Monday, July 27, 2009
[In his weekly column, Notre Dame theologian Fr. Richard McBrien writes:]
Terrence Tilley is chair of the Department of Theology at Fordham University and immediate past president of the Catholic Theological Society of America.
In his presidential address at the recent Catholic Theological Society of America convention in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Tilley spoke of the negative effects of the "stalemate" or "impasses" that currently afflict the Catholic church (for the full text, "Three Impasses in Christology," see Origins 6/25/09).
The three ecclesial impasses are "a shrinking and in some places demoralized presbyterate that cannot be enlarged significantly under present rules, a laity that loves the church but has stopped listening to the bishops and a hard-working and loyal body of religious women who are disgusted and discouraged by repeated investigations of religious life and attempted reversals of self-governance."
Some of the bishops, Tilley observed, have tried "to work through these difficult impasses," but others prefer to ignore them. Still others make these even worse by following the example of "the vigilantes of the political and religious right by making noisy attacks on Catholic institutions of higher education."
Was Tilley perhaps thinking of the criticisms voiced by many bishops this spring against the University of Notre Dame for inviting President Barack Obama to deliver this year's Commencement address and to receive an honorary degree?
Tilley also expressed concern about the large numbers of Catholics who have simply drifted away from the church, according to last year's survey by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life. He speculated that this "may be the response to stalemate in church."
[You can read the rest here.]