In his book Catholic Matters the late Fr. Richard John Neuhaus, a Catholic convert, priest and preeminent American writer, talks about Catholicism as a new “discovery” for him. He points out that, in contrast, for many of his cradle Catholic friends the Church wasn’t a journey ahead but a place from which one merely begins.
Neuhaus had noticed that:
Catholics of a certain age—those who can speak from personal experience about “the pre-Vatican II Church”—have tales beyond numbering of the real or imagined instances of oppression, hypocrisy, pious pettiness, and intolerable constraints.
Dissent from official teachings—typically from teachings that do not sit well with surrounding culture, and most typically from teachings touching on sexuality—is taken to be a mark of growing up. The disposition is: “Yes, I am Catholic but I think for myself.”
But then he reminds us:
Faithful assent is not a matter of standing to attention, clicking one’s heels, and saluting at the appearance of every document from Rome. Rather, it is a matter of thinking for myself so that I can think with the Church, the prior assumption being that the Church possesses a teaching charism and authority that warrants my assent.
I think for myself not to come up with my own teaching but to make the Church’s teaching my own.
That is not always easy to do. People say they have difficulty with one teaching or another. That is not necessarily the problem. The problem arises when we assume that the problem is with the teaching and not with ourselves.
This blog was created to explore how Catholic teaching and “ourselves” intersect in the world today. As I’m sure you’ve guessed by now, this blog will deal specifically with teachings that do not sit well with our popular culture, like those that touch on marriage and sexuality.
And yes, we’ll talk about the Minnesota Marriage Protection Amendment quite a bit. The reason being that the Marriage Protection Amendment Minnesotans we will be voting on in November 2012 has caused a bunch of angst, confusion and hostility about the perceived Catholic teaching on sexuality and marriage to bubble up to the surface.
Contributors are Catholic men and women, some have same-sex attraction, some are single, some are married, some are lay and some are religious. Actually, you could call most of us the proverbial “Catholics in the pews” who want to explain what we as Catholics believe and why we believe it.
Our beliefs remain rooted in love, not hate, rationality, not religious fundamentalism, freedom, not oppression. If you just read that and said, “Ha, yeah right” and then mumbled a bunch of expletives directed at me and our Church, then I humbly invite you to stick around. You may be surprised at what you find.