Today's commentary is a follow-up to Fr Daniel Donovan's essay yesterday [LINK] on the lessons that might be learned from the unjust excommunication that was inflicted on Fr Leonard Feeney SJ in 1953, and subsequently overturned in 1972 by Pope Paul VI. There are a number of reasons for presenting this commentary today: (i) it provides another perspective on the lessons to be learned from Leonard Feeney; (ii) it is an interesting set of ideas on the subject of what defines our Catholicism; (iii) it might provide a wider introduction to the full range of of topics that were discussed at the American Catholic Council held on the Pentecost weekend 11-12th June 2011. The immediate focus of today's commentary are two extracts from the inspiring address Mr James Carroll gave on the Saturday afternoon at the Conference on the subject Why am I a Catholic? Reclaiming the Commitment of the People of God. We also provide links to transcripts of other addresses given at the Conference by Sr Joan Chittister and Dr Hans Küng and other resources from the Council.
James Carroll's video – Excerpt One: Why am I a Catholic?
In this first extract from the beginning of his address Mr Carroll provides two main reasons why he considers himself a Catholic. It's an exploration of the forces that shaped his attraction to claiming membership in the Catholic communion.
James Carroll's video – Excerpt Two: Lessons from the Feeney case
In this second extract from his address Mr Carroll focuses in much more on the impact that the Leonard Feeney case had in changing some fundamental theological ideas in our attitudes to people of other religious faiths and, in particular, the people of the Jewish faith. Carroll argues that the Feeney case is an example of where the influence of one lay women, Dolly Pearlstein, sister of Archbishop (later Cardinal) Cushing of Boston, ended up having an influence at a very deep level of theology.
A Detroit Commercial Television News Report on the Council
This short commercial television news report might also be valuable in providing background appreciation of the scope of the conference, the sort of people it attracted and the general atmosphere on the Conference floor at the COBO Conference Center in Detroit.
Transcripts, DVDs and other Resources from the Council
The website of the Council contains a wealth of resources that have flowed out of the gathering in Detroit. DVDs and CDs of all the presentations made at the Council are available for purchase and there are free transcripts of keynote addresses.
The Council appears to have generated significant energy and a number of follow-up initiatives are already in the planning stages including a "proposal from inter-national representatives concerning a possible lay synod (Vatican Council 50/Vatican III?) to be convened in Rome in 2015".
An interesting undercurrent that we picked up at the Council was a certain skepticism or impatience that reform is possible any longer. Both from keynote presenters — Matthew Fox, for example, is suggesting that the Church is already in schism (and the ones in schism are the episcopal leaders [See an interview he provided HERE which covers similar territory to what he spoke of at the Council]). Another significant emerging trend appears to be the formation of small group gatherings — still very much "private" and "below the radar" — where small communities are forming for social, worship and study purposes and they seem to be taking place outside the formal structure of the institution.
Report compiled by Brian Coyne, 01/07/2011