Church needs tension beween liberal and conservative

Years ago I took a job in a Catholic adult education centre solely because of the team’s desire to work towards building an adult Church, writes Patty Fawkner SGS in The Good Oil.

. “Towards an adult Church” was our mantra and our goal. Our key principles were dialogue, leadership, mutual responsibility and partnership. Today that goal seems ever more elusive in the institutional Church.

As young adults my siblings left the Church condemning it for its perceived hypocrisy and repressive teaching on sex. “Why do you stay?” they ask. It is a challenging question in the face of my own struggle with the Church’s pervasive clericalism. But I have been born and baptised into a Church that has formed and continues to nourish me with its rich spiritual, scriptural, theological and liturgical heritage. I cannot leave.

Others have asked the opposite question. “Why don’t you go?” was put to me by some angry participants at a workshop we ran on women’s participation in the Church. This group was offended because I didn’t “look like a nun” and dared to discuss barriers to women’s participation. I in turn was affronted by their “if you don’t like it, get out” taunt.

Soon after, I came across Carlo Carretto’s ‘love letter’ to the Church.

“How much I must criticise you, my Church and yet how much I love you!
You have given me much scandal and yet you alone have made me understand holiness.”

Carretto’s words continue to be a source of deep comfort. Like him, if I were to leave the Church where should I go?

“To build another Church?
But I cannot build another Church without the same defects, for they are my own defects.
And again, if I were to build another Church, it would be my Church, not Christ’s Church.”

So I don’t go. I stay. But how do I stay especially when I am hurt and angered by some unhealthy systems within the institutional Church which preclude transparency and mutuality.

FULL STORY Towards an adult church (The Good Oil)

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