Monday, April 21, 2008

Unhappy Campers! I Mean, Unhappy Catholics

Theology students extol pope's pastoral gifts but say change unlikely
By Chris Herlinger
An excerpt.
Jeremy Kirk, 30, a master of arts candidate at Union, plans to pursue a doctorate in Christian ethics focusing on the work of Jesuit Father Jon Sobrino, a Latin American liberation theologian. Kirk gave measured praise to Pope Benedict's pastoral outreach to those who survived clergy sexual abuse. "I see he's doing the right thing pastorally," said Kirk, whose social activism includes volunteering with the Catholic Worker Movement. "The apology (Pope) Benedict offered impressed me. But it would have been more powerful if every person involved in an institutional cover-up (of clergy sex abuse) would be ousted from office."

The pope remains a symbol of a hierarchy "that has failed the victims," Kirk said, adding that he believed media coverage of the pope's visit was focusing too much on Pope Benedict's pastoral image rather than on what Kirk said was the pope's potent political symbolism. "If the pope had gone to the nearest soup kitchen after arriving and (President) Bush had been the third person, rather than the first person, he had met, I'd be happier," said Kirk.

Catholic students are a minority at Union but one of the largest single denominational groups at the predominantly Protestant school. Although Union is still perhaps best-known for being the midcentury intellectual home of such leading Protestant theologians as Reinhold Niebuhr (American Socialist) and Paul Tillich, since the 1970s the school has been known as a leading center of study in the United States for black and feminist liberation theologies. The prominent black theologian James Cone, for example, has taught at Union for more than three decades. But Union also has had a long tradition of hosting well-known Catholics.

Liberation theologians such as Peruvian Dominican Father Gustavo Gutierrez have taught for short terms at Union, which has ties with Columbia University. Catholic scholars not associated with liberation theology, including the late biblical scholar Sulpician Father Raymond Brown, (troublesome, read link) have also been permanent faculty at Union.

Of the current five full-time Catholic faculty members at Union, three are women. Union's current Catholic faculty includes Jesuit Father Roger Haight, whose book, "Jesus Symbol of God," (contains grave doctrinal errors) was sharply criticized by the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith when it was headed by then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict. The Vatican has banned Father Haight from teaching at a Catholic institution.

Another Roman Catholic theologian who has had trouble with the Vatican is Paul F. Knitter, currently Union's Paul Tillich professor of theology, world religions and culture.

Kirk told Catholic News Service April 20 that Union was lucky to have scholars like Father Haight and Knitter on the faculty, adding that the student view of Pope Benedict at Union is colored in large part by the pope's relationship with them, with figures like Father Sobrino and by Pope Benedict's past criticism of liberation theology. For her part, Harris -- a Catholic who used to be Presbyterian --

said her concern about church reform, specifically the need to expand the eligibility for clergy to include noncelibate men and women, is coming out of real and "lived experience."

Catholic women at Union share a commissioning service as a tribute to their work and also as a formal recognition that they cannot be ordained as clergy within their church. Harris said she would like to be ordained if she could be, though she doubts that her ineligibility will change in her lifetime. Still, she added, "We never thought we'd see altar girls and now we do have altar girls."

Link (here)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Guttierez received ashes last year by BXVI himself.
The pope condemned "some" aspects of liberation theology, never condemned THE LIBERATION THEOLOGY, on the contrary.

Did you ever read Guttierez's book? Try it is a very good book.