'CRISIS OF CHARITY, NOT OBEDIENCE'
THE real crisis in today's Church was not one of faith or obedience, but of charity, saidFr. John McKenzie, the American scripture scholar, speaking at a meetint in Liverpool organised by the Scottish branch of the Catholic Renewal Movement last week.
The meeting was held at the university chaplaincy and was attended by Archbishop Beck of Liverpool.
Fr. McKenzie said that many thought it an exaggeration to speak of a crisis in the Church, and saw the necessity to distinguish between a crisis of obedience and a crisis of faith. Some thought they were the same, but, just as in a family, this was not so.
Insubordination became a crisis only when it was habitual, sustained and amounting to a refusal to accept authority. Disagreement over policy did not dissolve a society, but it might be a way of structuring differences of opinion over which it was not necessary to quarrel.
"It is not a healthy society which does not allow differences," said Fr. McKenzie.
OVER-REACTION In the past, especially since the over-reaction of the Holy See to modernism, differences which did exist had not been expressed. Now people called the expression of them a crisis. To respond to them with harshness could lose us something more precious than that which had been disputed. Dissent should not be looked upon as the next thing to treason.
Concerning the crisis in faith, Mr. McKenzie said he had not in the last ten years seen anything which could be described as a major denial of faith. "The crisis in belief is that so many people in the Church believe things which are really not so." He quoted the Galileo incident as an example from the past to show that this was not a new phenomenon.
"There have always been periods of theological advance. This generation is seeing a good deal of it because hardly anything had been done since the over-kill of modernism. The panic created lasted until 1939
and only a ''safe" theology was taught because of the fear that someone would get hurt. It was safe, therefore, to repeat something even if it was wrong," he
MOVING AT PACE Because of the removal of the block, theology was now moving at a pace. In theology they believed in collecting opinions, not stifling them. Calling off the dogs would do is 1ot more to solve the crisis of faith.
Part of the crisis, he considered, was that the local church did not feel that it was the Church, but only a branch, yet, as Karl Rahner had said, any church, however small, should have the entire experience of the Church. This had come about as the result of our tendency to over-centralise.
If the experience of the Church were the experience of love it should be possible even in the most remote village. It
should not be necessary to go to a cathedral to experience the Church.
LEADERSHIP CRISIS There was also a crisis of authority in another sense, the Crisis of leadership. We must preserve our love as we differed. The exchange in public of charge and counter-charge should be avoided. As a weapon gossip was unworthy of a Christian, yet there had been more in the last ten years than in the previous fifty. "If you can't deal with a man's arguments then 'blacken his character."
s Fr. McKenzie instanced seminary courses where he was told six months was spent in the study of the virtue of chastity and only a week in the study of the virtue of charity. "Charity should be the first virtue," he said. One of the functions of leadership was to unify all those subject to its authority.