Bishop Dowling and Church Trends

Bishop Dowling form South Africa reflects thoughtfully and insightfully on current trends in the Church.  I think he’d make a good pope!  Here’s just one paragraph to give a sense of his perspective:

“The rise of conservative groups and organisations in the Church over the past 40 years and more, which attract significant numbers of adherents, has led to a phenomenon which I find difficult to deal with, viz. an inward looking Church, fearful of if not antagonistic towards a secularist world with its concomitant danger of relativism especially in terms of truth and morality – frequently referred to by Pope Benedict XVI; a Church which gives an impression of “retreating behind the wagons”, and relying on a strong central authority to ensure unity through uniformity in belief and praxis in the face of such dangers. The fear is that without such supervision and control, and that if any freedom in decision-making is allowed, even in less important matters, this will open the door to division and a breakdown in the unity of the Church.”

… and …

“What we should have, in my view, is a Church where the leadership recognises and empowers decision-making at the appropriate levels in the local Church; where local leadership listens to and discerns with the people of God of that area what “the Spirit is saying to the Church” and then articulates that as a consensus of the believing, praying, serving community. It needs faith in God and trust in the people of God to take what may seem to some or many as a risk. The Church could be enriched as a result through a diversity which truly integrates socio-cultural values and insights into a living and developing faith, together with a discernment of how such diversity can promote unity in the Church – and not, therefore, require uniformity to be truly authentic.”

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