National Catholic Register

Opinion

Dialogue in the Church

BY Jim Cosgrove

April 06, 1997 Issue | Posted 4/6/97 at 2:00 PM

 

The teachings of the Church are plain from tradition, the documents of the councils, the papal statements and the Catechism. Thus much of what dialogue might accomplish by way of explanation is not an issue. Distinguished editors of “catholic” publications are too well educated to have gaps in their knowledge. Their positions are held because of personal perspective and they have a constituency, their readership, that must be satisfied. Dialogue amongst authorities does little to correct deeply held personal bias and will rarely lead to an understanding that endangers the positions of those in leadership of certain constituencies.

What then does it accomplish? Your recent editorial (“Among Editors,” Feb. 23-March 1) suggests it fosters love. It is usually better to meet with opponents leading to an appreciation of them as persons rather than things in opposition. As persons they have human traits that lead to sympathy. Certainly when one has little experience with individuals of another race meeting with them dispels caricatures and that helps immensely. But how much this would help in meetings between orthodox versus dissenting Church proponents, at the level of editors and leaders, is less clear. One would hope that there already exists some mutual respect. The danger lies in becoming soft. We all want to be liked and we all wish to avoid hurting others, but in our current world there seems to be a bit too much emphasis upon respect for human opinion at the expense of truth.

The outcome of Americans seeking to coexist, despite their different religious views, has lead to the emergence of the philosophy that no religious views should be allowed to influence the public forum. The ongoing dialogue has failed in American politics.

Henry Ryan

Augusta, Maine