxies with a five-dollar pair of binoculars.
Contemplation, my word for this larger seeing, keeps the whole field open; it remains vulnerable before the moment, the event, or the person—before it divides and tries to conquer or control it. Contemplatives refuse to create false dichotomies, dividing the field for the sake of the quick comfort of their ego. I call contemplation “full-access knowing”—not irrational, but pre-rational, non-rational, rational and trans-rational all at once. Contemplation is an exercise in keeping your heart and mind spaces open long enough for the mind to see other hidden material. It is content with the naked now and waits for futures given by God and grace”. . . Fr. Richard Rohr
In conclusion I appeal to all Catholics to return to the much greater faith inspiring program called ‘RENEW’, which allowed lay people (unsupervised by members of the clergy) to gather in their respective homes and discuss and enter more deeply into their questions of faith. RENEW was officially cancelled by conservative elements of the church when they realized that Catholics were perfectly capable of dealing with the complex questions of the faith.