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Fr. Charles Curran's keynote address (Mon Nov 27, 2006 7:09 pm)

Fr. Curran made the keynote address on the occasion of the Hans Kung Award for the Rights of Catholics in the Church awarded to Archbishop Jean Jadot at the Foundry United Methodist Church in Washington, DC on November 17, 2006.

This is a synopsis of his remarks, and a complete transcription will appear in a future edition of ARCC LIGHT.

The presentation had three parts.

"PILGRIM PEOPLE IN A PILGRIM CHURCH: Is there Hope for the Catholic Church?"

Part I - Reversal of VATICAN II
The teachings of the Second Vatican Council is being reversed. Clear evidence of this is found in the fact that discussion is no longer encouraged on such matters as sexuality, contraception, homosexuality, women's ordination and celibacy in favor of the definitive pre-Vatican II positions. The issue of clergy sexual abuse and the cover-up by bishops is re-establishing a closed, secret, and unaccountable mode of operating in the Church as it was 50 years ago.

The response to the current priest shortage is to hearken back to the era before Vatican II in an attempt to re-create the same spiritual and social environment that fostered so many vocations. The emergence of women's issues in the Church correlates with the decline in religious vocations which in turn has contributed greatly to current crisis in Catholic education. As a result a returned to cloistered and veiled nuns is sought. Above all, the issue of Church authority is key. An educated, and now outraged, laity is questioning the secrecy and unaccountability in way the Church operates and even the authority of the Church itself. The absolute authority of Popes, bishops, and priests is being challenged by knowledgeable decisions of an informed conscience.

Part II - Hope for the Church
Prognostication is always a tricky endeavor. But there is hope.
True hope is not a longing for something that is not known. True hope must always be a longing for what we know should be. Dissent has been in the Church from the beginning. Look no further than the very first days of the early Church as described in the Gospels, the Acts of the Apostles and the letters of Paul and John to fully appreciate the tensions that have been, and always will be, alive and well in the Church. There is a life-giving spirit in the tensions that generally accompanies love for one another. While it is good to hope for what we know should be, it is well to remember that its fullness will never be achieved here.

Part III - Spirituality in the Struggle - Signs of Hope
1. The Church is a mediator: It reminds us that humans are good and beloved of God who comes to us through a hurting Church community with all its problems. We are not alone, we belong.
2. The Church is not a volunteer society. It is THE way to God. Do not look elsewhere.
3. There is UNITY and DIVERSITY in the Church. It has the core of the truths of faith, but also has a hierarchy of truths, some more important than others: In essential things - Unity (the Creed), In doubtful things - Freedom (here is where the sparks fly),
In all things - Charity (respect and kindness is a must)
4. We are a Pilgrim Church: We are a sinful people and belong to a sinful Church. The Marks of the Church are five: One, Holy Catholic, Apostolic, and Sinful.
5. We are not a fundamentalist Church, nor strictly a biblical Church. We have a Pope:
Scripture AND Tradition, Authority AND Truth, Truth THEN Authority.
6. Authority in our Church must conform to the truth. The Holy Spirit uses both the Magisterium and the People to reveal the truth, and truth must come before authority.
7. Church structure has changed many times over the centuries. Changes in the structure and administration of the Church must acknowledge the essential principle of subsidiarity and the technological realities of present-day communications.
8. We are companions in the struggle. We cannot do it alone, yet each is to do what is possible.


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(Bishop Geoffrey Robinson in converation with Dr Ingrid Shafer)

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