Thursday 28 June 2012

Transforming the World by Learning to Dialogue

By Brother Daniel Leckman, S. J.

While my Venezuelan adventures continue, I figured I would take a break from writing about them, and focus instead on one of the issues on my mind: The polarization in the Catholic Church between ‘liberals’ and ‘conservatives’. We are called to be one Church, united in our love for Christ and our desire to build God’s kingdom on earth. But all it takes is one quick visit to some religious websites to see the animosity between people of one camp towards people of another. I recently posted the following comment on one such website, expressing my desire for a Church in the future that was more balanced:
It saddens me to see some of these debates. In fact, the more I read them, the more I yearn for a renewal of our Church; a renewal that does away with the conservative tendency to focus on branding and exclusivity, but also moves away from the liberal branch that insists upon preserving its negative view of the Church at all costs. Indeed, the Church could be doing more work with the poor and marginalized than any other organization in the world, but people on this site will always focus on negatives aspects of the Church. This only alienates people with a different perspective. There is so much polarization on this site, I fear that a real discussion can never take place.

I dream of a Church where we can agree to disagree, and not be divided. A Church where we can be open to the gifts of a rich tradition, while continue to listen to the world around us, learning from it if possible. A Church where we can reject the unhealthy tendencies of the world but by looking at the world with God's eyes, not with eyes biased with contempt.

As it stands, I hope that this site can generate healthy dialogue between people, but I don’t see it. What I see here is the curse of the internet: Everybody gets a voice, and tries to drown out – by insulting – anyone else who disagrees with them. It’s childish and it is not conducive to a healthy dialogue. And yet I come here because there are good stories. It’s those that I cling to. I wish there were more positive stories about the good works happening in the Catholic world, but I guess those are meant to be kept under the rug while we continue to lash at each other over the issues of the day.

And despite this, I have hope for our Church. Thankfully, despite the internet’s messiness, there are great sites and pages out there that foster a healthy dialogue between people of opposing positions. It fosters unity in our universal family, and brings us back to the core, the Heart of Jesus that guides all of our actions, and all of our words in this world. I trust this will continue, and that our Church will continue to respond to the challenges of the 21st centuries and beyond!
May we all learn to see the world through the eyes of Jesus, and to actively listen to one another, so that we can truly share what is in our hearts, and in that way transform the whole world by setting it afire with God's love.

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