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Hope and Change in the Church
A recent conversation highlights the challenge of talking about “hope” and “change” in the Church.
A few weeks ago I had a quick lunch with an old friend and a new colleague. Eventually my friend (a Notre Dame alumna, “new evangelist” and educator) and I got into a lively discussion about “change” in the Church, given all the hope that has been expressed lately about what changes Pope Francis might bring.
My position is basically this: it is naïve to think that the Church does not change, and it is unhelpful at best and dangerous at worst to suggest that the Church cannot change. The Batman meme above vividly demonstrates a misguided and wrong-headed understanding of the Church.
“The Church should change” does not mean “the truth must/can change”. It is Church discipline – and often really just Church culture – not dogma, which should change in the minds of most. Though there are always exceptions, I suspect most Catholics are not agitating for moral relativism, an end to Trinitarian theology, a return to Arianism, denial of the Resurrection or the Real Presence, promoting abortion or war, that we do away with ordained ministry or that we change the Sunday Eucharist into an hour long drum circle featuring Kumbaya in a dozen different languages.
What most Catholics mean when they say that they hope for change in the Church is ecclesiological, ecumenical, pastoral, and practical. They want a positive gospel message (“God is love” or “Love God and thy neighbor”, and all that radical wishy-washy stuff, you know); they want better preaching, better music, better liturgy; they want transparency and accountability in church decisions, participation in governance, and maybe even more married clergy and less clericalism. They want bishops (and pastors, deacons, DRE’s et al.) to be servant-leaders, not lords of their own fiefdoms. They want ecumenism and interreligious dialogue to work, and to have real effect. They want more effort spent on social justice than on ecclesiastical protocol, more money spent on education and pastoral care than on neo-Baroque bling.
But my experience of most Catholics, admittedly, is based on my experience in parish pastoral ministry and Catholic higher education. My friend has spent several years on the front lines of pre-evangelization, new evangelization, and even good old-fashioned evangelization and catechesis, often in the context of guiding groups of pilgrims and students around Rome’s most sacred sites.
Her position was that “the church should change” is basically code for “the church’s teaching about morals should change to match the social norms of the western world.” When people say change, they mean that the church should get out of its old-fashioned rut, and embrace a woman’s right to choose, gay marriage, equal rights (and rites) for women in the ecclesiastical workforce, and so forth.
That it may be, in some cases, just as in others, “the church should change” means “the church should eliminate the novus ordo, go back to the Tridentine rite, and embrace traditional Catholic culture (circa 1940).”
The problem, though, in assuming that “the church can/must change” is code for a particular agenda is that it stymies the possibility of real conversation and dialogue. The Church is in fact always changing. All we have to do is look at the papacy of Benedict XVI to see a number of examples of change in the church. And no one can accuse Ratzinger of being radical, wishy-washy, or unorthodox.
He changed the liturgy, both in terms of the translations and in terms of the mark his own personal preferences have had. Even just during my four years in Rome, you could see lots of changes to the liturgy at St. Peter’s – longer, less participatory music; rosaries before mass begins; communion no longer offered in the hand; a crucifix and candles dominating the altar; cardinal-deacons vesting in mitre and dalmatic; etc., etc. He changed canon law to exclude deacons from acting “in persona Christi capitis,” making this phrase more about Eucharistic presidency and less about holy orders or leadership in the Church. He innovated in creating ordinariates for disenchanted Anglicans. He pushed forward reforms relating to the sex abuse crisis (at least for priests, if not bishops). He created a personnel office for the Vatican. He called in an outside audit of Vatican finances.
In short, the Church changed a lot under Pope Benedict; why would we not expect it to change with Pope Francis? The Church changes, and survives. Change simply means that things are different than they were before. It is a sign of life, and of fidelity to the principle ecclesia semper purificanda (the church must always be purified). Rather than dismissing the idea of the church changing, embrace it – critically, intelligently, and faithfully.
Remember Dante’s Divine Comedy – God is pure dynamism. The only creature which cannot change is Satan, eternally frozen in the deepest pit of hell.
After 35 Years: A Return to Reform?
My friends can tell you that I have a bad habit. Actually, more than one, but only this one is relevant at the moment. When going through my email inbox, I tend to scan everything, then work from the least important first ‘saving the best for last’, so to speak. Especially after a busy week, I might spend an hour just sorting through quasi-spam and quick reply messages, clearing the space so I can respond to the really important ones. The problem is that I too often run out of time, and messages from my closest friends or strongest ecumenical contacts languish a little too long awaiting attention. The same logic has log-jammed my blog lately.
Since about two weeks after Pope Francis was elected as bishop of Rome, I have sat down several times to start a reflection on his fledgling papacy. The problem is, every time I do this, I get distracted reading about whatever exciting new thing he has done. Often they are little changes, gestures and actions, but they paint a picture of humility and commitment to reform, openness to dialogue and noble simplicity of faith and its expression.
By now the litany of these little things is well known: He appears on the balcony dressed in the simple white simar, like John Paul I, rather than the mozetta and stole of JPII and BXVI. He asks for our blessing before offering his own. He makes personal phone calls. He demonstrates astute ecclesiological acumen by referring to himself as the bishop of Rome, and his predecessor as bishop emeritus of Rome, exclusively. He stops by to pay his hotel bill in person. He moves an entire liturgy out of St. Peter’s and into a juvenile prison. He washes the feet of women and Muslims. He calls the Patriarch of Constantinople ‘my brother Andrew’. He’s formed a representative committee of cardinals to reform the governance of the Catholic Church – or at least the Roman curia. He has unblocked the path to sainthood of one of the 20th century’s great martyrs, Oscar Romero. And so on…
A couple weeks after he was elected, one veteran vaticanist noted that “suddenly, everyone around here is laughing and smiling.” A senior colleague said “I had forgotten what it was like to be so encouraged and inspired.” A fellow student commented that it “felt as if a burden has been removed that I did not know I had been carrying my whole life [c.35 years]”
Although great joy truly has the reaction of the vast majority of people to Francis, not all have been positive. It took the traditionalist fringe all the way until Holy Thursday (15 days after election) to retreat into the old safeholds of disrespect and antagonism. First, they blame the press for creating a false Francis vs. Benedict comparison, and leap on every fan’s expression of praise for Francis as though it were an insult to Benedict. Some immediately decried his humility as false, a kind of stage prop, and held up as a paragon of true humility the faithful master of ceremonies of Benedict XVI, novus Marini, for ‘suffering’ the loss of his lace. They have accused him of being a slob, of undermining the office of the papacy. Basically, they are afraid of change, hurt that the first pope since Pius XII to actually like all the neo-baroque nonsense resigned, and afraid of a return to the days when people were excited about the changes that Vatican II promised. [e.g.]
Everyone else had just long since forgotten what it was like to feel excited about the prospect of change in the church.
Earlier this month a Jesuit friend told me how his confreres have noted that the ‘young people’ do not seem to like Francis very much. The problem, though, here in Rome, is that ‘young people’ are judged as is everything else: clerically. The seminarians under 40, the same ones who were drawn to the priesthood as a power structure, certainly are nervous. But everyone else is giddy. The young, the old, the long-suffering and the fair-weather, everyone is happy but for those who invested in birettas and lace surplices (cf. John Allen, Jr.). But even for them, there remains a place in the Church. How could there not? No one is threatening their particular peculiarities and liturgical peccadilloes. But they simply are no longer being championed as the next big thing.
Yesterday, Pope Francis’ comments to the Conference of Latin American Religious were leaked, in which he seems to suggest not taking the CDF investigation of Religious too seriously, bemoans his own lack of administrative organization, acknowledges the problem of a “gay lobby” in the Vatican, and identifies as two of the most significant concerns today the Pelagianism of restorationist/traditionalist movements, and the Gnosticism of certain spiritualist movements.
One is the Pelagian current that there is in the Church at this moment. There are some restorationist groups. I know some, it fell upon me to receive them in Buenos Aires. And one feels as if one goes back 60 years! Before the Council… One feels in 1940…” The Pope is then said to have illustrated this with a joke: “when I was elected, I received a letter from one of these groups, and they said: “Your Holiness, we offer you this spiritual treasure: 3,525 rosaries.” Why don’t they say, ‘we pray for you, we ask…’, but this thing of counting…
(Though, it strikes me now, what will this mean for all the plenary indulgences I have been able to accrue while living in Rome? I have been saving them up for a rainy day, and now the numbers do not matter? Sheesh…)
Yet, lest you fear (or cheer) His Holiness’ critique of the extreme fringe as a radical departure from his predecessor, Andrea Tornielli reminded us of this commentary on the same topic from then-Cardinal Ratzinger:
…the other face of the same vice is the Pelagianism of the pious. They do not want forgiveness and in general they do not want any real gift from God either. They just want to be in order. They don’t want hope they just want security. Their aim is to gain the right to salvation through a strict practice of religious exercises, through prayers and action. What they lack is humility which is essential in order to love; the humility to receive gifts not just because we deserve it or because of how we act…
Joseph Ratzinger, “Guardare Cristo: esempi di fede, speranza e carità” [Looking at Christ: Examples of faith, hope and charity]. 1986.
The sense now, for most, is that people are hopeful, but hesitate to be too hopeful. More and more, people are reminded of John Paul I, Papa Luciani, who had the same simple, honest way with the Petrine ministry and the hope that he had instilled that the reforms of the Council would continue, only to have those hopes dashed after only 33 days. Three months after Francis’ election, I think some people are still afraid that their hopes will not have the chance to come to fruition. But hope it is.
Catholic or catholic?
If you do not know the blog Get Religion, you should, especially if you have any interest in reporting on religion in secular media, or any interest in how religions present themselves to the world through the secular media.
There was a recent post discussing the terms Catholic and catholic, and what they mean. While doing a good job of looking at catholic as universal versus Catholic as referring to the Catholic Church, it left a few vagaries intact, that I have always struggled with, especially in secular reporting on the Catholic Church.
Briefly, the most misunderstood aspect of secular reporting on these terms is to always conflate ‘Roman Catholic Church’ and Catholic Church.
I have mentioned it before, but, simply put, the Catholic Church is the Catholic Church. It is not the only church that is catholic, nor is it the entire church catholic, but there is only one church called, officially, the Catholic Church., and it is the 1.1 billion member church in communion with Rome.
Roman Catholic, at most, indicates only a part of the Catholic Church – one of the 23 sui iuris churches that make up the Catholic Church. Roman Catholic and Latin Catholic are basically synonymous. However, Roman Catholic Church and Catholic Church are not synonymous. A Ukranian-Greek Catholic, a Chaldean Catholic, or a Maronite Catholic are all Catholic, but none are Roman Catholic.
More strictly, as I write from Rome, Roman Catholic means those Catholics who belong to the Church of Rome – that is, the Diocese of Rome. There are less than 3 million. Neither should the entire Catholic Church be referred to as the Roman Church – that would be like referring to the Anglican Communion as the Church of Canterbury, or to the Lutheran World Federation as the Augsburgian Church.
Yet, the AP style manual still insists on using ‘Roman Catholic’ instead of simply Catholic. In the end, admitting that the Catholic Church is properly called Catholic and not Roman Catholic does not mean it is, or thinks it is, the only catholic church, nor that it is the entire church catholic, but it is ecumenically appropriate to call a Church what it calls itself. The Catholic Church is the Catholic Church, and no high-church Anglicans were harmed in the making of this statement.
What do Catholic traditionalists and extreme feminists have in common?
Quote of the Day:
In every age there are people for whom history does not exist…Curiously, the Catholic restorationist who identifies the Gospel with certain vestments from the 1880s, with one biblical translation, or with a vessel from the fifth century or the fifteenth century has somewhat the same mind-set as the extreme feminist who rejects the past three millennia of cultures because their attitudes toward women in public life were limited. Both fixate on one time -whether that is in the past or today – and reject variety and progress. … The deepest enemy of every fundamentalism is history.
Thomas P. O’Meara, OP, Theology of Ministry, (New York: Paulist Press, 1999), 86
[Between the number of friends i count among both feminists and traditionalist Catholics, i trust everyone is equally piqued.]
Assisi 2012 – Where we Dwell in Common.
So, I have had a bit of a break from blogging, mostly to focus on other writing, and owing to other distractions. Rome can do that.
However, I find myself now with about 30 pages of back-notes for blogs, and sitting in Assisi for a conference of the Ecclesiological Investigations Network, so it seemed opportune to begin again with some observations from the first day. The theme is Assisi 2012: Where we Dwell in Common – Pathway sofr Dialogue in the 21st Century. The three thematic tracks are intra/inter ecclesial issues (ecumenism/ecclesiology), interfaith/interreligious issues, and Faith and World/Culture.
We arrived yesterday and started with an opening plenary prayer in the Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli, home of the Porzincula, and greeted by Assisi Archbishop Domenic Sorrentino and Friar Fabrizio Migliasso, Custodian of the basilica.
There are a few familiar faces (Peter Phan, Rick Gillardetz, Dennis Doyle, Michael Kinnamon), and a few names I finally get to put faces to (Paul Murray from Durham, the other Viggo Mortensen). But I confess I am a little surprised how few I knew or knew of – one more reminder of how insulated pontifical academia can get.
Participants number over 200, from 55 countries, and several different churches and faiths. The opening panel offered insights into the theological situation in Italy for the participants, and the opening keynote was offered by Paul Arthur of North Ireland, offering lessons from the peace process there for dialogue initiatives. Peter Phan offered a humorous evening toast, and Dennis Doyle delivered a deadpan response. This morning began with a plenary panel composed of Brad Hinze (US), Mary Getui (Kenya), and Eleni Kasselour Hatzivassiliadi (Greece) and a response from Deivit Montealegre (Argentina).
The late morning, we had parallel plenaries, with mine focused on interchurch issues, such as:
- The Burdens of History: Must Tribalism Always Prevail?
- Hierarchy or Network of Truths? Hermenutical Principles and Challenges of Dialogue about Doctrinal Issues
- Does a Doctrinal Teaching Office have an Ecumenical Future? (Which focused on a recent report of the Group des Dombes)
The afternoon held smaller breakout sessions with panels of smaller papers, and more direct discussion. I chose one with a Chilean and Tanzanian students from Louven, and Michael Walsh, the British church historian. He offered a look into an as-yet unpublished encyclical of Pius XI, Ecclesia Christi – On the True Church of Christ. It is one of two released in the archives of his pontificate.
It is so healthy, and people are so approachable. It is like a retreat, except that daily life in Rome is like a retreat, so I guess having a packed schedule is the retreat from the retreat. Having the daily intellectual stimulation with world class scholars is a nice break though. It is such a culture clash from the daily pontifical experience though, nobody is here speaking in official capacity, and everyone is quite open. No holds barred in critiquing the narrowing hermeneutic of the Council, calling to task shoddy scholarship, or directly challenging other churches for inconsistencies or unusual doctrinal stances.
I present on Friday, offering some observations on non-priestly ministries as opportunities for ecumenical convergence. Diaconate and lay ecclesial ministry anyone?
Catholic or Roman Catholic? – Kasper on Ratzinger
“It is the Catholic Church, not the Roman Catholic Church. I know Pope Benedict is strongly against using ‘Roman Catholic’ [to describe the whole Catholic Church] because like me he lived through the Nazis. The Nazis called us römisch-katholisch to emphasize the Roman and downplay the Catholic. No German Catholic theologian would use ‘Roman Catholic’ in that way.”
Cardinal Walter Kasper, during a lecture in a course offered at the Angelicum this semester, “Ecclesiological Themes in Ecumenical Dialogue: Catholicity, Apostolicity, Unity”
Year in Review
As the Year of Grace 2011 ended, I reviewed my “to write” file for the blog, and found no less than 22 pages of notes on events and ideas I had not had time to develop into full posts. Here is a list of some highlights from the last year, with links to posts if I have them and as I develop them!
- Mom visits Rome!
- Christmas at Caravita; generosity of hosts for Christmas Eve (Cindy) and Christmas Day (Jill)
- Lay Centre Board member Ralph Dwan called home to God
- Interdisciplinary Conference on Sharing Sacred Spaces
- Lord Jonathan Sacks lecture
- Lay Centre 25th Anniversary and Papal Knighthood for co-founders
- Chicago CTU Board in Rome, new Alliance with Lay Centre
- my step-sister wins a new car!
- Cardinal Kasper in the classroom: Unity, Catholicity, and Apostolicity of the Church
- Colloquium on Anglican Patrimony in Light of the Apostolic Constitution: Liturgical Perspectives – Bishop Stephen Platten of Wakefield; Canon Jonathan Goodall; Fr. Keith Pecklers, SJ
- Board of Governors of the Anglican Centre visit the Lay Centre
- Canon Nicholas Sagovsky lecture, “Being an Anglican in 21st century”
- Embassy DVC on Religion in Foreign Policy with ND
- Angelicum Rector Charles Morerod, OP nominated bishop of Fribourg, Lausanne, and Geneva
- Casa Internationale Giovanni XXIII: The other lay collegio in Rome
- Pilgrimage of Peace, Pilgrimage of Truth: 25th Anniversary of Assisi gathering of World’s Religious Leaders
- Tom Ryan, CSP in Rome
- Russell Berrie Orientation: Shabbat Shopping during Sukkot
- Lay Centre Orientation: Yom Kippur and an Israeli’s first Mass
- Ambassador Miguel Diaz helps launch Religion in Foreign Policy initiative
- Short visit home in the Pacific Northwest
- Cascade Covenant Church
- Helping my sister move: 16 hours on the road, 45 minutes unpacking the truck
- My brother’s new house
- Netherlands: visiting Eveline, Clare
- New York/New Jersey: visiting Courtney, Liam, Rob
- Lay Centre 25th Anniversary Colloquium: My paper on the laity and ecumenism
- Archbishop Sartain of Seattle in Rome for Pallium
- EuroPride in Rome – monastic perspectives from the hill
- Notre Dame Chorale Concert at Sant’Ignazio: Michael and Kerri Castorano
- Eucharistic Procession with Cardinal Marc Ouellet
- Notre Dame Glee Club and Fr. Michael Driscoll in Rome
- Lay Centre alumnus Theodosius Kyriakidis debuts his documentary film on Greek Christians in Asia Minor; another alumnus Mustafa Cenap Aydin of Turkey responds
- Archbishop Michael Fitzgerald and Leijla Demiri present on Interfaith Dialogue of life
- Beatification of JPII
- Fr. Michael Casey, O.Cist. visits Lay Centre
- Assisi and Florence with Courtney and co.
- David Ford and Stephen Kepnes: The Future of Theology
- Annual JPII Lecture David Ford on Scriptural Reasoning
- Paschal Triduum in Rome
- Culture Week in Rome
- Meeting with Fr. Norbert Hofmann
- Cardinal Walter Kasper, “Why I am a Man of Hope” lecture at Lay Centre
- Dame Mary Tanner at Anglican Center
- Colloquium on Anglican Patrimony in light of the Apostolic Constitution: A Canon Law Perspective
Earlier unwritten posts:
- Cardinal Levada visits the Lay Centre
- Springtime of Faith Summit in Rome – local presenters include two cardinals, two professors, and me!
Ideas, ongoing or upcoming:
- Liberal and Conservative in the Church (see june 26, Feb 2)
- Nostra Aetate, Dabru Amet, and Common Word
- ARCIC III and Personal Ordinariates
- Clericalism and Anti-clericalism
- Laïcite, laity, secularism, and secularity
- Vocations: discernment or recruiting office?
- Catholic Education beyond parochial schools
- “Catholic” vs. “Roman Catholic”: What’s in a Name?
- The Bologna Process and Pontifical Universities
- Papal honors as ecclesiological indicator
- Liturgy Wars: Episode V – The New Translation
- Call for a Common Easter
- The Big Sort
- Ecumenical Updates: Where have we got with all this dialogue?
- Wikipedia as Courtyard of the Gentiles: A call for biographical articles on great ecumenists and other theologians
- A Parable: The Kingdom of God is like the Electromagnetic Spectrum and it is Easier for a Colorblind Man to Pass Through 400-789 Terrahertz than to Enter it…
- Upcoming article in Koinonia
- Upcoming article and presentation for Assisi 2012: Ecclesiological Investigations Network conference
And finally: “The Diaconate in the International Ecumenical Dialogues: Toward an Understanding of the Deacon as Minister of Unity.” a tesina to be submitted for the License in Sacred Theology…
Quote of the Day – ‘Liberal’ and ‘Conservative’ in the Church
We hear much about the imaginary case of Conservatives v. Liberals in the church… The labels are misconceived, misplaced, and misleading.
Today’s “conservatives” are mostly clinging to convictions and habits developed mainly after the Council of Trent; rare among them are those familiar with the church of the first millennium, and even rarer those who wish to return to its practices.
They who in common parlance are called “liberals” hardly form a cohesive group. Many of them are simply searching honestly for the correct practical implementation of the conciliar vision. Others are “free thinkers” of sorts; they want to propagate the Council’s vision but do not have enough knowledge to do so within the balancing parameters of the Tradition; they easily fall into unacceptable excesses.
With some simplification it is fair to say, though, that the contemporary fight between the conservatives and the (faithful) liberals is between the “Tridentines” and the followers of Vatican II.
Ladislas Orsy, Receiving the Council: Theological and Canonical Insights and Debates. Liturgical Press: 2009. p.87, footnote 22
(Responses welcome, as always! What do you think?)
I originally posted this a couple of years ago on a different blog. I came accross it recently, and given where i am now (that is, Rome), it still seems funny, and i hope you can appreciate the humor. [Disclaimer: No clerics were harmed in the making of this post.]
**Original Post: August 15, 2008**
At an ecumenical meeting not long ago, i found myself again trying to explain lay ecclesial ministry to a Lutheran pastor. While many non-Catholics (and even some Catholics) often think the only ministers in the Catholic Church are priests, at least this one had been ecumenically involved long enough to know different. He just was not sure how to address me.
“As a member of the Board,” he said, “you deserve to be addressed with appropriate formality in correspondence, and appropriate respect during meetings. So, what do we call you?”
I told him the name given me at my birth and baptism was Andrew, and that was fine – or A.J., as I have been known since birth: “No adornments necessary.”
Pressed, however, I shared how evangelical Christians i meet with invariably address me as “Pastor Boyd”, since anyone who does professional pastoral ministry is, ipso facto, a pastor, and therefore called “pastor”. I noted how, every time i got something from Hilel or the local synagogue, it was addressed to “Rev. Boyd”, because, again, the logic is, clergy are professional ministers, and I am a professional minister, so i must be clergy. Even when filling out legal forms, i often have to select “clergy” as my occupation, because for the uninitiated, clergy is defined by Webster, and not the Codex Iuris Canonicis, as “a group of church officials doing official church ministry”.
After all this, i was informed it just was not acceptable. We had to find something appropriate to my position as not-ordained but vocational, “professional” minister of the Church while respecting the internal distinction between clerical and lay ministers. So we began an exploration.
“Virtually Reverend”, “Not-Quite-Reverend”, and “Sort-of-Reverend” were all suggested before we alighted on “The Almost Reverend”.
After my colleague observed that a personal style was needed, too, I remembered a line from a great book and movie about a pope, Saving Grace, and we decided the only possible ecclesiastical style for someone of such standing as myself was “Your Mediocreness…”
Therefore I can now fit in at the next clerical cocktail party as “His Mediocreness, The Almost Reverend A. J. Boyd”.
I am thinking of petitioning the Pontifical Council for the Laity for making this a universal norm…
The Year of the Priest: Corresponsibility of Priests and Laity
The Lay Centre has three major aspects to its ministry of hospitality and formation. The first is the one most familiar to anyone reading my blog or following my studies, which is the community of students and scholars who live in the house of formation throughout the academic year (Oct-June) and who eat, pray and learn together in an ongoing dialogue of life. The second is the ongoing adult formation offered (mostly) to the English-speaking population of Rome. Theology, spirituality, church history, liturgy, art, and architecture offered by faculty of the pontifical universities and visiting scholars every Thursday morning as part of the Vincent Pallotti Institute.
The third piece of the mission is the summer seminars and retreats offered by the lay centre. During June, July, and September groups come in from around the world to spend a week in Rome. Some have their own agenda and primarily enjoy the hospitality of the Lay Centre, while others are sponsored by the Centre directly and open to anyone from around the world.
A few years ago I remember hearing about Rome’s first-ever symposium on Lay Ecclesial Ministry, and recall thinking to myself, “First? This has been going on 50 years and they are only now talking about it???” Little did I know. (One can hear about how slowly time moves in the Eternal City, but you really have to be there to appreciate it, soak it in, and start wondering what all the fuss was about back when you cared about things like deadlines, traffic laws, and absolute concepts of any kind…)
One of the programs offered this summer was the latest in the series touching on lay ecclesial ministry, but with a timely twist. In honor of the Year of the Priest, and timed to coincide with the closing festivities of the year, the theme was taken from Pope Benedict’s address to the annual convention of the diocese of Rome (given at St. John Lateran on May 26, 2009) and again later to the presbytery of Rome at the beginning of the year: “Corresponsibility of Priests and Laity”.
The unique opportunities for a program like this in Rome include access to so much of the Church’s history within walking distance, access to curia officials, access to representatives of the Church from all over the world, and of course the hospitality of the Lay Centre.
The program progressed through the centuries day by day, with an examination of key saints and their experience of “corresponsibility”. We studied St. Paul and his collaborators with Abbot Edmund Power of the Benedictine Abbey of St. Paul Outside the Walls – guardians of the tomb of the great missionary and co-patron of Rome. St. Justin Martyr, a layman, buried at St. Lawrence Outside the Walls. Pope St. Gregory the Great, with his oratory of St. Andrew is literally just over the wall from my Roman home. St. Vincent Pallotti was an early modern pioneer of lay formation.
Contemporary organizations and developments we looked at included the Emmanuel Community, Sant’Egidio, the Pontifical Council for the Laity, and the Union of the Catholic Apostolate. Presenters included Dr. Marian Diaz, Fr. William Henn of the Gregorian, Ms. Ana Crisitina Villa-Betancourt of the PCL, Fr. Jean Baptiste Edart of the Emmanuel Community, and John Breen of the Beda College in Rome. The participants were mostly students and (both lay and ordained) ministers from the U.S., but included one Dutch pastoral life director.
[Further Reflection to Follow]