A renaissance of faith, reason and global cooperation....
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By Hugh McNichol
Benedict XVI is very much on target when he indicates there is an educational crisis going on in the world today. The crisis is symptomatic of increasing secularism and increasing religious polarities that exist within the realms of all nations and beliefs. However, there is such a positive aspect to his call to recognize this crisis, namely the opportunity to educate and evangelize within and outside of our own Catholic faith. Education in the Catholic faith entails introspective evangelization as part of our living and active Catholic faith. Many times, we have heard the story of ...the painter's house...that needed to be painted; or the carpenter's door, that awkwardly squeaked and so on.
The same holds true of our Catholic faith, sometimes we neglect to remember that development in the depths of Catholicism also requires constant nourishing and educational refreshment. That pursuit is not always easily accomplished in our increasingly complex, and hurriedly paced world. Routine and daily activities often take precedence in our lives, simply because we permit these activities to take center stage. The pontiff's teaching and admonition is very clear...take time not only to faithfully educate yourself on the nuances of the Catholic faith, but take time to prayerfully restore and renew all aspects of Catholic education in a holistic lifestyle of faith.
Perhaps as an institution we ourselves as a Church have permitted this educational and therefore "crisis" of faith just by our own design. Catholic religious education in the 18th-20th centuries was a mixture of not only fragmented educational points, but a ministry that sometimes neglected to impart a fully integrated and sacramental global view of all of our Sacraments and beliefs. What I find quite interesting is despite our differences within the Catholic Church, internally and with other faiths...these differences of theological opinions and religious expression are what provides common ground for religious evangelization and ecumenical dialogue. This week, the Universal Church is celebrating the call to universal Christian unity...how appropriate then that the Holy Father should advocate a reexamination of our common differences and similarities in this educational crisis.
In the past week or so, there has been quite a fervor regarding Benedict's decision not to visit Rome's Sapienza University. That fervor has turned into an outpouring of support for Benedict XVI and indeed the Church's desire for positive dialogue regarding all aspects of the integration of Catholicism in the modern world. While the situation at the Roman University was perhaps unfortunate to say the least, it did indicate the need on both sides of the academic community the necessity of tolerance for the freedom of expression and speech for Benedict XVI and indeed Catholics worldwide. At the same time, this event presents a unique opportunity for all faithful believers to come into a new era of ecumenical dialogue and prayerful reflection about the factors that unite all of humanity, regardless of creed or culture.
Recently, the Holy See has strongly been a strong endorsee of the global needs that are of environmental concern. Such strong advocacy of this truly global problem indicates the willingness of Benedict XVI to focus Catholic attention on matters that call for more of a response than one that is theologically or sectarian motivated by our Catholic creed. It seems very clear to this author, that the Catholic Church is indeed entering a period of renewed and perhaps restored global participation that has the central focus on the dignity of man and respect for all of God's creation. Such an integrated theosophical and institutional proclamation will indeed begin to radically eliminate any crisis, educational, political or theological.
To coin a phrase...we are experiencing a new Benedictine integration of faith and reason in our ever shrinking global village.
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