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Recent activity among the American Catholic bishops in the social and political arena shows in some cases at least a tendency towards the “heresy” of integrism as defined by Karl Rahner, namely, the inclination to see the ethical teaching of the Church as a blueprint or template for secular society. This article surveys some examples of this tendency. It argues for a vision of the secular world as independent and grace-filled. The constructive proposal towards which this article moves, which is an effort to place the Church's ethical outlook on the secular world in the space between integrism and esotericism, is worked out in dialogue with Rahner, Archbishop Charles Chaput, Archbishop Rowan Williams and Professor James Davison Hunter.
This paper explores the debate on the public voice of religion from two perspectives: contemporary critical theory and the Catholic social tradition. Using the recent conversation between Jürgen Habermas and Joseph Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI) on religion and secularization as a point of entry, I argue that critical theory offers a framework of rationality that promotes dialogue between religious and secular individuals while the Catholic social tradition's principle of subsidiarity provides a practical model for how this dialogue can occur.
This paper selects three aspects of consumerism (individualism, the chronically reinvented self, and viewing nearly everything as a product or commodity) and assesses how they pose a challenge to liturgical worship, which is properly grounded in a Christian indentity that is fundamentally communal. When consumerism takes the form of shopping for a parish, it threatens to undermine this communal identity. At the same time, parish-shopping may well be an expression of a sincere search for a vital Christian community. This paper thus neither condemns nor condones parish shopping but stresses rather that there is work to be done to build up the sense of community in Roman Catholic parishes. Liturgical worship is an essential element in that process, but liturgy by itself cannot build or sustain community.
Theologians are called upon to carry out many responsibilities, including calls from church and academic leaders to “stimulate the internal development” of other academic disciplines and to help students arrive at an “organic vision of reality.” How might theologians do so without infringing academic freedom and autonomy, or resorting to a heteronomous dominance of other disciplines? To answer these questions I propose a theologically-grounded definition of academic freedom, then show the implications of that definition for how theology might stimulate disciplines to look beyond their limited domains. This theological definition is founded in the desire of the mind for God—a dynamic eros for God that moves the mind from knowledge within any particular discipline toward completeness of understanding within an ultimate horizons. Fostering this movement from finite disciplines to theological understanding is the service theologians must render.