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Common Ground: What Catholics and Protestants Are Learning From One Another in Detroit PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Wednesday, 20 May 2009 10:02
I know that I should be working but I just had to share this find:

It's an amazing initiative taking place between a Catholic parish and a large evangelical church north of Detroit, called "Common Ground". Here's some history:

"The leaders at Kensington (the evangelical church) had wanted Fr. Riccardo to come and be interviewed during their Sunday morning services. But because Fr. Riccardo was busy with Sunday Masses, they decided to videotape an interview and use that in their services.

The interview was conducted by Kensington's lead pastor, Steve Andrews, in the sanctuary at St. Anastasia, just in front of the Blessed Sacrament tabernacle. Pastor Andrews asked about, and Fr. Riccardo cleared up, many of the misunderstandings that Evangelicals and Protestants have toward Catholicism. Fr. John also suggested some important things that Catholics can learn from Protestants.

Large portions of the interview were played before the Kensington Congregation on two Sunday mornings, and over the next few weeks over 2,000 copies of the interview on DVD were sold through the Kensington Church's bookstore.


Then, last night (Dec 15, 2006), at St. Anastasia, the two churches gathered for an evening of prayer. The two pastors lit several candles placed on a small table before the altar before the service began, but Steve Andrews was having a very difficult time lighting his candle. Finally he gave up and commented over his open microphone, "I guess I wasn't suppose to be Catholic." (We laughed with him.) Fr. John helped Steve get the candle lit, but in the process knocked it to the floor, which Steve retrieved, and the process started all over. It was both funny and poignant illustration of these two ministers of the Gospel, neither perfect but both trying their best to honor God and lead their congregations to ask God that we might be one.

About 500 attended. There was music from both churches, both pastors gave short talks on prayer, Scripture was read (Luke 11:5-13), members of both congregations led us in a series of prayers for a variety of common concerns, and a basket filled with written petitions from the congregation was brought forward and placed before the altar. Then, the two men knelt before the altar and the Blessed Sacrament beyond, we all knelt with them for an extended time of silent prayer asking God to hear us, heal us, and unite us, so that the world would know that Jesus was sent by the God the Father. Both pastors made it very clear that as Jesus prayed in John 17, the lack of unity of Christians in the world, made Christians oftentimes the laughing stock of the world and hindered Christians' ability to proclaim the Gospel effectively.

Evangelicals kneeling for prayer in front of the Blessed Sacrament. Amazing.

There is a wonderful 4 min clip of the filmed interview with Fr. Riccardo here. I've watched and it is great. This man knows his faith and has an incredible ability to articulate it clearly and winsomely. Watch and see what you think.

You can purchase the DVD here. it got two thumbs up from the late Fr. Richard John Neuhaus and Tom Allen of Catholic Exchange as well as from some evangelical heavy hitters like Timothy George.
Walking with Purpose PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Wednesday, 20 May 2009 09:35

As a pleasant diversion from the troubles of the early 20th century, I'd like to recommend that you check out this very interesting women's apostolate: Walking With Purpose.

We found out about them yesterday when one of their leaders called to find out more about the Called & Gifted discernment process. And I looked up their website. Very impressive.

Evangelization, formation, and Christian community for Catholic women happening in parishes in Maryland, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, and northern Virginia. Definitely check it out!

I hope they hold a workshop in the Annapolis area and I get to teach it.

Cause Annapolis is so cool - full of colonial homes and sailing boats. And I'd love to visit old St. Mary's, the old capital of Catholic Maryland where they have just rebuilt the original colonial chapel and are doing all kinds of fascinating archeological stuff.
France Pagan? PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Tuesday, 19 May 2009 22:39
The online Time magazine archives is a real treasure and I'm coming across wonderful nuggets there as I do my research.

Here's one called Not Cassocks But Coveralls from November, 1965 on a revival of the Worker-priest experiment launched in the 40's, suppressed by Pope John XXIII and revived for a time by Pope Paul VI. (I believe it was stopped again but I don't know why.)

The worker-priest experiment began because of a 1940 book by an obscure French priest, Abbe Henri Grodin, called "France: A Mission Field?' and published in English by Maisie Ward, of Sheed and Ward, under the title "France Pagan? in 1943. (I own a copy of the Sheed book. It certainly gives one perspective on our situation 70 years later.)

Abbe Grodin wrote eloquently about the profound de-Christianization of the working class in France in the late 30's and the Time article indicates not much has changed. Cardinal Suhard of Paris sat up all night reading it and decided to take action. And the result was the worker priest movement which was consciously competing with communist cells in the slums of Paris.

"Among French workers nowadays, according to a recent government survey, the percentage of practicing Catholics runs from 2% to 10% ; many millions can quite reasonably be called pagan."

Those kind of figures sure sound familiar. It was already commonplace in the 1860's for the working class, especially men, to no longer practice the faith. The French had been already been wrestling with this for a hundred years before the Second Vatican Council.

In fact, Pope Pius XI said this to Fr. Joseph Cardijin (the founder of the Young Christian Workers or JOC) when they met in 1925:

“The greatest scandal of the nineteenth century was the loss of the workers to the Church.”
Morning, Noon, and Night PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Tuesday, 19 May 2009 19:35
I'm here. I'm just working morning, noon, and night on this course which starts a week from today. So blogging will happen but irregularly.

Like my sleep at present.
And Now the Award for the Film that Generated the Most Inspired Bad Reviews. And the Winner is . . . PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Friday, 15 May 2009 15:04
Infinitely more entertaining than the actual film are the reviews of Angels and Demons.

To wit.

"At least the movie's good for about 30 minutes of unintentional laughter, which doesn't say much for the other 90+ minutes." - Jeffrey M. Anderson

"THE Da Vinci Code" movie was a riddle wrapped in an enigma inside a mullet. "Angels & Demons" is "Roman Holiday" on crank." So begins the New York Times review.

"For Angels & Demons, Hanks's character, Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon, has returned, but without the mullet, which in the interim evidently detached itself from his scalp, crawled off to some dark corner, and grew up to be Danny McBride. The movie never quite recovers from its loss." - Christopher Orr, New Republic.

"Every revelation in "Angels & Demons" has a "Colonel Mustard in the library with the candlestick" vibe. Whenever something bad is about to happen, Hans Zimmer's score flares up like a bad case of stigmata."- Stephanie Zakarek, Salon

Is there an Oscar category for film that generates the most inspired bad reviews?
Vocations Crisis PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Thursday, 14 May 2009 15:17
For the past two days, there has been a lot of discussion here and over at Mark Shea's about my post "Time to Get a Grip"

The post ended this way:

The fascinating thing about all this research is coming across public laments by Pope Pius XII about the “crisis of priestly vocations” in the 1950’s. And to find that seminarian numbers in France dropped 50% between 1905 and 1919. When Church and State were rigorously separated in 1905, seminarians lost some of their distinctive perks. The result: Lots of men chose to do other things.

There apparently have been numerous “vocation crisis” throughout the Church’s history – and the causes are many and none of them that I’ve encountered so far have been liturgical. It varies tremendously from culture to culture and era to era

Just now as I've been working my way through the papacy of Pope Pius XI and his vigorous support of the lay apostolate and Catholic Action, I came across a reference to the "Terrible Triangle". This phrase of the Pope's referred to three areas of terrible persecution in the 20's and 30's: Mexico, Spain, and Eastern Catholics in the old Soviet Union.

One result of the persecution that broke out in Mexico in 1917 and lasted until 1934, resulted in the closure of all Catholic churches for nearly three years, and led to a wide-spread civil war, was a catastrophic vocations crisis".

(The famous picture of the execution of Fr. Miquel Pro, SJ who was declared Blessed by Pope John Paul II in 1988.)

"Neither suffering nor serious illness, neither the exhausting ministerial activity, frequently carried out in difficult and dangerous circumstances, could stifle the radiating and contagious joy which he brought to his life for Christ and which nothing could take away. Indeed, the deepest root of self-sacrificing surrender for the lowly was his passionate love for Jesus Christ and his ardent desire to be conformed to him, even unto death." [6

Before the war, there were about 4,500 priests in Mexico (as a comparison, the US, a heavily Protestant country, had 6,000 priests in 1880). By 1934, there were only 334 priests left for a Catholic population of 15 million. The rest had been executed, exiled or immigrated. And something like 5% of the Mexican population had emigrated to the US.

No public Masses in the nation for nearly 3 years and 1 priest for every 45,000 Catholics.

That's what you call a crisis. And right next store.

As I said above:

"There apparently have been numerous “vocation crisis” throughout the Church’s history – and the causes are many and none of them that I’ve encountered so far have been liturgical. It varies tremendously from culture to culture and era to era.

FYI, there is a fascinating set of Wiki articles on the persecution of Catholics in the 20th century including a detailed series on Mexico, Germany, Spain, Eastern Europe, China, El Salvador and persecution in general.
It is Jesus You Seek PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Thursday, 14 May 2009 14:34

Bobby Vidal, our team leader in the LA area, sends this wonderful quote from JPII:

"It is Jesus that you seek when you dream of happiness; he is waiting for you when nothing else you find satisfies you; he is the beauty to which you are so attracted; it is he who provokes you with that thirst for fullness that will not let you settle for compromise; it is he who urges you to shed the masks of a false life; it is he who reads in your hearts your most genuine choices, the choice that others try to stifle. It is Jesus who stirs in you the desire to do something great with your lives, the will to follow an ideal, the refusal to allow yourselves to be grounded down by mediocrity, the courage to commit yourselves humbly and patiently to improving yourselves and society."

- Pope John Paul II, World Youth Day 2000 Prayer Vigil
Drop By Our New Branch: Siena Institute Luxembourg PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Wednesday, 13 May 2009 22:10
Now they tell me . . ..

"Since one year, the beauty & perfume Siena Institute has opened its doors in Mondorf-les-bains, Luxembourg.

This place is dedicated to perfumes, body care, relaxation, well-being and beauty, and combines modernity and zen spirit. And ou’re given a warm welcome."

I'm clearly working for the wrong bunch.
Catholic Action PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Wednesday, 13 May 2009 21:36
Bet you wish that you got to spend Wednesday the way I did: reading a series of famous and obscure late 19th/early 20th century papal encyclicals. All in very small print and written as though paragraph spacing had not yet been invented.

I was trying to trace the slow and somewhat tortured progression of Social Catholicism to Catholic Democracy to Catholic Action to Vatican II!






You can say that again.

Barn-burners all. If any ID readers suffer from insomnia, just drop me a line and I can recommend the perfect encyclical for you.

And with sentiments that range from "the introduction of that most pernicious doctrine which would make of the laity the factor of progress in the Church" (Pius X)


"The time has come when the laity must take their place by the side of their consecrated leaders in the urgent task of bringing the teachings of Christ to those who know Him not. This is the most urgent task facing our laity and the form of Catholic Action closest to the Heart of Christ.

Catholic Action must be more than the simple banding together of the Catholic faithful. Its final end is to win back what has been lost and to make new conquests … to win back men to Christ and to the Church … We want Jesus to reign over the whole world … In your thoughts, your aspirations, your works, place the apostolate – the spread of the Kingdom of Christ – above everything else …

Thus prepared, trained and united, the members of Catholic Action will press forward as apostles into every field of society in all directions, wherever there are souls to conquer for Christ, wherever there is a center or meeting ground of individual or collective life, over which Christ Our Lord must reign …

Catholic Action is the hope of the Church in restoring the Reign of Christ in the world."
(Pius XII)

And my favorite:

"The world will either be saved by Catholic Action, well directed and intensely applied, or it will be lost by an atheistic, tyrannical and false bolshevism." – Pope Pius XI

All before 1959.

It is really interesting to be reading all pre-Vatican II documents, to see afresh the breadth of the experience and debate that set the stage for the conciliar debates.
Time to Get a Grip PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Tuesday, 12 May 2009 09:53
Just to get people's dander up a bit, I'm going to post a comment I made over at Catholic Sensibility this past weekend. Which has turned into a bit of a rant.

The topic of conversation was one that has made it's way about the Catholic blogosphere a number of times in recent years, the "feminization" of the Church.

It is surprising, amusing, and very illuminating in the course of my research to stumble across Popes and other Catholic leaders in the 17th, 18th, 19th and early 20th centuries complaining about the same things we complain about: "feminization" of the Church or the crisis of priestly vocations; the utter corruption of the culture and of morals, the collapse of the faith in historically Christian Europe, crisis here, crisis there. Crisis, crisis everywhere.

All real and all before the Second Vatican Council was a twinkle in Pope John XXIII's eye.

Is the Pope a prisoner of the French and in exile from Rome? Oh, that's right. Pope Benedict is currently on a highly publicized visit to the Middle East right now and is meeting with Jewish and Muslim religious leaders at the highest levels. He will fly freely to and from Rome on the Vatican's own private jet accompanied by media from all over the world.

Are thousands of priests being executed or exiled? Is the Goddess of Reason being worshipped at Notre Dame? Are vast numbers of hungry children working 12 hour days in inhuman conditions for pennies? Are millions of Europeans dying in the most vicious of religious civil wars? And the galley slaves - how are they faring? Are the vast majority of people illiterate? Is institutionalized racism still the law of the land? Is revolution after revolution convulsing the west?

Yes, abortion was illegal then but many millions of abortions were procured anyway. Because many of the poor didn't bother to get married and the consequences of unwed pregnancy for a woman was unimaginably more severe than today. Think of ">Fantine, the most tragic character in Victor Hugo's Les Miserables. For her crime of being seduced as a young woman and getting pregnant, she loses her minimal factory job and is reduced to selling her hair, her front teeth and finally herself, to try and support her baby and eventually dies of starvation anyway. No Nurturing Network to ensure that she can finish her college education or continue her career while having the baby.

Wait. That's right. Women like Fantine used to receive no education at all.

Life in the good old post-Tridentine, pre-Vatican II days when all the Masses was in Latin and everything was just fine. Compared to the unspeakable horror this weekend of the President speaking to thousands of highly educated and well heeled Notre Dame Catholics who are perfectly free to organize and mount their own well publicized alternate gathering in protest. With no negative consequences at all.

I'm not saying that we don't face real crisis today. We do. I'm not saying that Catholics didn't face real crisis in the past. They did.

What is laughable is our assumption that things used to be so much better in some golden era in the past. That the crisis we face are unprecedented and con only be explained by a spiritual calamity the like of which no generation before us has endured.

We are so pampered. We have got to get a grip. And a brief dip into real history away from hyperbole of St. Blog's is a salutary slap in the face.

Anyway, here's what I wrote over at Catholic Sensibility:

There was tremendous lamenting about the “feminization” of the Church in 19th century France – when all priests and seminarians wore cassocks and Masses were all Latin and all Tridentine all the time.

Part of it was the consequences of the Revolution. 10,000 French and Belgium priests were killed or forced into exile. Liberty, equality, fraternity was inextricably bound up with anti-Catholicism and anti-clericalism in most people’s minds.

The French working class male left the Church after the first French Revolution and never really came back. There was a lot of Catholic renewal and missionary energy – but mostly among the middle classes. And of course, the 19th century was the century of repeated revolution and counter-revolution (France went through 4 such cycles in 80 years) and the constant change in how the Church and State related.

Another factor was that, simultaneously, after 450 years of insisting that true women religious must be enclosed, the Pope issued a ruling in response to a request from the Archbishop of Munich in 1749 which meant that women religious could engage in what we now call “active” work.

This absolutely transformed religious life as women, after the revolution, established dozens of new “active” orders and for the first time in the Church’s history, women religious made up the majority. Catholics tend to think of this state of things as immemorial but it is actually less than 200 years old.

So you have the simultaneous emergence of a whole new, widely accepted role for women in leadership and a large proportion of the male population who associated freedom and dignity with anti-Catholicism and have left the Church as a result.

The two dynamics together resulted in a Church that must indeed have seemed more “feminine” than it had been in the past.

The fascinating thing about all this research is coming across public laments by Pope Pius XII about the “crisis of priestly vocations” in the 1950’s. And to find that seminarian numbers in France dropped 50% between 1905 and 1919. When Church and State were rigorously separated in 1905, seminarians lost some of their distinctive perks. The result: Lots of men chose to do other things.

There apparently have been numerous “vocation crisis” throughout the Church’s history – and the causes are many and none of them that I’ve encountered so far have been liturgical. It varies tremendously from culture to culture and era to era.

A Long Obedience in the Same Direction . . . PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Tuesday, 12 May 2009 09:40

This wonderful reflection by Archbishop Oscar Romero comes via American Papist:

"It helps now and then to step back and take a long view. The kingdom is not only beyond our efforts, it is even beyond our vision. We accomplish in our lifetime only a small fraction of the magnificent enterprise that is God’s work. Nothing we do is complete, which is another way of saying that the kingdom always lies beyond us.

No statement says all that could be said. No prayer fully expresses our faith. No confession brings perfection. No pastoral visit brings wholeness. No program accomplishes the Church’s mission. No set of goals and objectives includes everything.

This is what we are about: We plant the seeds that will one day grow. We water seeds already planted, knowing that they hold future promise. We lay foundations that will need further development. We provide yeast that produces effects far beyond our capabilities.

We cannot do everything, and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that. This enables us to do something, and to do it well. It may be incomplete but it is a beginning, a step along the way, an opportunity for the Lord’s grace to enter and do the rest.

We may never see the end results, but that is the difference between the master builder and the worker. We are workers, not master builders; ministers, not messiahs. We are prophets of a future not our own."

- Archbishop Oscar Arnulfo Romero of El Salvador (1917-1980)

How true. How restful to work today in "branch" mode.
Charismatic Dimension PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Monday, 11 May 2009 06:28
We're still alive and kicking. Fr. Mike is on retreat this week.

I'm working madly and discovering the limits of internet research and my own meagre library when what I need is access to a really, really big theological library and oh, about 6 months. Instead of 12 days. I know that I get a bit obsessed (Ok, Fr. Mike - more than a bit) when working on projects like this. Too much is never enough, you know.

I've been meditating on the whole "charismatic dimension" of the Church this past weekend as I prepare the course in the theology of the laity that I'll be teaching in a couple weeks.

When I talk about "charismatic dimension" I don't mean the formal charismatic renewal but the whole aspect of the Church's life that flows out of what the Holy Spirit can and will do through one person's "yes", the actual graces and charisms that God pours out on his people so that they can be instruments of his love and provision for the whole world.

As Pope John Paul II said in his address to the 1998 gathering of lay movements:

"Whenever the Spirit intervenes, he leaves people astonished. He brings about events of amazing newness; he radically changes persons and history. This was the unforgettable experience of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council during which, under the guidance of the same Spirit, the Church rediscovered the charismatic dimension as one of her constitutive elements: "It is not only through the sacraments and the ministrations of the Church that the Holy Spirit makes holy the people, leads them and enriches them with his virtues. Allotting his gifts according as he wills (cf. 1 Cor 12:11), he also distributes special graces among the faithful of every rank.... He makes them fit and ready to undertake various tasks and offices for the renewal and building up of the Church" (Lumen gentium, n. 12).

The institutional and charismatic aspects are co-essential as it were to the Church's constitution. They contribute, although differently, to the life, renewal and sanctification of God's People. It is from this providential rediscovery of the Church's charismatic dimension that, before and after the Council, a remarkable pattern of growth has been established for ecclesial movements and new communities.

5. Today the Church rejoices at the renewed confirmation of the prophet Joel's words which we have just heard: "I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh" (Acts 2:17). You, present here, are the tangible proof of this "outpouring" of the Spirit. Each movement is different from the others, but they are all united in the same communion and for the same mission. Some charisms given by the Spirit burst in like an impetuous wind, which seizes people and carries them to new ways of missionary commitment to the radical service of the Gospel, by ceaselessly proclaiming the truths of faith, accepting the living stream of tradition as a gift and instilling in each person an ardent desire for holiness.

Today, I would like to cry out to all of you gathered here in St. Peter's Square and to all Christians: Open yourselves docilely to the gifts of the Spirit! Accept gracefully and obediently the charisms which the Spirit never ceases to bestow on us! Do not forget that every charism is given for the common good, that is, for the benefit of the whole Church."

In every era, where there has been renewal or new vigor in the Church, the charismatic dimension is abundantly present. This aspect of God's working in and through the non-ordained, through quite ordinary Christian men and women who were not religious, was so visible to many in the early 20th century, that there was no real debate about whether nor not one of the schemas discussed during the Second Vatican Council should be about the laity. Even though no other council in history had ever addressed the topic.

There was no debate because the power and fruitfulness of groups like The Legion of Mary, the Catholic Worker, and Friendship House (Catherine Doherty's apostolate at the time), had been so obvious in the midst of the challenges of the 20th century and so well-known that it was clear to practically everyone that an ecumenical council could not be held without dealing with this issue.

There was intense controversy about many things at V2: religious liberty, freedom of conscience, the liturgy, the exact relationship of Scripture and Tradition, the role of bishops.

But not about the need for a Decree on the Laity.

That was why in 1965, when an British bishop introduced Frank Duff, the founder of the Legion of Mary and one of the lay auditors, 2,500 bishops at the Council rose and gave Duff a spontaneous standing ovation.

It is fascinating to read the actual debates on the Decree on the Laity. And to hear one bishop after bishop remark on how difficult it was to give a clear, positive definition of the laity. What could be said about the laity, escept that they are baptized Christians who are not ordained?

So used were theologians to thinking of the laity purely in contrast to the clergy. Defining them primarily as "not ordained."

It was the work of the Holy Spirit through lay Catholics across many years and in many cultures that convinced the Council Fathers that much, much more could be said - and needed to be said.
Trends in Global Christianity: part 2 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Michael Fones   
Thursday, 07 May 2009 07:31

Yesterday, I began a post about likely demographic changes in Christianity, according to an historian and religious studies professor, Philip Jenkins. Pope Benedict, XVI, in speaking about the nature of the Second Vatican Council, brought up the idea of continuity and discontinuity. The faith of the Church is continuous, but the cultures in which it lives are discontinuous, so the faith has to be expressed differently to different cultures, and differently within the same culture as it undergoes various discontinuities, such as revolutions (political, artistic, scientific or philosophical, for example).

Jenkins' article speaks to this concept, without mentioning it. He writes of a conversation he had with Archbishop Bernard Malango, head of the Anglican Church in Central Africa. The Archbishop commented that he has never presided at a funeral where there were less than twelve bodies. Jenkins writes,
When you consider the overwhelming nature of such poverty and the universal presence of such death, you have a better idea of what this means for the growth of Christianity. You can better understand the attraction of John 10:10, a verse that has been described as the life-verse of the African continent: 'I come so that they might have life and have it more abundantly.' In such a context, life does not refer merely to spiritual life; it means material life and material well-being. Otherwise, faith is empty. Healing and the welfare of body and mind go together. Otherwise, religion is false.
Trends in Global Christianity, P. Jenkins, in The New Evangelization: Overcoming the Obstacles, Boguslawski and Martin, eds., Paulist Press, 2008, p. 147
He goes on to describe how healing holds a primary place in the faith that is spreading throughout Africa. During a healing service in Uganda, which will likely be one of the most Christian nations by the middle of this century, a woman reported that she had been healed of a spinal ailment. When she said this, others in the congregation started to give testimony of how they had been healed by various ailments. In an attempt to end the service, a deacon listed various illnesses and asked for a show of hands of how many had been healed from them, and dozens of people raised their hands. And this during a healing service in a Catholic church. The miracles occurred during exposition of the Blessed Sacrament!

On a continent in which Christianity rubs shoulders with Islam and pagan, animist religions, the differences among Christians are not so important. Jenkins suggests,
Our Western labels do not apply to Christians in the Global South. If you ask a Nigerian member of the Anglican Church - an outrageously successful Church that counted 5 million members back in 1978, 18 million members today, and a projected 36 million members by 2025 - whether they are evangelical, Catholic or Charismatic, they will answer each question with an absolute and sincere "yes." ... What we call the Charismatic or Pentecostal style prevails in Churches across the board in these countries, including Catholic and Anglican Churches. ibid, p. 148.
In the poor, global south, where life expectancies are almost half what they are in Europe and the U.S., the message of Jesus has a different accent. For example, in Luke 4 Jesus announces, "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord." Lk 4:18-19 We in the west often associate liberation with the advocates of liberation theology, and deliverance (from evil spirits) as something associated with Pentecostals - two groups from different ends of the political spectrum. But for people who are desperately poor, deliverance and liberation are the same thing.

Jenkins shares an amusing story,
Not long ago, a white, middle-class, Adventist pastor from the United States was visiting an Adventist congregation in South Africa...The church was surprised by his visit, but welcomed him with open arms. When word of his presence reached the pastor in charge of the congregation, the pastor made an announcement that, he assumed, would be received as an honor: "My friends, I have wonderful news for you. Pastor Smith has come to visit us all the way rom the United States. I will ask him to conduct tonight's exorcism." Picture the consternation that this announcement caused for the visiting pastor! How many seminaries here in the United States - or in the entire Western world for that matter - prepare its graduates to deal with issues concerning healing and spiritual warfare? However, in the Global South, if you do not have a healing ministry that occupies a prominent place in your congregation, people will leave your church and go to others where they will find a healing ministry. ibid p. 149
In our society, we have other medical options, and Jenkins is not suggesting we abandon them. However, I wonder if part of the reason we do not see much in the way of extraordinary healings is because, like in Nazareth, Jesus finds little faith in us?

Furthermore, despite the imminent release of a movie titled, "Angels and Demons," we have trivialized the former and denied the existence of the latter, for the most part - even though the New Testament is filled with references to healing, exorcism, angels and demons! We may demonize our political opponents, but we wouldn't think that they were actually being influenced by a demon. And if we did, we almost certainly wouldn't know how to discern if that were the case.

In this context, the Called & Gifted workshop has been a tremendous boon in my spiritual life. It has helped me recognize how God is still active in this world through his servants, and how the stories of the New Testament, particularly the stories of healings, exorcisms, and mass conversions in the Acts of the Apostles are not hyperbole, myth or wishful thinking, but - dare I say it - normative Christianity! The fact that we might look at the expression of Christianity, including Catholic Christianity, in Africa and find it "foreign," says a lot about us. And the fact that Africans and Latin Americans experience the power of the Holy Spirit at work in their communities may well lead them to look at our expression of faith as bland and sterile.

Jenkins ends his article with a serious challenge.
We need to take seriously the approaches that we encounter among our brothers and sisters from Asia, Africa, and Latin America, especially in terms of healing, spiritual warfare, and a literal definition of evil. We Euro-American Christians have to take stock of what we believe and see where it comes from. What is Christian and what is cultural and intrinsic to our Western culture? If, for example, you ask some of the pastors of these African churches where they derive their "strange and bizarre" ideas, they will simply smile at you and patiently explain that they are found in the Book of Acts, where they are quite commonplace. It is good to recall that Christianity reached Europe through St. Paul, who had a vision in a dream and whose concept of the Church was akin to that of these African pastors. ibid, pp. 151-152.

Trends in Global Christianity PDF Print E-mail
Written by Michael Fones   
Wednesday, 06 May 2009 11:08
On the plane trips home from Orlando, I finished the book, "The New Evangelization: Overcoming the Obstacles," edited by Fr. Steven Boguslawski, OP and Ralph Martin. One of the last essays was written by Philip Jenkins, Distinguished Professor of History and Religious Studies at Penn State University. In it, Dr. Jenkins wrote of the sea change taking place in Christianity - including Catholicism - that Sherry has written about in other posts. Basically, the white, Eurocentric church will soon be a thing of the past.

Jenkins points out In the world today, there are around about 2.1 billion Christians distributed as follows:
531 million live in Europe
511 million live in Latin America
389 million live in Africa
226 million live in North America
By 2050, Christianity will be the religion of Africa and the African diaspora. By then, there will be about 3 billion Christians in the world. Of those, the proportion of those who will be white and who will not be Latino will be only somewhere between one-fifth and one-sixth of the total. Looking at projections for the year 2050 regarding the Christian population of the world, the United States will be at the head of the list of individual countries, followed by such countries as Brazil, Mexico, the Philippines, Nigeria, the Congo, Ethiopia, and China. However, many of the Christians in the United States at that time will be of Hispanic, Asian, or African origin. In fact, by the year 2050, one-third of all Americans will have Latino or Asian roots - roots that will be overwhelmingly Christian. This does not include those Americans of African origin, people who are either African Americans or of more recent African stock. In a sense, the notion of 'Western Christianity' that we still speak of today will be a memory of the past.
In the U.S. we have no real notion of how much Christianity has grown in Africa, even though African priests in our parishes are becoming more and more common. In 1900 Africa had 1.9 million Catholics, but by 2000, the number had grown to 130 million, a gross increase of 6,708%, and part of the largest shift in religious affiliation that has ever occurred. That figure is projected to grow to 230 million by 2025 (only sixteen years away - less than a generation), at which time African Catholics will represent one-sixth of all members of the Catholic Church worldwide. The Church is shifting to the south, and becoming browner. In fact, the projected change in Catholic population between now and 2050 looks like this
Africa 146% increase
Asia 63% increase
Latin America and the Caribbean 42% increase
North America 38% increase
Europe 6% decrease!

Jenkins points out we have to remember that the history of the spread of Christianity is not the story we usually think of: origins in Palestine, spread across the Mediterranean into Europe, then crossing the Atlantic to America. "By the time Christianity reached Anglo-Saxon England in the seventh century, there were Christians in Ethiopia who were in their tenth generation. Around the year 1000, there were considerably more Christians in Asia than in Europe."

And the expression of faith in the global south looks very different from most Westerner's. It looks more like the Acts of the Apostles, in fact. But that's worth it's own post, and I've run out of time... More later, so stay tuned!
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