Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
December 13, 1999
Christianity must be put into action
A visitor from Latin America asked a friend whether she was Christian. The answer was "yes." Instead of saying "Oh, that's nice" the visitor asked point blank, "What are you going to do about it?"
Indeed, what are all of us going to do about it besides keeping our noses clean? We just had European and American synods. To an outsider it seemed like a cozy gathering of the old boys club. Only the Asian synod seemed to raise some dust, but otherwise all things are quiet on the western front.
Except for a few housekeeping items, like a shortage of vocations, a decline in church attendance, a few rumblings from agitated women and other special interest groups, things are under control.
The liberation theology has been effectively squelched and the communist threat is ancient history. Truth has been preserved, relativism has been identified as a no-no and a truce on justification has been signed with the Lutherans precisely 482 years after the one, holy and apostolic Church was fragmented into a number of competing denominations which resulted in some of the most copious bloodletting episodes in history.
Carefully stated apologies have been made to Jews and aboriginals and others we might have offended in the past; scholars have reported on the circumstances which led to the Inquisition; Galileo has been exonerated and Pope Pius XII is considered for beatification. We're ready to enter the new millennium with a clean slate.
What a difference a couple of decades can make. We're easing out of this century with a whimper instead of a bang. The last big bang was Vatican II, almost 40 years ago. Then came a few aftershocks in Medellin and Pueblo, but things seemed to have settled back to normalcy.
The groundbreaking documents are gathering dust on the shelves of respectable archives and have become subjects of study for those still interested in a passionate past.
The dreamers and visionaries who shook the Church to its foundations have been silenced or buried. For awhile in the 1980s things seemed to flare up again but the grassfires were soon extinguished.
In 1983 the conservative element of the Brazilian episcopacy sent an urgent request to Rome to put a stop to what it called "a dangerous development." In April their colleagues had re-elected Ivo Lorscheider and like-minded bishops for a four-year leadership term of the largest Catholic bishops' conference in Latin America. This was the fourth consecutive time the "red bishops" had won the election.
Cardinal Eugenio Sales of Rio de Janeiro protested that the preferential option for the poor, championed by the progressives, was influenced by Marxism and sociology instead of spirituality. Bishop Cabrel Duarte warned that the Church under the present leadership would become a people's Church or popular Church.
One can scarcely imagine the scandal if the followers of Christ had in fact become the Church of the poor. What indeed would happen to the sacred tradition of a Church aligned with the privileged classes?
And who would look after the spiritual needs of those who seek a religion that does not mention anything political or social but is dedicated to speaking about the immortal soul and eternal rewards in kingdom come?
Well, thank God, the Vatican heard the alarm bells and radical Christianity was nipped in the bud.
We can relax now and sit back in our comfortable pew and contemplate the success of 2,000 years of continuous Christianity. The question remains: "What and when are we going to do something about it?"
Copyright © 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 -- Western Catholic Reporter
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