Monday, December 26, 2005

Idealism and commitment, tempered with warmth

John Cavadini, chairman of theology at the University of Notre Dame, speaking about JPII Catholics:
What they see in him is perhaps something that youth of any age and period admire: idealism and commitment, tempered with warmth. John Paul has the ability to state ideals forthrightly without closing off openness toward the 'other,' regardless of the other's religion or lack thereof. Like our millennial youth, John Paul seems to respect, as something sacred, religious faith and moral commitment wherever he finds it. He sees it as a basis for the building of what he calls the 'civilization of love.' Without wanting to minimize the problems or real inconsistencies in the position of our younger brothers and sisters in Christ, are they not, in some sense, especially the children of this pope in this regard? In their abiding affection for Catholicism, coupled with an openness toward other faiths, could we not see an intuition, not of relativism, but of a religious alternative to the indifferentism of secular culture? In place of the secular ideals of 'tolerance' or 'respect for difference' simply as difference, is there among young Catholics a sense of love or charity founded on and in the Christian faith itself? On the one hand, charity makes no sense apart from the truth of the Catholic faith that proclaims the love revealed in the Incarnation as the absolute and final revelation. And yet it is that very charity that 'bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things' (1 Cor 13:7) and so, in its very absoluteness, intrinsically implies an openness as well. This means that the evangelization of our youth should be aimed, not at undoing the 'inconsistency' that Davidson and Hoge point to, but at making articulate the inarticulate commitments that are implicitly folded in the 'joy and hope' this very striking juxtaposition seems to embody.
Fr. Neuhaus puts it like this:"There is a very big difference between tolerating others because nobody has the truth and being convinced of the truth that we are to love those with whom we disagree about the truth."

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