"If we find the Catholic Church all churned up today ought we to say it is a had thing? Perhaps. this is what Christ meant it to be. He said people were going to disagree about him. He said a lot of aggression was going to be released over HIS teaching. Perhaps it is more mature to release it than to have unbroken peace. Sometimes the disagreements go very deep and cause great agony. But it does not mean the bottom has dropped out of life. I don't mean He said life was meant to be nasty but we do not need tc he depressed"
This advice was given to Southend (Essex) Newman Circle on Friday by Fr. Robert Murray, S. J. lecturing on general problems of how Christians understand their position as believers.
The Church is a community — a human group, said Fr., Murray and as such was subject to group dynamics, therefore with a lot of social pressures, social determinations. "How much in Catholicism is social pressure?" he asked, "and if we find that a lot is, is that wrong? Or is it just part of the workingout of the Gospel in the human, race?"
"Law in Christianity, that is canon law, the workings-out of authority, is not descended from on high, but part of the workings-out of human nature. Authority has to he in the human group, how much in the Church is due to human needs and therefore changeable? We probably can all think of a lot. There are places where the idea of human service has been turned into tyranny."
Fr. Murray, who is a Testament scholar al Heythrop. said:
"A lot of people say they can't read the Old Testament, it is disgusting, boring. unedifying. But it is the records of the Carly stages of our family of faith, the human responses of those days — including the lapses, thank God for the lapses — it makes for wonderful examples of the dialogue of human grace and response. What today we call pluralism is authentic human response to the one God.
"I am not saying Catholic unity is just a word. There are points beyond which one is not recognisable as a disciple. There are criteria. People cannot demand access to the visible union unless they assent to the formulas."
About the hard cases one wonders why. when we are dealing with people who really want to he disciples of Christ; on the other hand people have lived and died in good standing in the Church who have possessed slaves and treated them as animals, exploited the poor. There has been an imbalance between the different kinds of criteria in the Church. There has also been extreme mercy shown to the most appalling lapses.
"We have had plenty of guidance about orthodox formulas. We haven't had guidance about deeper things. We have guidance now about slavery from Vatican Two, but teaching of that quality in the Catholic Church is only about fifty or sixty years old.
"We have to think seriously about the limits and we have to do some of that thinking for ourselves. Each of us is responsible for our own discipleship. Some think we should have supernatural values. Some think we should praise good human
values wherever we find them. There is room for both. We must allow people to he disciples of other kinds, the varieties are very great."
"As we look at the scene today and our own responses we need to be able to locate ourselves on a map." Fr Murray suggested Prof. Mar) Douglas's book "Human Sym. bols" could do this for us. It was a kind of map of religious patterns in society "You can set all of them today." He ciescrih. ed Prof. Dou&las of London University, as a conservative Catholic and her book as "ridand interesting."