Thursday, March 31, 2011
Here's John Allen, weighing in on the Lautsi case, which has already been mentioned several times here at MOJ. He writes, of the decision:
The outcome could recalibrate Catholic attitudes towards secularism at the gut level, providing a powerful boost for the “open door” approach. For bonus points, it’s also generated fresh ecumenical and inter-faith momentum … not bad for a day’s work. . . .
The decision represents a victory for the view that when faced with what seems like incomprehension and hostility, the best response is to make arguments rather than to hurl anathemas. Especially at a time when Benedict XVI has called for a “New Evangelization” in the West -- which sort of presumes an “open door” psychology -- that’s no small thing. . .
Now, I agree that arguments are to be preferred, as a vehicle for engagement, to anathemas, but -- with all due respect to Allen, who certainly knows the lay of the Church's land better than I do -- this comparison felt a bit forced to me, a bit aimed at a straw-man. It's not been my (limited) experience that many serious Catholics -- "conservative" or "liberal" -- insist that, no, best just to not engage and to instead "hurl anathemas." More "in play", it seems to me, is the disagreement between those who want to engage, in arguments (not anathemas), on certain sensitive / divisive / controversial issues with respect to which the Church's teachings are something of a scandal, and those who think that arguments about such matters should be shelved, and common ground sought elsewhere. It seems to me that the answer to this disagreement is (something like) "both"; that is, look for (through arguments, not anathemas), find, and enjoy common ground wherever it is to be had but also propose uncomfortable and challenging truths (again, in and through arguments).