Benedict's "post-Constantinian" Strategy? Print
Written by Sherry   
Friday, 18 April 2008 08:05
David Gibson's piece in the New York Time on Pope's Benedict's efforts to restore Catholic culture ended with these thought-provoking paragraphs:

"In the Christian ideal, God has no grandchildren; faith must be ever new. But then how does the church encourage Catholicism as a culture while keeping the faith fresh and alive? It is an age-old question, the search for a link between the collective sense of a people and the requirement of individual sanctification. Answers have ranged from Kierkegaard's attack on Christendom to H. Richard Niebuhr's seminal work, "Christ and Culture."

For his part, Benedict seems to embrace a kind of "post-Constantinian" strategy that attempts the tricky two-step of, as the pope said, "cultivating a Catholic identity which is based not so much on externals as on a way of thinking and acting grounded in the Gospel and enriched by the Church's living tradition." Benedict's approach is so novel -- as is the ever-changing world that the age-old church now inhabits -- that it's hard to know what to call it. Vatican expert John Allen has tried out labels like "evangelical Catholicism" or "affirmative orthodoxy." Yet neither seems to encompass Benedict's goal of making an Old World religion pulse with the vitality of a New World spirituality.


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