Recently, John Allen spoke at DePaul’s Center for World Catholicism and Intercultural Theology on The Discourse of Catholicity.
In it, he suggests the need to rebuild zones of friendship in the church especially in light of tensions regarding Catholic identity and battles regarding orthodoxy. There is on-going polarization over how to and who gets to define Catholic identity. Catholic identity is not only a top-down proposition, but the younger generations with a sense of “evangelical Catholicism” are making it a bottom-up challenge as well.
Allen suggests that it is very counter-cultural to build relationships across ideological divisions these days, especially in a parish community, which often comes across as an ecclesiological “gated community.” Finally, in our default position to recognize bishops in these matters as the cause of, and the solution to, all our problems. That’s not even true!
Finally, Allen points towards three organizations where east illustrate that it’s . “zone of friendship” seems possible; the Focolare movement, the Salt and Light network in Canada, and the “Catholic Voices” project in the United Kingdom. Their cross-pollination produced a sort of “hybrid vigor,” allowing these outfits to accomplish aims that would likely exceed the resources of any one tribe acting on its own. Moreover, nobody in authority launched these projects, but nobody got in their way either.
The article is worth a thoughtful read. Two years ago, we (as in Kristin Witte) discussed this in our Youth Contact meetings. The challenges remains. How are you crossing lines in your parish and diocese?