Goodbye Father: The Celibate Male Priesthood and the Future of the Catholic Church

By Richard A. Schoenherr; David Yamane | Go to book overview

7
UNITY AND DIVERSITY

Kindness and truth shall meet; justice and peace shall kiss. Truth shall spring out of the earth, and justice shall look down from heaven

Psalms 85: 11–12

The issue of structural strain in organized religion is a prism refracting the psalmist's vision of truth and justice. It creates a rainbow of conflict and paradox. How does the truth of reality spring from the earthly community and interact with salvific justice looking down from heaven? The kindly truth of earth is a diverse, immanent, hierarchic force, and the peaceful justice of heaven a unitive, transcendent, hierophanic force. How do the material forces of earth and the spiritual forces of heaven meet? How do they sacralize their conflicting elements with a holy kiss? For religious organizations as well as individual persons, conflicts within and between material and mental forces are confronted and transcended only by paradoxes within spiritual forces.

The first trend in the matrix of social forces affecting Catholic ministry is decline in the priesthood population combined with growth in church membership. This dual force bears a catalytic relationship to the others, so must be treated separately. In effect, the priest shortage is the key to understanding why other social forces are reaching a critical threshold simultaneously. Thus, I will first show that each of the other trends is reaching a state of balanced tension and then, at the end of chapter 9, that the priest shortage is a catalyst creating convergence among them.

In this chapter I treat the second and third trends in the selected matrix: (2) the decline of dogmatism coupled with the rise of pluralism and (3) the decline of Eurocentrism coupled with the emergence of the Church inculturated in six continents. They have a direct bearing on the tension between unity and diversity in the Catholic Church. First I show that the increasing tensions between dogmatism and pluralism help account for changes in expressive social forces, that is, the cultural and motivational transformations occurring in Ca

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