On Mutual Respect
Here are some snippets:
Mutual respect is not about playing down differences. Rather, it is about giving serious consideration to our differences and disagreements and working through them. It is about pursuing common goals in a constructive spirit of engagement - even when many differences remain.
Mutual respect is the lifeblood of democracy. It allows you and me to pursue our own happiness also for the benefit of our fellow human beings. It allows even fierce adversaries to seek common ground.
Think about the great champions of democracy and freedom. Mahatma Gandhi. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Lech Walesa. They hated unjust laws and institutions. And they fought with all their might to overthrow them. But they never acted hatefully in confronting their adversaries.
Alas, these are not the best of times for mutual respect. We are witnessing a steady erosion of respect for the opinions of others and for the institutions and democratic traditions that have helped to safeguard life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
The signs of disrespect are all around us. In the ferocious assault on the judiciary. In the shrill debate over Terri Schiavo. And worst of all, in the hateful, ad hominem attacks that issue daily from radio and TV talk shows.
We are living in a smash-mouth culture in which extremists dominate public debate to the point of hijacking it. You cannot have a reasoned discussion about abortion when one side is slandered as "baby-killers" and the other side is smeared as "religious wingnuts."
And so it goes. Well, it goes because secular political polarization has entered the ecclesial realm. This speech shouldn't be relevant in the church context, and it's really sad that it is, but hopefully we can all bring something away from it.
Also, there's this from Ken Briggs in today's Philly Inquirer -- a take on possible fissures in the Catholic/Evangelical "GOP is Lord" alliance. The article even links to Dominus Iesus. Good stuff.
The Second Vatican Council strove courageously in the 1960s to grant a degree of parity to other churches, referring to them as "sisters" and granting that they had, at least, elements of the truth contained in full within Catholicism. Pope John XXIII stepped off the pedestal and became everybody's favorite grandfather. Pope Paul VI gave up wearing the papal crown and being carried on a litter in an effort to play down, somewhat, the royal, elevated nature of the papacy.
Under John Paul II, the modest attempts at narrowing the gap between Protestants and Catholics were put on hold, though the Pope carried on cordial relations with non-Catholic leaders. He was a strong leader who had a rather "high" view of the papacy. He invited other Christians to help rethink the papacy for modern times, but the project never sailed. He also wrote that "there can be only one communion. Either you are in communion with the church or you are not."
Evangelicals and Catholics have a lot to resolve, as people who do care about theology. They can picket a stem-cell clinic together, but half cannot take Holy Communion in a Catholic church. The other half may attend Mass every day but will not be considered "born again" by fellow protesters.
As always, discussion is open. Read up, hope everyone's well. Keep those cards and e.mails coming.
Una buona domenica a tutti!