Tuesday, August 18, 2009

A Point of View . . .

By Charles Pilon

July 16, 2009, the morning after the
first Joint Meeting of the Work/Study Groups
for the Catholic Coalition for Church Reform’s
2010 Synod, Archdiocese of St. Paul-Minneapolis

A point of view – a personal strategy – born of nagging uncertainty about how we will “change the policies and practices that hold our own community back from being fully alive” . . . and effectively dialogue “about what changes can be made on a diocesan level to make the church of St. Paul and Minneapolis a sacrament of God’s life” – this when some of our hoped-for partners in dialogue have already named us apostates.

Yet, I embrace the Declaration Against Resignation, trusting a Divine Spirit who moves, at least partly, based on what I contribute to a process. For my part, I will . . .

- live in the moment.

- come to terms with the likelihood that 1) just some, 2) only a few, 3) none of my fondest dreams and hopes for the Church will be realized before I die.

- in the meantime, talk civilly and presume and honor the integrity of those with whom I dialogue. No winning.

- find / develop within myself a sense of humor about Church reform.

- come to terms with (i.e., seek and embrace the difficult conversion necessary to adopt) the thinking of Hans Küng, Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel and Cardinal Franz Joseph Koenig on inter/intra faith dialogue.

Küng (as described by James Carroll in Practicing Catholic, pp. 281 – 283):

Dialogue is more than mere civility. . . . Authentic religious dialogue happens when a believing person who encounters the different beliefs of someone else inevitably winds up reexamining the foundation of his[/her] own beliefs. . . . Dialogue becomes the self–critical examination of one’s own dogma and tradition in the presence of the other, and in the light of the other’s experience and belief. . . . Ultimately, dialogue calls for the “investigation of foundations.”

Heschel (as quoted by Carroll, p. 281):

The most significant basis for the meeting of men [and women] of different religious traditions is the level of fear and trembling, of humility and contrition, where our individual moments of faith are mere waves in the endless ocean of . . . reaching out for God, where all formulations and articulations appear as understatements, where our souls are swept away, stripped of pretensions and conceit. We sense then the tragic insufficiency of human faith. God is greater than religion.

Koenig (in dialogue with Jesuit theologian Jacques Dupuis, National Catholic Reporter, 3.21.08):

Genuine dialogue must be honest. There must be no ulterior motives. Of course, each partner has an aim. It’s not meant to be a pointless chat, after all. The aim is to convince one’s partner of the soundness of one’s arguments. But the opposite also applies. One must equally be prepared to allow oneself to be convinced of the soundness of one’s partner’s arguments – one must want to gain an insight into them. Dialogue is not an attempt to persuade or convert – the aim is to get to know your partner and why he or she believes what they do.

Chuck Pilon
July 16, 2009

Charles Pilon is the author of Waiting for Mozart: A Novel about Church People Caught in Conflict. The novel illustrates the daily struggle to realize the vision of Vatican II when the pastor and the active members of a large suburban Catholic parish do not agree on whose Church it is. Can they compose a harmonious community through the fine art of dialogue? To learn more about Waiting for Mozart and how to purchase a copy, click here.

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