A Study Of Catholicism Essay, Research Paper
When “catholic” is used as an adjective,
it means universal, open or general. I have read art magazines and reviews
that have described certain art collections as “catholic in its uniqueness.”
The fact that Catholicism has its root in the word “catholic” is not a
coincidence. In his essay “Catholicism: A Synthesis,” Richard McBrien says
that it is this notion that distinguishes Catholicism from other religions,
Christian and non. The notion is that Catholicism is a religion that is
based on open-mindedness. McBrien alludes to flags to clearly define his
thesis. Many flags of the world share the same three colors. He uses the
colors red, white, and blue. The flags for Australia, the United Kingdom,
Ireland, Cuba, and France all share the same three colors, yet they are
not configured the same way. The flag of the United States has fifty stars
and the French flag has three thick bars of color. It is in this way that
McBrien relates the flags of the world to Catholicism. The Catholic Church
is distinguished from other Christian religions by the configuration of
its practices and characteristics.
One instance that I read about in the news
recently was about a young girl in England who became pregnant. The girl
went to her church and told her priest. The priest then referred the girl
to the Cardinal of that area. The twelve-year-old girl comes from a family
that can barely afford food and clothes, let alone support a new child.
Abortion was obviously not even an issue in this case. The clergy decided
it would be best to use church money and support this girl in her pregnancy.
This shows openness on the part of the Catholic Church because they could
have shunned this twelve year old girl, and ignored her pleas for help.
However, they decided to take a risk and help her.
An instance in which the church is not
so open has to do with homosexuality. I know that the Catholic Church embraces
good causes, and finding a cure for AIDS is one. I know of Catholic churches
that hold fundraising events, awareness seminars and promote AIDS benefits.
There is such a thick layer of hypocrisy in this example. The church refuses
to acknowledge homosexuals as human beings, yet the homosexual community
is hit very hard by the AIDS epidemic. How can they embrace the AIDS cause,
yet denounce homosexuality. This is just one instance of non-openness in
the Catholic Church.
“Christian realism” is critical thinking
in the context of the Catholic Church. Realists take reality in the context
in which it is in history. Christian realism is based on the contexualist
outlook on life. “…Christianity itself is mediated by meaning,” says
McBrien. McBrien makes a good point when he says, “Christian realism also
rejects the notion that clear and distinct ideas…are equivalent to the
real itself.” Ideas are never based on solely one thing. That is what is
so great about Christian realism. It incorporates the idea of openness
into decision making. Critical realism is used in every aspect of the Church.
Nothing goes unchallenged, whether it is ” doctrines, dogmas or canonical
Richard McBrien makes some good points
in his essay, “Catholicism: A Synthesis.” He made the reader aware of how
open the Catholic church really is. He also makes us aware of Christian
realism and how it works in association the Catholic Church. He clearly
defines his thesis, that the Catholic Church is defined by the configuration
of its characteristics.