Vol 39 No 2
POPE BENEDICT XVI
A PAPAL CONDOLENCE MOTION
Costelloe SDB PRIESTHOOD IN THE THEOLOGY OF JOHN PAUL II
LEARNING NEW WAYS OF EVANGELISING
BELONGING, COMMUNITY, AND THE CHURCH: Some Theological and Pastoral Reflections
THE TRINITY'S FIRST CREATION THE CHURCH: An Orthodox Bishop's Appreciation
Of The West's Greatest Father Of The Church
CONTEMPLATIVE MISSIONARY SPIRITUALITY: The Way of the Heart
THE CHURCH AS AGENT OF HOPE: What can Religious Faith Contribute to Life
in Contemporary Australia?
A NEW CATHOLIC SOCIAL MANIFESTO? The Compendium Of The Social Doctrine
Of The Church
RICHARD LENNAN, "RISKING THE CHURCH. THE CHALLENGES OF CATHOLIC FAITH"
Church as agent of hope:
What can religious faith contribute to life in contemporary Australia?
MARK RAPER SJ
THOSE WHO ARE separated from a society can help us to understand that
society. Refugees, by definition, have been rejected by society, and my
reflections on society tonight will begin with their perspectives. Indigenous
Australians also experience a separation from the society that inhabits
their land, and so their experience and perceptions can reveal much about
Speaking here in the Catholic Institute about religious faith, one may
assume that we refer principally to our own tradition of belief within
the Catholic Church. Yet faith may be considered not so much as a set
of concepts or beliefs, but rather as the disposition and attitude that
committed, converted, and loving people hold towards others and towards
the Other. This living faith is provoked and revealed in many of the ordinary
encounters that each of us experience even in our day-to-day living. Living
faith is the light that guides the commitments we make out of love. In
commenting on the interrelationship between faith and our culture, I will
draw from Catholic social teaching, in particular the Second Vatican Council
which spoke so richly about engagement in the modern world.
May I recall one conversation with a refugee, which was a moment of insight
for me, and may help to inform our reflection on the interaction between
faith and society.
Throughout the 1990s, while I lived in Rome, I helped to set up and to
monitor Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) teams in front line humanitarian
situations across the world. We worked, for example, in the Balkans, with
a program in Sarajevo throughout that period of intense conflict. In the
early 1990s, the fighting raging in Bosnia-Herzegovina was of such ferocity
that the United Nations (UN) created several enclaves or 'safe areas'.
We now know that this policy was a disastrous failure, since the UN and
NATO were not prepared to protect these enclaves. One enclave was at Srebrenica
where 7,500 Muslims were slaughtered, another at Zefa, and a third, near
the town of Velika Kladusa, was referred to as the Bihac pocket. This
territory in the north of Bosnia, holding 180,000 people, was wedged between
the secessionist Serbian controlled Krajina region of Croatia, and Bosnian
Serb territory, and accordingly between the Croatian Serb army and the
Bosnian Serb militia. The Bihac leader, Fikret Abdic, was either installed
by the Serbs or had done a deal with the Serbs in order to keep the Bihac
pocket safe. When the Bosnians finally took control of the Bihac pocket
in August 1995, Abdic and the other leaders did deals and left to safety
elsewhere, but a large group of people crossed into Croatia and lived
for several years in a refugee camp of tents. Our JRS team, young German
and Croatian men and women volunteers, went to assist them and set up
a primary school and many other activities.
When I visited the camp about 18 months later, in early 1997, the number
of refugees had diminished to a couple of thousand, since those who could
had slipped home, and the most acceptable refugees had been selected for
resettlement in third countries. The agencies assisting them were also
reduced to just the Red Crescent Society and ourselves, the Jesuit Refugee
Service. The teachers at the little school prepared a lunch, at the end
of which, the principal of the school, whom I shall call Vildana, a blue-eyed
and fair-haired Muslim woman, said to me: 'When all those people and agencies
came to help us in the beginning, the last group that I expected to stay
with us Muslims was the Jesus Refugee Service. Now I see that not only
did you stay with us, but you love us.'
Somewhat foolishly I replied: 'But is it not true that we are brothers
and sisters, and do we not have the same Father, the same God?' Vildana
looked at me, or rather through me, for what seemed like five minutes,
as she digested this. Finally, and with immense surprise, she concluded:
'Yes!' It was a radiant moment of warmth in an environment created by
years of betrayal, terror and distrust.
What gave Vildana, after all the violence, terror and betrayal that she
had lived through, much of it at the hands of Christians, whether they
be Orthodox Serbians or Catholic Croatians, the ability to recognise that
our Christian God could be any match for her great God, her Allah Akbar?
Only the lived faith, which means faith in practice, the constant love
of those young volunteers who stayed with her people, could give this
experience of solidarity. The volunteers were attentive to the needs perceived
by the refugees themselves. Through daily encounters and conversation
they became kindred spirits with one another. Once the normal barriers
had been broken down by meeting face to face in trust, a new realisation
was possible. Surprise enables new connections, gives new hope and energy,
and introduces a readiness for change.
Australian Society: Experiences of Separation
Let me reflect on society seen from Vildana's perspective. Invariably,
as for Vildana and her group, an experience of violence is at the beginning
of a refugee's journey. If not always physically violent, the refugee
experience is an experience of rejection. The refugees and displaced are
often made the scapegoats for the ills of society. Though they are the
victims, they are the most identifiable features of a social disorder,
they are a nuisance. Somehow they are blamed and held responsible for
many social inconveniences.
Zygmunt Bauman in his recent book, Wasted Lives: Modernity and its Outcasts1
makes the connection between refugees and the societies that produce them.
He speaks of the production of human waste, or more precisely 'wasted
humans' as the inevitable outcome of modernization. The drive for economic
progress and building of a human order devoted to economic development,
leaves these people as the cast-offs, discarded, thrown-away lives. Forced
by rejection to leave their own country, refugees and immigrants are also
frequently the scapegoats for problems of the society which hosts them.
So let us turn to Australian society. And let us begin with the contemporary
scapegoats, those corresponding to ancient societies in which they chose
a victim, loaded their problems on it, and killed or drove out that victim.
By separating itself from the problem, the society sought to remain in
peace. In last year's Manning Clark lecture, Judy Davis remarks that separation
has long been an Australian way of dealing with problems,2
Separation by sea and by force was the foundation upon which the colony
of misfits, the colony of the unwanted, was built. The nail in almost
every coffin of the convicts was the fact that they were never likely
to return to England. It's not surprising that we have re-visited the
theme of separation as though it were the panacea for any social problem
that might come our way. From the stolen generations of Aboriginal children,
to the Pacific solution for asylum seekers, we appear to be congenitally
pre-disposed to the medicinal benefits of isolation. But building walls
of legislation to protect our island has never worked. Our history is
pock-marked with attempts at 'border protection', that sombre term which
hides a plethora of racist attitudes.
Our indigenous people repeat the example of Vildana. Despite all the atrocities
they have experienced since European settlement, they have survived and
maintained their humanity. Despite massacres, stolen land, enforced separation,
brutal discrimination, they have sustained their belief in connection
and its power. Yet they have reached out the hand of friendship and they
keep on, 'longing for the things we have always longed forrespect
Miriam Rose Ungunmerr speaks about this invitation with exquisite poignancy,
We hope that the people of Australia will wait. Not so much waiting
for usbut waiting with us as we find our way in the world. My people
are used to the struggle and the long waiting. We still wait for the white
people to understand us better.4
Asylum seekers also live the story of Vildana in their own lives. They
are scapegoats. Politicians' approaches to control of borders and immigration
reveal a coldness of heart towards the relatively small number of asylum
seekers who arrived on our shores. Boundaries are maintained around Australia
and simultaneously around our hearts. The blame which immigrants are made
to carry is out of all proportion, or is simply a ruse, a deception. The
few thousand Iraqis and Afghans who reached Australia were spoken of as
an 'invasion'. Seeing no choice but to leave their home country, increasing
numbers become more desperate and seek clandestine ways to reach a safe
Bishop Eugene Hurley of Port Pirie, who regularly makes pastoral visits
to Baxter, put his finger on the debilitating effect of such policies,
'The policy is toxic. Everyone who comes into contact with it gets sick.'
He further describes it as making '
prisoners of everyone. I am
afraid that we will look back at this chapter in the history of our nation
with the same sadness, shame and regret as the White Australia policy.'
Australia is, as Arnold Zable describes, a nation of immigrants and indigenous
people. 'A new world with an ancient past. A grand symphony with many
melodies.'5 Of our 20 million people, almost a quarter were born overseas.
We speak around 200 languages in our homes.6 Over the last 30 years, those
claiming Christianity has fallen from 96% to around 70% while there are
now 3 to 4 times the number of Hindus, Buddhists and Muslims.7 Multicultural
society offers a challenge; we must lose a part of what is familiar in
order to embrace the unknown, and to become larger as a consequence. Yet
the legacy of 'White Australia' appears to still be a force in our nation's
life. There is a yearning by some for when Australia comprised less varied
cultural backgrounds, a yearning, as Robyn Nevin in her Australia Day
Address described it, for '...an altogether neater time'.8
The forces in contemporary Australian life are those affecting other developed
nations. For most Australians, things seem to be going well. Economic
growth has been steady at around 4% per annum. There have been constant
promises of a higher quality of life. But economic globalisation has also
meant that Australia, along with most industrialised societies, has been
significantly restructured, leading to perceptions of social breakdown.
Urban centres may have benefited, but rural and regional communities have
suffered and feel neglected. Health and education systems are seen to
be in crisis. Urban crime is said to have grown out of control.
Social change often generates a feeling of uncertainty. The major political
parties lose credibility. Indeed there is a crisis of trust in leadership
of all forms, politicians, sports persons, church leaders. This is serious:
As Confucius told his disciple Tsze-kung, three things are needed for
government: weapons, food and trust. If a ruler cannot hold on to all
three, he should give up weapons first and the food next. Trust should
be guarded until the end, '...without trust we cannot stand.'
Australia is profoundly affected by the spread of a global culture of
efficiency. Thomas Merton considered efficiency to be the major spiritual
disease in the western world. It leaves little energy for much else. The
speed and scope of communication technology, central to modern culture,
has transformed our human consciousness - our way of thinking, how we
perceive time and space, how we relate to others. The result is that many
prefer change to stability, would value the new rather than the old, tomorrow
rather than yesterday.9 Excessive energy is consumed in maintaining efficiency,
leaving little space for hope. Moreover, look at our suicide rate, the
incidence of alcoholism and drug addiction, the incidence of boredom and
of what might be called starvation of the spirit.
In brief, we do find in Australia the deceit of separation, the failure
of trust, the distortion of truth. To find healing, we need to return
to the story of Vildana and ask where we can be led to surprise, solidarity,
hope and energy, and who can be the agents of that hope? I believe the
Church can be an agent of hope.
Religious Faith and Society
To be an agent of hope, the Church itself needs to be surprised and energised.
We find energy when we acknowledge our limitations and recognise the problems
we face. As a Church, we are liberated when we acknowledge our mistakes
and the harm we have done. When we seek to reconcile the estranged, the
stolen generations, the exiles, the survivors of sexual abuse, the Church
itself is surprised, it is transformed, becomes inclusive, respectful,
and closer to its gospel imperatives.
Surprise leads to solidarity. In faith, we know Christ as the victim,
who invites us to identify with the victim, a stance which will sometimes
disturb the peace. But Jesus does not come to bring the peace that comes
through being able to blame someone or something else. The Christian's
stand for peace acknowledges truth, includes all, and by preference stands
by the weakest. Indeed it is in the face of those like Vildana, those
who have been victims, that we can discover the truth in all its beauty.
That commitment to '... accompany people, in different contexts, as they
and their culture make difficult transitions'10 applies to the presence
of people of religious faith in the fields of scientific research, in
discussions on bio-ethics, as also to the presence of those young German
and Croatian volunteers with Vildana and her fellow refugees who escaped
the Bihac pocket and took refuge in Croatian Krajina. It is a model for
the role of religious faith in contemporary Australian society. This practical
faith is reflected not just in Christian organisations, but also in simple
actions of individual Christians.
John Paul II's word for accompaniment is solidarity. Solidarity concerns
a fundamental vision that we are born into a web of social relationships,
that our humanity ties all people to one another, that the Gospel consecrates
those ties, and that the prophets and all of Scripture tell us that the
way we honour those ties is the test of authenticity of our faith.
Solidarity... is not a vague feeling of compassion, or shallow distress
at the misfortunes of so many people, both near and far. On the contrary,
it is a firm and persevering determination to commit oneself to the common
good; that is to say to the good of all and of each individual, because
we are all really responsible for all.11
The Church That can Offer Hope to Society
When we move from the living of faith to reflection on it, we are soon
led to discern the relationship between secular culture and belief. It
is a complex relationship. In the experience of Vildana, it involves the
relationships between the Christian volunteers, the Muslim Vildana, and
the world whose enmities and whose generosities brought them all together.
Reflecting on that story, we can attempt to identify what factors might
lead any of us, within our own social contexts, to surprise, solidarity,
energy and the desire for change. Speaking abstractly about faith and
culture means to ask about the conditions under which lived faith can
provoke solidarity, can enable surprise, can give energy, and can lead
to change. These after all are contributions that lived religious faith
offers to any contemporary society.
St John saw a contradiction between the demands of 'this world' and the
demands of faith. At times secular society has been broadly supportive
of religious faith, for example during Europe's age of Christendom. Modern
secular society, including contemporary Australia, tends to be alien to
faith. How do we act in the face of this tension?
Let us go back to October 1958, when an elderly Italian peasant, Angelo
Roncalli, dressed in white, climbed up on to the throne of Peter and beamed
on the world with warmth, good humour and kindness. It seemed a new era:
for the first time for 200 years, humanity was introduced into Church
leadership. He himself was a surprise and he gave new energy to the Church
and to the world.
John XXIII called the Second Vatican Council. On the penultimate day of
the Second Vatican Council, four documents were promulgated. The last
two of them, Gaudium et Spes (The Pastoral Constitution on the Church
in the Modern World) and Dignitatis Humanae (The Declaration on Religious
Freedom), constitute arguably, the high water mark of the Catholic Church's
efforts to come to terms with the modern world. They were the Council's
endeavour to read the 'signs of the times', and to address finally the
ideals and aspirations of the French Revolutionliberty, equality,
fraternitythe history of the Industrial Revolution and of the Enlightenment,
the separation of Church and State, and the evolution of new patterns
of authority and community.
Since that high tide, the waters have ebbed and flowed. Vatican II launched
the Church into a complex dialogue with the modern secular world. The
period since has been perceived very differently by different people within
the Church, by some as a period of hope and development, and by others
as a period of disintegration.12 Some have hankered after a clerical Catholic
But Gaudium et Spes continues to call the Church to dialogue and openness
to social and political pluralism, to service and the recognition of the
dignity of all people, to insistence on international cooperation and
to hope in the future of the human family. It invites us to a conversation
modelled on Paul's address on the Areopagus. He was appalled by the idolatry
that he witnessed, but he did not attack that, he looked for the good
there, using the philosophy of the time, and he drew his listeners to
If we are embarrassed or depressed by reactionary elements in the Church,
it is inspiring to return to the liberating text of the Pastoral Constitution
of the Church in the Modern World. For example in Chapter III it speaks
of human activity throughout the world, and specifically to the autonomy
of science and technology,
...whoever labours to penetrate the secrets of reality with a humble
and steady mind, even though he is unaware of the fact, is nevertheless
being led by the hand of God, who holds all things in existence, and gives
them their identity. Consequently, we cannot but deplore certain habits
of mind, which are sometimes found too among Christians, which do not
sufficiently attend to the rightful independence of science and which,
from the arguments and controversies they spark, lead many minds to conclude
that faith and science are mutually opposed.13
As the horrific wars of our time demonstrate, and as the lives of the
refugees teach us, and as our own failings in life bring home to us, we
are engaged in a struggle between good and evil in our lives and in our
time. This is not the simplistic presentation of one empire, the coalition
of the willing, against some other sinister force. The struggle runs through
human hearts. As The Church in the Modern World says,
For a monumental struggle against the powers of darkness pervades the
whole history of man. The battle was joined from the very origins of the
world and will continue until the last day, as the Lord has attested.
Caught in this conflict, man is obliged to wrestle constantly if he is
to cling to what is good... That is why Christ's Church... acknowledges
that human progress can serve man's true happiness, yet she cannot help
echoing the Apostle's warning: 'Be not conformed to this world' (Rom 12:2).
By the world is here meant that spirit of vanity and malice which transforms
into an instrument of sin those human energies intended for the service
of God and man.14
The contest between modernity and fundamentalism that we witness in the
response to the Vatican II teaching is characteristic of societies around
the world. In our Australian society, not just in our Church, the thrust
towards modernity is being challenged by various forms of fundamental
conservatism. In more conservative cultures, patterns of imposed fundamentalism
are being challenged by a forward-looking hunger for more liberal solutions.
'The aspiration... is to seek, not polarisation, but organic growth, and
to see the movement from ancient certainties into the world of modern
complexities as a necessary pilgrimage of growth.' 15 Vatican II moved
simultaneously in two directions, backwards to our sources and roots,
and forwards towards the challenges of modernity.
Religious congregations have felt the challenge of this double call, from
yesterday and tomorrow, as a core and driving feature of their spirituality.
Last week we buried a great figure in our Australian Jesuit province,
William Dalton, a renowned scripture scholar and the founder of our Jesuit
Theological College, which is engaged in an ecumenical enterprise and
like CIS, set in the city and able to bring theological formation to a
wide range of people. Bill had the beaming largesse of John XXIII. He
trusted his students to own their vocation, to live faithful to it, and
to adapt it to modern needs. He was a man who gave himself both to the
institutional conversation of the Church and to the smaller conversation
Catholicism, of course, is institutional by instinct and by nature. Institutions
are the way you grab hold of life, the way you lay hands on complex social
questions. Its welfare, educational and social service institutions are
the hands of the Church, its means for engaging not only in response to
the needs of people, but also in the processes of our society as it changes.
They are the stables in which surprise, solidarity, hope and energy can
be born. But stables, of course, need to be cleansed for the purpose.
For that reason we need an overarching strategy for the institutional
Catholic social presence, in education, health care and social service.
By linking ourselves to the engine of upward social mobility, through
education, thereby educating a quarter of the population, the Catholic
Australia embarked on a risky strategy. It has been rewarding. But it
also must be subject constantly to the revision afforded by the Church's
preferential option for the poor. And the educational base is only one
of many bases: the Church's strategy will be correctly rooted in the parish
base of Australian Catholicism, even if that parish base appears to be
diminishing in strength and numbers. And it should be rooted in the popular
movements, wherever surprise is engendered.
Our faith urges us always to overcome any divisions in our society. In
1986, addressing the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples at
Alice Springs, Pope John Paul II had also spoken of a similar goal for
us all: 'You are part of Australia and Australia is part of you. And the
Church herself in Australia will not be fully the Church that Jesus wants
her to be until you have made your contribution to her life and until
that contribution has been joyfully received by others.'
May I conclude by quoting from our most recent Jesuit General Congregation
which resonates with the magnificent text of the Vatican Council earlier
The aim of an inculturated evangelisation in post-Christian contexts
is not to secularise or dilute the Gospel by accommodating it to the horizon
of modernity, but to introduce the possibility and reality of God through
practical witness and dialogue.
It is part of our Jesuit tradition to be involved in the transformation
of every human culture, as human beings begin to reshape their patterns
of social relations, their cultural inheritance, their intellectual projects,
their critical perspectives on religion, truth and morality, their whole
scientific and technological understanding of themselves and the world
in which they live. We commit ourselves to accompany people, in different
contexts, as they and their culture make difficult transitions. We commit
ourselves to develop the dimension of an inculturated evangelisation within
our mission of the service of faith and the promotion of justice.16
Mark Raper is Provincial Superior of the
Australian and New Zealand Province of the esuits. Previously he was International
Director of the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) based in Rome.
1 Zygmunt Bauman, Wasted Lives: Modernity and its Outcasts Polity, Cambridge,
2 Judy Davis, 'Fear: The Politics of Submission In Australian History',
The Fourth Annual Manning Clark Lecture, March 3, 2003 www.manningclark.org/papers/MCLecture-2003.html.
3 Miriam-Rose Ungunmerr in Dadirri: The Spring Within The Spiritual Art
of the Aboriginal People from Australia's Daly River Region, Darwin, Terry
Knight & Associates, 2003 p IX.
5 Sharon Mascall 'Writer of life in two worlds', The Age April 28, 2004.
6 DIMIA Media Release H203/2003 - 18 December 2003 www.minister.immi.gov.au/cam/media/media03/h03203.htm.
7 Professor Terry Lovat 'What can we learn in a multi-faith society?'
Aurora, Issue 44, February-March 2004.
8 Robyn Nevin, Australia Day Address 2004 www.australiaday.com.au/robyn_nevin.htm
9 Dominic Milroy OSB, 'The Cultural Background To Formation Today', Inter
Fratres 50 (2000) 41 54.
10 Decrees of General Congregation 34 #109.
11 Pope John Paul II, Sollicitudo Rei Socialis, 1987, #38.
12 Dominic Milroy OSB, op.cit.
13 Pope Paul VI, Pastoral Constitution on The Church in The Modern World
(Gaudium et Spes), 1965 #36.
14 Gaudium et Spes #37.
15 Dominic Milroy, op.cit.
16 Decrees of General Congregation 34, 1995 #106, 109.
Firstly, on behalf of all gathered, a very warm 'Thank you' to Mark for
his fine presentation. To repeat your story at the beginning, it was 'interesting,
stimulating, provocativeand very sound!!'
Hopefully it was indeed sound, since my response echoes your key thoughts.
I would however also like to identify some key questions which I believe
underscore your presentation to us.
Jose Ortega y Gasset once wrote, 'Tell me the landscape in which you live
and I will tell you who you are.' With apologies to him, perhaps, in the
context of this eveningand the question that we are struggling with
in this series of lectureswe could rephrase such a sentiment by
suggesting, 'Tell me where you live and I will ask you the character of
your faith.' This is to say that we cannot ask questions about faith,
without first addressing questions of context. As the sacramental scholar
Chauvet indicates, 'faith always adheres to a body.' And if this is so,
then we realise that the exercise of faith is always incarnated within
context. It is context which reveals to us the particular way in which
the universal themes of sin and salvation, death and liferedemptionpresent
to us. Unless we take the contextual expressions of these realities seriously
then they simply remain abstractions to which it is possible to give intellectual
assent but from which genuine transformation is not possible.
Mark has presented to us the contextual way in which sin and redemption
present to us in Australia today. Sin as the toxicity of a shameful government
policy that reinforces older patterns of continental separation and scapegoating;
'redemption' as expressed in the healing within indigenous waiting and
the forging of inter-cultural friendship and the affirmation of solidarity
in a multi-cultural environment.
You also spoke to us, Mark, of the crisis of trust that we currently experienceparticularly
trust in leadership. But I wonder whether there is another crisis of trust
that we faceespecially as those who hold religious faith. This is
a crisis of trust in the worldfor much of what you offered us this
evening, Mark, relies on this trust in the world. This trust cannot be
taken for granted. Though it is a mark of the Second Vatican Council it
is a trust under considerable threat forty years later. How we are to
view the worldand more particularly modern societyis a key
question for the character of faith today.
I think we find ourselves midway between two possibilities. Contemporary
culturein all its complexity and questionscan be experienced
as 'threat' or as 'promise'. Of course, it is a mixture of both.
If its possibility as threat, however, is accentuated then faith becomes
innately defensive, constructing itself ever more deeply into religious
ghettoeswhat Tracy calls 'private reservations of the spirit' in
which we define ourselves through what Robert Gascoigne terms 'doctrines
Then faith, at worst, has become seduced into ideology. This is a key
question for us today: faith or ideology? Which way is it to be for us?
But if we retain a fundamental trust in the world with recognition of
the possibility of promise in the worldyes, even in the face of
its contradictions and ambiguitywe are not granted the luxurious
safety of ideology. Faith now becomes an adventurous project of discernment
to discover those places of 'surprise, solidarity, hope and energy' of
which you spokenot as places just in themselves but in those contexts
which first seem to speak only of deaththe places of violence, rejection,
refugee anguishbut, which according to the eyes of faith, are those
places waiting to become new life and possibility. Only faith can undertake
this journey; ideology can never.
The way in which we understand human society and culture today presents
as a key question for faith today. If we continue to recognise the sacramental
potential of the world today then our faith will be essentially dialogical,
engaged, passionate about the things of society, receptive, searching,
humble. If this is not the case, then our faith becomes, at worst, simple
consolationan aesthetic experiencebut without the socially
liberating character of the gospel.
The social dimension of the gospel, of which you have spoken so eloquently
this evening, however, also requires its transcendent dimension. There
is concern in some quarters about an over-concern with the social
that somehow the social dimension of the gospel has become more important
in the imagination of some than the transcendent aspect. Personally, I
do not believe this to be the actual case, but I am of the opinion that
a considerable challenge ahead of us is the retrieval of this transcendent
dimension (which undoubtedly has indeed in some ways been hijacked by
the strength of secularity) in such a way that it does not present as
some kind of alternative to the social such that a kind of splitting occurs
between the two but that the two be experienced in all their integrity.
Where the integration occurs, out of a fundamental trust in the world
and within the character of a particular context, there faith lives anew.
Fr David Ranson is Lecturer in Spirituality,
Pastoral Theology andPractice at the Catholic Institute of Sydney. He
is the author of Across the Great Divide: Bridging Spirituality and Rel-igion
Today. (St. Pauls Publications 2002).
This is a lecture delivered on May 19th, 2004 to mark the fiftieth
anniversary of the Catholic Institute of Sydney. It will be published
along with other lectures in the series by CIS. We thank CIS for their
kind permission to publish it in Compass.