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Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Cliched Dismissals

A very interesting piece on the crying need for liberal secular humanists to be less close-minded.
It is aimed at the Irish, but I think it applies to us in the US as well.

Benedict told [the French] that the [C]hurch is an ally of the state in its efforts to forge an ethical society. In turn, the [C]hurch seeks only to propose, rather than impose, its ideas about the human person and the human community.

Recognising that this ongoing dialogue will need a home, the Archdiocese of Paris has recently renovated Collège des Bernardins, a 760-year-old Cistercian monastery by the Seine, as the venue for a robust but respectful exchange between "the city and the [C]hurch", between secular culture and the Catholic faith.

The [C]hurch in Ireland has no physical locus for such a dialogue but perhaps the news that the Eucharistic Congress will take place here in 2012 provides an opportunity for a similar respectful engagement to begin between the city and the [C]hurch, between "seekers" and those of faith.

Unfortunately, in the public mind, the Eucharistic Congress is hostage to the black and white images of the 1932 Dublin gathering and the associated memory of a confessional Republic. Likewise, Catholicism in Ireland is hostage to memories of a domineering church that overplayed its hand.

The result is a cliched dismissal of anything the [C]hurch might have to say on a range of issues.

So, for instance, any comment on sexual morality is seen as an attempt to restore a Victorian Puritanism. The [C]hurch, though, is an asset to the State.

Catholic schools, for instance, are forming a generation of youngsters who, prompted by their faith, take a keen interest in social justice issues in their local communities and in the developing world.

"A person who believes is a person who hopes", Sarkozy told his audience in Rome last December, "and it's in the interest of the Republic that there be many women and men who nourish hope."

In an Ireland grappling with economic turmoil, anxiety about the future and the fragmentation of community and family life, perhaps a Catholicism that nourishes hope ought to be a very welcome participant in the public square.

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