Monday, June 29, 2009

"We Can Make It Happen"

Senator John Marty speaks with LGBT Catholics
and their allies about his commitment and efforts
to achieve marriage equality for all Minnesotans

By Michael J. Bayly

Last Monday evening, June 22, the Twin Cities-based Catholic Pastoral Committee on Sexual Minorities (CPCSM) hosted its 29th Annual Community Meeting at St. Martin’s Table Restaurant and Bookstore. As executive coordinator of CPCSM I was honored to welcome those in attendance and to introduce our special guest speaker, Minnesota Senator John Marty – who was later awarded CPCSM’s 2009 Bishop Gumbleton Peace and Justice Award.

John Marty, son of Lutheran religious scholar Martin Marty, is a member of the Minnesota Senate, representing Senate District 54. He is also a Minnesota DFL candidate in the upcoming 2010 gubernatorial election. Marty entered politics in 1984 and throughout his successful political life has been a tireless advocate on environmental issues, health care reform, government ethics, and campaign finance reform. As part of his position on the latter, he does not accept soft money contributions or contributions from lobbyists, and he sharply limits the amount of contributions he will accept from any one person. Not surprisingly, Sen. Marty also opposes the public funding of stadiums and professional sports teams. In the area of health care, he is a supporter of the use of medical marijuana, and the chief author of the Minnesota Health Plan, a proposed single, statewide plan that would cover all Minnesotans for all their medical needs.

Of particular interest to the LGBT Catholics and their allies is the fact that in 2008 Sen. Marty co-authored Senate File 3880 (renamed earlier this year Senate File 20), a bill that would provide for gender-neutral marriage laws in Minnesota and thus allow same-gender couples to marry.

At CPCSM’s June 22 Annual Community Meeting, Sen. Marty shared the history and current status of Senate File 20. He also talked about why as a person of faith he supports marriage equality for all.

Sen. Marty began his talk by noting that when he was growing up in the 1960s, he viewed the Catholic Church as a leader of social justice issues. “It was very supportive of anti-war and anti-poverty initiatives and of civil rights for African Americans,” he said. “Unfortunately, somewhere along the line things changed, and it’s difficult to hear today of how Catholics cannot openly talk about sexual orientation or civil rights for LGBT people. It’s almost bizarre when you see what’s happening in the rest of society, where for the first time people are opening up on these issues. People’s attitudes are changing and it’s good to see that happening.”

Moving Forward

Recalling the time in 1983 when the first gay rights legislation was introduced by Rep. Karen Clark, Sen. Marty said that there were people who cheered when Clark observed that some opponents of equal rights for gays like to quote scripture to support their view that she as a lesbian shouldn’t have the right to live. “I found that to be really, really sick,” said Marty, who then provided a helpful overview of the subsequent gains that have been made in relation to gay rights in Minnesota.

He notes that in 2006 he began to notice a marked difference in attitudes around the issue of same-gender marriage – even within many faith communities. Then in 2008 he was approached by a gay partnered man and asked if he would introduce a marriage equality bill. Marty’s response was unequivocal: “I’d be glad to,” he told the man, “I’d be honored.”

Marty is adamant that as a civil society we should not ban people from doing something because some people’s religious beliefs say that it’s wrong. “That’s really offensive to me,” he said, “and so I was pleased to draft a bill for marriage equality.”

Although the passing of Prop 8 last November in California was viewed by many marriage equality advocates as a setback, Marty chose to view it as an opportunity to invigorate the movement. At a rally in Minneapolis shortly after the passage of Prop 8, he told the gathered crowd of his belief that “we’ve got to move forward, and we’ve got to move forward now.”

Words Matter

“Words matter,” Marty insists. “My wife and I have been married for over twenty years. We called our commitment ceremony a wedding; we called it a marriage. If you’ve had a commitment ceremony in a church or elsewhere and you think of it as a marriage, then call it that. Don’t worry about what other people say, you call it what you want and define the term. When people use the terminology that matters most to them, then other people’s attitudes are changed.

“I’m actually not that concerned about whether or not we call all government-sanctioned unions ‘civil unions’,” he says, “but we’ve got to use the same terminology for everyone. If someone wants to change marriage [in the civil arena] to union, well, that’s not a fight I care to get involved in. What I object to is different terminology that implies that some types of marriages are less good than others, that says we can’t use the word ‘marriage’ for them. I find that offensive.”

Marty observed that for a long time a lot of people in the LGBT community were saying that they don’t dare use the word “marriage” because it will incite their opponents and because they felt they didn’t have public support. The term “civil unions,” these folks reasoned, might be palatable and thus garner public support.

“The trouble with that argument,” says Sen. Marty, “is that as we discovered over one hundred years ago ‘separate but equal’ doesn’t work. In fact, there’s no such thing as ‘separate but equal,’ and it took sixty years for the Supreme Court to realize how wrong that was and to undo it. There’s no ‘separate but equal’ in racially segregated schools, and there’s no ‘separate but equal’ in having both marriages and civil unions. If you’re going to call them equal, you have to give them the same name. I don’t care what you call them but they’ve got to called the same thing.”

Changing Attitudes

Sen. Marty noted that OutFront Minnesota, the state’s largest LGBT support and lobbying organization, is supportive of his bill and have implemented a 3-5 year strategy to reach out to people around the state and facilitate dialogue. Faith communities will especially be focused upon, a strategy that Marty stressed was key.

“People’s attitudes around this issue have and are changing significantly,” he said. So much so that he sees marriage equality being achieved in Minnesota within three years. “I don’t think that’s unrealistic,” he said. “It’s no longer the uphill battle it was.”

“People change,” he reminded those in attendance at Monday’s CPCSM gathering. “They wake up, and they grow and they learn. The more we take control of the language, and the more we’re not afraid to speak out, the more attitudes change. And they are changing. They’re not changing by the decade anymore, they’re not changing by the year anymore. They’re changing by the month. We’re seeing a really profound difference in attitude. And it’s largely a generational thing. One of my colleagues told me: ‘My parents would never join a church that would marry a same-sex couple; my kids would never join a church that wouldn’t.’ She’s absolutely right about her kids – and, actually, I doubt she’s right about her parents.”

“Church pronouncements don’t change people’s minds,” Marty insists, “it’s folks figuring out that the two people who sit in the pew in front of them at church every Sunday are not friends but partners. That’s what changes people’s minds. Because they know these two guys, they know that they are nice people, that they’re just like us. They’re taxpayers, they work hard, they take care of their home. And the more people come out, the more we have same-sex marriages happening in other states, left and right, the more minds are changed. So I’m convinced that it’s not too far away, and I think three years is a legitimate goal for us in Minnesota. And we can make it happen.”

A Loving and Christian Thing to Do

Toward the end of his talk at CPCSM’s Annual Community Meeting, Sen. Marty shared how his faith encourages him to advocate and support marriage equality. “The Bible I read says that we’re supposed to love each other; that God loves us and cares about us, and created us in His image,” he said. “Making lifelong commitments is something we’re supposed to be proud of. We’re supposed to make commitments to each other. That’s a loving and Christian thing to do. Yes, I can read stuff in the ancient Hebrew law, in Leviticus, that I don’t think people should take as a standard for how to live their lives today, unless that is they want to do all that stoning of everybody that’s prescribed, but then most of them would be stoned as well. We know that that’s all ancient stuff, that in its own context and with the knowledge of that time it made sense. But it doesn’t make sense today.”

During the question-and-answer session that followed Sen. Marty’s talk, he stressed that, “as a politician, it’s not my role to figure out where the churches ought to be on this or that issue. Our bill explicitly says that this law does not mean that any church has to marry a same-sex couple. It also says that the government shouldn’t tell a church who they can and cannot marry.

Responding to a question concerning President Obama and the sense of disappointment and betrayal that many in the LGBT community feel about his administration’s lack of action on gay equality issues, Marty shared the view that “Obama is the new generation,” while at the same time acknowledging the “extreme disappointments” about the president efforts at health care reform, his “timidity on gay marriage,” and the fact that “outrageous things” continue to happen with regards to the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy. Sen. Marty also observed that Obama’s “step forward last week, when he sort of gave some benefits to same-sex partners” leaves him wondering, “Do we cheer the half-way step or lament the fact that he could have but didn’t go a lot further?”

Another audience member asked about the religious right. Sen. Marty acknowledged that this element remains in American politics and its members are going to be outspoken on the issue of marriage equality. “The best thing to do,” he suggested, “is not to vilify them but to say how we think they’re wrong. Let them go into their little clubhouses and do whatever they want, but just let everybody else have their marriages, have their lives, and have their rights.”

“I believe we ought to have marriage equality,” Sen. Marty reiterated, “and I’m working for that and I think attitudes are changing and a lot of people of faith are understanding it – largely because of groups like CPCSM that are initiating and encouraging dialogue from a faith perspective. And regardless of what some leaders of faith communities choose to say and do, the role of government is to treat people equally.”

Above: Senator John Marty being presented with CPCSM's
2009 Bishop Gumbleton Peace and Justice Award - June 22, 2009.

Above & below: Attendees at CPCSM's 29th Annual Community Meeting
- Minneapolis, June 22, 2009.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Two Catholic Bishops, Conscience, and the Common Good

By Paula Ruddy

Two U.S. Catholic bishops have recently expressed urgent concern for freedom of conscience in the public sphere. They are arguing for legal protection for people whose jobs require them to provide service to people whose ethics they disagree with. The services in question are medical services for those who choose to have abortions or sterilizations and the services connected with civil marriage to same-gender couples.

Are the bishops right? Should people employed to serve the public be protected by law in refusing to provide services to those they disagree with?

Examples from outside the emotionally charged areas of abortion and same-sex civil marriage may make the question clearer. Recently in local news, Muslim cab drivers were refusing to transport airport fares carrying duty-free alcohol or any passenger accompanied by a dog. The cab drivers’ refusal was based on religious beliefs and ethics. As it turned out, they were not given legal protection; they were threatened with suspension of their licenses. When another religious tradition’s ethics were the subject of conflict, did the Catholic bishops argue that the law should protect the cab drivers’ right to refuse service?

Archbishop Nienstedt on Abortion Services

Archbishop, John C. Nienstedt, in his April 2 column in the Catholic Spirit says he intended to reflect on the Easter triduum, but because of “a grave threat to our country’s well-being through the infringement of our right to exercise a freedom of conscience,” he was compelled to talk about a Health and Human Services (HHS) rule instead. In doing so, he uses phrases such as: government coming “between an individual citizen and God;” “first step in moving our nation from democracy to despotism,” “slippery slope to moral chaos.”

The intemperate language is aimed at the Obama administration and a move it made to hold hearings on a Health and Human Services agency rule dealing with the right to refuse abortion and sterilization procedures. What the Archbishop did not explain is that the HHS rule he is defending as crucial to our freedoms has been in effect only since January 20, 2009, and has nothing to do with forcing Catholics to assist in abortion or sterilization procedures.

The HHS rule in question was promulgated in the last days of the Bush administration and took effect in January 2009. It was intended to implement a law that has been in effect since the Roe v. Wade decision in 1973. That law, 42 USC Section 300 a-7, provides that health care entities receiving federal funds may not discriminate against either providers of abortion services or those who refuse to provide abortion services on the basis of “religious belief or moral conviction.” Catholic health care facilities are not forced to provide abortions or sterilizations. Catholic physicians are not forced to provide those services. Revising or rescinding the 2009 HHS rule would not repeal the 1973 law, so it is hard to see this as “a grave threat to our country’s well-being” or a move from “democracy to despotism.”

I do not know the results of the hearings or how his administration intends to re-write the rule, but President Obama, in his address at Notre Dame on May 17, 2009, made this conciliatory appeal:

Let’s honor the conscience of those who disagree with abortion, and draft a sensible conscience clause, and make sure that all of our health care policies are grounded in clear ethics and sound science, as well as respect for the equality of women.

This does not look like a step down “the slippery slope to moral chaos.” Is the Archbishop’s vehement language an effort to protect individual conscience or is it an effort to frighten people in order to criminalize abortion?

There may be political reasons to do so, but what is the logic of providing ”conscience clauses” for health care providers? Aren’t health care workers employed in a public facility providing abortion and sterilization procedures in the same position as the Muslim cab drivers? There are eleven abortion providers in the state of Minnesota, according to the Guttmacher Institute’s website. Why work for one if you are conscientiously opposed to providing abortion services? We would like to hear from anyone who has experienced problems of conscience in providing health care.

Bishop McCormack on Same-Sex Marriage

Another U.S. bishop’s concern is service providers’ freedom of conscience in same-sex civil marriages. Bishop John B. McCormack of Manchester urged the New Hampshire Governor to veto a same-sex marriage bill then making its way through the legislative process. He is quoted in the Manchester Union Leader of June 6, giving these reasons for his position:

When a change of this momentous scope is proposed and there is not adequate time to not only look at all the implications of it, but also not to hear in depth from the people whom it will affect, then there are going to be serious problems. Short of preserving marriage as the union of one man and one woman, there must be adequate protections for churches, but also for individuals who have a genuine conscientious objection to participating in or assisting ceremonies of same sex couples.

We urge Governor Lynch to veto this legislation, if for no other reason than it leaves too many unanswered questions regarding protections for religious organizations and persons of conscience.

The bill has since been signed by Governor Lynch making same-sex marriage legal in New Hampshire.

Imagining a situation Bishop McCormack may be talking about, let’s say a county clerk has a religious conviction that same-gender sex is sinful. In handling the marriage application of two men or working for the marrying judge, he is “assisting ceremonies of same sex couples.” If he can’t rationalize his duty as a public employee in serving people who are legally requesting a service of him, then he will have a problem of conscience. I’d say he is in the same position as the Muslim cab driver. He must either reason his way to providing the service or find a job in which he can avoid contact with people he considers sinners. He is in the same position as a person who in the past was conscientiously opposed to serving blacks, Irish, Jews, foreigners, women, or any other marginalized group. There is no reason to legally protect him in refusing to fulfill the duties of his employment.

A Mix-Up of Moral Questions

These two Catholic leaders appealing for “the right to freedom of conscience” in relation to public law set me to thinking about what that right is and how it affects the common good. I think the bishops have mixed up two very different moral situations.

One situation is about being coerced by law against one’s conscience. But neither the federal law restricting the states from criminalizing abortion nor the state laws allowing same-sex marriage force anyone to have an abortion or to marry a same-gender person. Both laws allow a freedom; neither coerces a person to some act in violation of conscience. Each woman is free, with restrictions in the second and third trimesters, to terminate a pregnancy according to her own conscience; and each man or woman is free, with some restrictions, to marry whomever he or she chooses in conscience to marry. If a law required a woman to have amniocentesis and abort a fetus with health problems, for example, civil disobedience would be in order and the bishops would be right to campaign against it.

In the other situation a person must choose what employment conditions are consistent with his or her ethical code. No one is forced by law to work in a job that violates his or her conscience. Though some people have the luxury of avoiding repugnant conditions, the necessity of making a living can make a person quite tolerant of sinners around him. If a person believes his own moral rectitude is threatened by the choices of the people it is his duty to serve, he has the freedom to quit the job. This is the moral situation both bishops describe. In a pluralistic society with multiple ethical codes, is it reasonable to expect the law to protect each person’s right to refuse to serve people whose ethics they disagree with? I don’t think so.

The bishops erroneously speak as if the moral obligation in the second situation were the same as in the first. This might be a good question to test the bishops’ position: if the state criminalized abortion or homosexual sex, would prosecutors who did not believe in the justice of criminal penalties for either of those acts have the right to refuse to prosecute under a “conscience clause” provided for them? Would the bishops advocate for that conscience clause? Probably not. What they advocate is not about freedom of conscience at all. It is about coercing others to live by a Catholic ethical code

I do not doubt that both bishops sincerely think that their ethical view is the objectively “right” one and that the nation’s adopting their view would be for the common good.

The Common Good

This is the crucial question: who is to say what is for the common good? There are myriads of goods (values) and individuals have different priorities of goods. Since the conception of a good life and how people should relate to one another is deeply ingrained in a culture, each cultural group knows what is good for them. In pooling our views, we the people, all voices heard, decide what is for the common good in creating laws for ourselves. It’s a very messy process, one that often fails to include all voices. Nonetheless it is the ideal. No one group can decide what is good for the whole nation. Cooperation within the system of laws that we ourselves have made is the closest we can come to delivering the common good.

Whether the laws are just is always open to question. Time, public debate among citizens, and evolution in ethical thinking will tell how durable they are.

And what of the ethics of citizenship in a pluralistic nation? I think good citizenship calls for recognizing ourselves and our own ethical community as one of many individuals and communities, all with a stake in determining the common good. It calls for respect for the others’ freedom of conscience, a reluctance to force laws on people. It calls for recognition of ethical ambiguity and compassion for the way others view their choices. It calls for reasonableness and the careful use of language in public discourse All in all, a serious task for all of us.

Friday, June 12, 2009

CCCR Work/Study Groups Underway

Coordinated local effort seeks to initiate dialogue and discern recommendations for reform

Currently across the Twin Cities metro area, small groups of Catholics are gathering in “work/study groups” to discuss a range of issues crucial to the local church. It’s an intentional and coordinated effort set in motion by the April 18 prayer breakfast that heralded the launching of the Catholic Coalition for Church Reform (CCCR). Although not officially sanctioned by the Archdiocese of St. Paul-Minneapolis, CCCR is composed of many individuals who are both members of local parishes and dedicated to respectful dialogue and hoped-for reform concerning various issues currently polarizing the Church.

Bernie Rodel, a member of CCCR leadership, notes that the coalition is an “organized mechanism for speaking out . . . the coming together of organizations of concerned and caring Catholics who promote the full participation of the baptized in all aspects of church life.”

Accordingly, the coalition is planning a series of “synods of the baptized,” the first of which is scheduled for September 18, 2010. Entitled “Claiming Our Place at the Table,” the 2010 Synod is being billed as a “workshop to address our role as baptized Catholics within the institutional church in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.”

Paul Lakeland (pictured at right), director of the Center for Catholic Studies and the Aloysius P. Kelly Professor of Catholic Studies at Fairfield University in Connecticut, will be the keynote speaker at the 2010 synod. It’s an appropriate choice as Lakeland’s most recent book is the award-winning Catholicism at the Crossroads: How the Laity Can Save the Church.

The numerous work/study groups that have begun meeting on a regular basis throughout the Twin Cities metro area are a key part of the preparations for CCCR’s 2010 Synod. Their purpose is to gather people together who share a passion for reforming certain areas of church life. These areas are ones that many have long recognized as being at odds with the Gospel message of love proclaimed by Jesus. They include clericalism, the selection of bishops, official teaching on sexuality and gender, and church authority and governance. Other areas are less controversial though still crucial when discussing renewal of the Church – Catholic spirituality; Catholic identity/Christian identity; social justice; and children, youth, and church.

Coalition member Paula Ruddy explains the rationale for the work/study groups as follows: “We identify with the tradition of baptismal responsibility for creating an institution that supports the human development of all its members. We also believe that grace builds upon nature. Accordingly, when institutional teachings and practices undermine full adult human development they hinder participation in the Church’s mission to bring the Gospel message to the world. Such teachings and practices must be identified and reformed.”

The plan that’s underway is that for the next sixteen months leading up to the 2010 Synod, each work/study group will prepare to present questions and recommendations for the Synod’s input and approval. The questions will be focused on the ways the local church does and does not manifest the Gospel message through its culture and practices. The Synod will then produce concrete recommendations for accentuating the positive and eliminating the negative in the Archdiocese of St. Paul-Minneapolis.

The primary outcome of the 2010 Synod will be the election of a Coordinating Council whose task will be to create mechanisms of horizontal and vertical communication within the Archdiocese so as to begin conversation about implementing the recommendations for reform.

It’s certainly not too late to become involved in one or more of CCCR’s work/study groups. To find out more information about the groups, click here. To sign-up, call Paula Ruddy at 612-379-1043.

See also the previous PCV posts:
“Something Exciting and Joyous”
In What Sense Are We Progressive Catholics? An Offering for Reflection and Discussion

Monday, June 1, 2009

One Archdiocesan Community, Two Mindsets

By Paula Ruddy

Are you a “Communion” Catholic or a “Kingdom” Catholic? Does it matter? Can you be a “just plain” Catholic?

The Pentecost encounter between Archbishop John C. Nienstedt and the Rainbow Sash Alliance this past week may be an example of two different mindsets, or worldviews, trying to make sense of each other.

Timothy Radcliffe, O.P., has an analysis that may help us understand the polarity within our church and give us a way to approach each other.

Here is how he describes each mindset:

By Kingdom Catholics, I mean those of us who have a deep sense of the church as the pilgrim people of God, on the way to the kingdom. The theologians who have been central for this tradition have been people like the Jesuit Karl Rahner, and the Dominicans Edward Schillebeeckx and Gustavo GutiƩrrez. This tradition stresses openness to the world, finding the presence of the Holy Spirit working outside the church, freedom and the pursuit of justice. They became very much identified with a publication called Concilium.

By Communion Catholics I mean those who came, after the council, to feel the urgent need to rebuild the inner life of the church. They went with theologians like Hans von Balthasar and the then Joseph Ratzinger. Their theology often stressed Catholic identity, was wary of too hearty an embrace of modernity, and they stressed the cross. They had their publication. It was called Communio.

Of course, all this is a bit of a caricature. I am able to go into a more nuanced analysis in my book. Most of us will feel some attraction to both of these traditions, but will probably feel a primary identification with one or the other. We will only heal the divisions if we stretch our imaginations open to understand why the others think and feel as they do. Before we can talk, we must sympathize, and feel how it is that their way of understanding the church offers them a home, a place in which to be at peace.

- Timothy Radcliffe, O.P., What is the Point of Being a Christian?;
lecture in April, 2006, entitled “Overcoming Discord in the Church”,
published in the National Catholic Reporter, May 5, 2006

Radcliffe says Vatican II disrupted the peace of Communion Catholics while it liberated Kingdom Catholics. Retrenchments from Vatican II dismay Kingdoms while they hearten Communions. They both experience what he calls “root shock,” a feeling of losing a home.

John L. Allen, Jr., in the National Catholic Reporter, May 17, 2007, writing about the Pope’s way of communicating, says this of the “communio school”:

Benedict is close to the communio school in Catholic theology, whose key figures accent the need for the church to speak its own language. It's an "insider's" discourse, premised on the conviction that Christianity is itself a culture, often at odds with the prevailing worldview of modernity. All this is part of Benedict's project of defending Catholic identity against pressures to assimilate in a relativistic, secularized world.

We don’t want to think of one mindset as right and the other wrong. They are different. They probably both have upsides and downsides. But to avoid extreme relativism in saying one is just as good as the other, we might say one has more going for it in 21st Century U.S.A. than the other. One may take into account more stages of human development than the other. One may produce stability while the other produces growth. We’d have to think that one through.

But for now, how does this analysis relate to the Archbishop and the Rainbow Sash?

The Rainbow Sash Alliance is a group of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender (GLBT) people, their families, friends, and allies, who gather each Pentecost at the St. Paul Cathedral at the noon Mass to celebrate their lives and gifts and to give thanks and praise in the Eucharistic celebration. They wear rainbow colored sashes to identify themselves. Not unlike the Knights of Columbus in full gear, celebrating the contributions they have made to the community.

The recent Archbishops have seen this as a protest to Church teaching about the intrinsic disorder of homosexual sex. As we understand it, their view is that protest at the Eucharistic celebration is contrary to the sign of unity Eucharist is supposed to be.

In responding to the Rainbow Sash leader, Brian McNeill, Archbishop Nienstedt wrote: “I ask you to refrain from such a public act of dissent, especially as it so clearly shows disrespect and irreverence for the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ.” He also talks about disrupting the prayer of the gathered community. He speaks of being out of communion with the Church’s teaching when there is disagreement.

We are suggesting that this illustrates the two different mindsets Radcliffe is talking about. The Archbishop, as a good leader, wants to maintain order. He is focused on the external behavior of respect and reverence for the sacrament, shown in this case by not drawing attention to the fact that there is disagreement among the communicants. He is concerned for the inner life of the church in that to function well the members should be in agreement on all the basics and obedient to the leaders. The Church is one body, thinking alike, acting reverently, producing a right minded, godly membership. He is speaking like a Communion Catholic.

The Rainbow Sash Alliance, on the other hand, wants to affirm difference. There are many ways we are not alike. Perhaps it would be acceptable to leave differences at the door of the Cathedral when going in to celebrate Mass if there were a forum within the Archdiocese for bringing them up and having them affirmed in another venue. But there is such a high value on uniformity within the Communion leadership, that there is no room for difference. Individuals who do not fit are stifled. GLBT persons do not fit the mold, defined in formulations about sin. People who question do not fit the mold, defined in dogmas and “unchanging truths.”

Kingdom Catholics value diversity, inclusion of all differences, openness to the world of differences. The building of the Kingdom is a process of relating to difference in mutual love and cooperation, difficult as it may be. They believe that the Spirit of God is in every person and in the community of persons. The question arises for them: Why is reverence and respect for God in the Blessed Sacrament more important than reverence and respect for God in other humans?

Is there any way for these two mindsets to work together? Radcliffe suggests that each has to empathize with the other’s needs for belonging, affirmation, contribution. Each has to have a home in the Church.

Maybe if a person is self reflective at all, or aware of the human dynamics in community, he or she cannot be a “just plain” Catholic. Or maybe a “just plain” Catholic is one who, with either Communion or Kingdom leanings, has a spirituality deep enough to accept and value the other.

We would like to hear your ideas about these questions and if and how the polarization can be healed. Sign up for a Google account and leave us a comment.

See also the previous post:
Civil Discourse. In Church? - Charles Pilon (Progressive Catholic Voice, January 5, 2009).