The Church as Community
LIVING THE CATHOLIC FAITH IN THE 3RD MILLENIUM
A LAYMAN'S LOOK AT THE JOURNEY OF FAITH

Church as Community

A UNIFORM CHURCH IS NO CHURCH 
The Pope in Santa Marta: we must purify her, starting from ourselves; 'each of us builds according to the gift that God has given'
'AMERICA' ON RELIGIOUS LIBERTY  
In light of the continuing debate around religious liberty and the rights of religious organizations, America magazine presents a collection of articles that have discussed, defended and articulated these issues over the past 70 years.
SPIRITUAL ASSAULT 
Catholics are looking for a church grounded in Scripture and animated by mutual respect and cooperation, one in which baptism, not ordination, has preeminence.
A MODEL FOR COMMITTED LAY LIFE DEDICATED TO PRAYER, PEACE, AND JUSTICE  
Lawyer Karen Gargamelli fulfilled her lifelong dream by forming a community of lay Catholics.
A PARISH IS THE BODY OF CHRIST - NOT A STARBUCKS FRANCHISE  
Simply Spirit: Too many bishops have adopted a corporate mentality that views parish communities as so many commercial franchises to be managed, rather than the living body of Christ.
A PASTORAL VISION 
From the moment the Second Vatican Council opened, it has consistently been described as a pastoral council, sometimes so insistently and unthinkingly that the expression has become a cliché.
A QUESTION OF CONSCIENCE 
Many U.S. Catholics find themselves stranded between those two worlds, especially when individual conscience comes into conflict with clear, if disputed, church teaching.
A SACRED CALLING 
Pope Francis has called us all not just to dialogue but to a better appreciation of our true relationship to one another. In an important way, this is a recovery of what is noble about politics.
A THING CALLED HOPE 
Moving through a new year, we need to remember the good that is being done, the challenges met. We humans are far from perfect but we ain't all bad either.
AMERICAN CHRISTIANITY IS CHANGING FAST 
The five key stories which evoke questions that religion-watches will be asking for years to come.
AN INVITATION TO LEISURE 
Leisure is not an absence of work, but a disposition of the soul to “perceptive understanding, of contemplative beholding, and immersion in the real.
ANNULMENT DECISION DIDN'T DROP OUT OF THE SKY 
This did not drop out of the sky. And it was not a unilateral, benevolently despotic act of the church’s supreme lawgiver. Bishops and priests from almost every part of the world have been calling for such a reform for a number of years.
AS PEWS EMPTY, REPORT REVEALS MORE ABOUT 'SPIRITUAL,' 'RELIGIOUS' 
The hunt is on for why pews are emptying. Have assumed convictions lost their grip, or were they ever there at all?
BEING A COMPANION THROUGH THE MYSTERY OF SUFFERING 
Being present for people who are suffering doesn't necessarily take any deep experience; it simply requires saying ‘yes' when the need presents itself.
BLACK LIVES, WHITE CATHOLICS 
Consulting and collaborating with historians, political scientists, sociologists, psychologists, and theologians can help reveal the scope and tenacity of racism.
BUILT OF LIVING STONES; 5 BLACK CATHOLICS TO REMEMBER 
Although the history of American Catholics is intertwined with the history of people of color, black Catholics have often been forgotten in the American church.
CAN CATHOLICS DISAGREE ONLY WHEN THEY AGREE WITH THE CHURCH? 
Is the new document from the International Theological Commission an explosion in St. Peter's Square that is described as church renewal?
CAN THE CHURCH CHANGE ITS FOCUS FROM RULES TO PEOPLE? 
Francis seems to recognize that the church is not an island but lives and operates in a larger world and a larger context.
CAN WHAT HAPPENED IN DELPHI HAPPEN IN ROME? 
The church is relevant so long as the teaching of Jesus is relevant. As the Letter to the Hebrews says, “Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8) Institutions come and go, but the Gospel goes on, speaking to the human heart.
CATECHESIS AS A WAY OF LIFE 
Robert B. Williams, practicing psychologist with an interest in catechesis and spiritual care, discusses invaluable developmental tasks for the family church.
CATHOLIC CHURCH LIKE A PLANE WITH METAL FATIGUE 
The overriding problem with the Church was that it operated as an empire, in an age when that model of governance was long since outdated.
CATHOLIC COMMUNITY DOESN'T LOOK THE SAME FOR EVERYONE 
Seeking and sustaining community is no easy feat, but its value is something we know in our very souls.
CATHOLIC CYBER-MILITIAS AND THE NEW CENSORSHIP 
The small groups that are behind the campaign have grown over the last few years. They make up a Catholic cyber-militia that include 'news' organizations like 'Church Militant'  and bloggers such as Fr John Zuhlsdorf, This sort of vitriol is profoundly changing the communion of the Catholic Church. And not just in its ethos, but also in the way it functions.
CATHOLICS WHO JUDGE 
Pope Francis has strongly criticized Catholics who brag that they are perfect followers of the church's teachings but then criticize or speak ill of others in their faith communities...
CHURCH URGED TO 'FEED THE SHEEP WHERE THEY ARE' - ON THE INTERNET 
The digital world is the richest, and limitless territory for evangelization ever devised, but Catholic communicators must be professional, creative and empathetic to realize its full potential.
DON'T BLAME FRANCIS FOR CHURCH'S DIVISIONS 
Pope Francis isn’t trying to drive conservative Catholics out of the church. But he has decisively put a stop to their efforts to eject everyone else.
DON'T PUT PRIESTS ON A PEDESTAL 
Finally there appears an issue that our divided church can agree on. Catholics of all stripes—conservatives and liberals and in-betweens—are declaring a pox on clericalism.
EMBRACING LIFE'S SECOND ACT - GETTING OLDER WITH GRACE 
Aging gracefully requires the courage to face our burdens, to accept our blessings, and to recreate our lives in new ways.
ENOUGH PROSELYTISM, IT'S TIME FOR 'SILENCE' 
The 'antiquated' concept of mission, or 'making proselytes and procuring converts to the Church,' must be replaced with 'dialogue.'
FAITH TO FAITH AND FACE TO FACE 
It is time for a change. And healthy religious people have a serious responsibility to be alert and to accept the challenge to critique and halt religious violence.
FINDING MERCY AT THE TABLE 
What is the special contribution of the once-broken, the imperfect, to a Christian community coming together to witness to God’s forgiving love?
FLYING SOLO: LIFE AS A SINGLE CATHOLIC 
Being single doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with you—it just means you’ve chosen a different path.
GOOD PASTORS ALWAYS LOOK, HAVE COMPASSION, TEACH 
A good pastor always sees what people are going through, feels compassion and then nourishes them with God's Word.
GRACE UNDER PRESSURE 
All special needs have the potential to be vehicles for God’s grace, bringing families to new places of love and acceptance.
GREATER THAN THE SUM OF ITS PARTS 
The church is not meant to be uniform, smooth, or uncomplicated—its many different faces, its unruly irregularity, is not a liability or a problem to be resolved, but instead its most precious asset.
HAS CATHOLIC INFIGHTING GOTTEN WORSE? 
Inside the Vatican Podcast: A discussion about the history of resistance to papal initiatives in the last 30 years. Is the current climate different from what happened during recent pontificates?
HOW CATHOLIC ARE U.S. CATHOLICS? 
More than 81 million U.S. adults identify themselves as Catholic. But how they live that identity — how they connect to the church beyond celebrating the popular Pope Francis — adds up very differently.
HOW THE CATHOLIC WORLD IS CHANGING 
Since Vatican II, Catholicism has experienced a dramatic shift in allegiance by region. Here is a global look at the demographics of the faith since 1965.
HOW THE LOCAL MOVEMENT IS REVITALIZING CHURCH 
Thousands of Christians are reclaiming the ancient idea of the “parish” and weaving together a shared life in the place they call home.
HOW TO WORK TOWARD INTERFAITH UNDERSTANDING 
You know you’re in for an interesting conversation when a lifelong Catholic says that getting to know and love Islam helped her develop a deep knowledge and love for her own Catholic faith.
IT IS TIME TO FIX OUR SUNDAY SCHOOL CULTURE 
When choosing to believe is more and more a revolutionary act, religious education must do much more than hand on the basic tenets of the faith.
IT'S A BRAVE NEW WORLD - EMBRACE IT 
Embracing newness as a mandate for spiritual growth isn’t a Pauline principle alone. Instead of being shaken to your core by the new and unknown, see it as an opportunity for spiritual growth.
IT'S TIME FOR CHRISTIANITY TO RE-EMPHASIZE RESURRECTION OF THE BODY 
To the surprise of some of its adherents, Christianity does not teach that each of us has an immortal soul. That, instead, is an old Greek idea, one that from time to time has weaseled its way into Christian thinking.
JESUS IS THE QUESTION, NOT THE ANSWER 
Knowing the ‘Catholic answer’ does little good if we’re not asking the right questions. If we aren’t careful to ask the right questions, no matter which answers we arrive at, they are sure to be woefully inadequate.
JESUS LOVED IMPERFECT PEOPLE 
Each of us must discover the directions in which we will find our holiness. This is the goal of a lifelong education, not merely to make a living but to find out what living is for.
LAYPEOPLE ARE CREATING A BLUEPRINT FOR THE CHURCH'S SUCCESS 
While the Catholic Church may not be your average business, good management of people, programs, and resources is essential for achieving its mission of spreading the Gospel.
LET'S ALL AGREE TO 'LIVE IN TENSION' 
Pope Francis to the Vatican diplomatic corps: 'abandon the familiar rhetoric and start from the essential consideration that we are dealing, above all, with persons.'
MAKE THE CATHOLIC CHURCH GREAT AGAIN? THERE'S NO GOING BACK 
There has never been a 'great' time, a 'golden age,' a context in which the church was actually a 'perfect society' or anything apart from what it always has been and remains: a pilgrim community of the baptized.
NONES; - A MIXED BAG 
If people come back to church because of Francis but find a communities and clergy that are judgmental rather than compassionate, all about rules rather than love, they will head for the exit and never return.
OUR CHILDREN MIGHT RETURN TO THE CHURCH, BUT OUR GRANDCHILDREN MOST LIKELY WON’T 
It is no surprise that the children of the Church are growing up and growing out of Church. What is surprising is that they are not returning.
STARVING IN THE PEWS 
The good news about preaching the good news is that you don’t have to be a brilliant scholar or captivating orator to do it.
THE CALL OF THE BAPTIZED; LIVING THE MISSION 
Dr. Paul Lakeland on the challenges facing the church which seem attainable precisely because they dovetail so well with Pope Francis’s ideas on Church reform.
THE CHURCH INSIDE THE CATHOLIC CHURCH 
If an institution such as the Catholic Church were to say that women are fully equal, fully capable of leading, fully capable of empowerment, think of what kind of message that would send to patriarchal societies all over the world.
THE CHURCH ISN'T STATIC - SHE'S A PILGRIM ON A JOURNEY 
Pope Francis in his weekly general audience said that the Church on earth is on a pilgrimage to heaven guided by the Lord, who will lead us to the fullness of joy and truth at the end of time.
THE CHURCH MAY BE MORE RESILIENT THAN WE THINK 
Our church and our civic institutions are in trouble today. They need us. To repair our church and civic organizations, we need to recall why they are important.
THE CHURCH'S FUTURE DEPENDS ON MISSION, NOT MAINTENANCE 
Chicago Archbishop Blaise Cupich knows the church is changing and says that Catholics should discern faithfully how to move forward together.
THE ERA OF THE PAROCHIAL SCHOOL IS OVER. MEET THE CATHOLIC EDUCATORS SEARCHING FOR WHAT’S NEXT 
How much power should be given to the laity and how much retained by the hierarchy?  Today Catholic schools are shifting some of that authority from pastors and principals to other sources.
THE EXODUS HITS HOME 
Is our Catholic parish structure inadequate for supporting the needs of adult Christians? How many more departures will have to happen before our faith community and its leaders take this exodus more seriously.
THE UNCERTAIN FUTURE OF PARISH LIFE 
We need a new, creative, more imaginative approach to serving the pastoral needs of the people of God than the parochial principle inherited from the village and agrarian societies of the past.
WE HAVE NO SHORTAGE OF VOCATIONS. WHAT WE HAVE IS A SHORTAGE OF VISION 
It's hard to fathom how church leaders can in good conscience avoid opening ordination, especially in light of so many parish closings.
WHO REPRESENTS THE LAITY? 
The problem is not that these new lay members are particularly liberal or conservative; the problem is that the ecclesial movements they represent are hardly representative of the Catholic laity overall.
JESUS' THIRD WAY IS WHAT I TRY TO PRACTICE 
We are made to be connected to one another. When we forget that, we destroy a part of ourselves. 'As a body is one though it has many parts, and all the parts of the body, though many, are one body, so also Christ.'
HAS OUR FAITH GONE LUKEWARM? 
Lukewarm Christianity will not be enough anymore, whether among our leaders or ourselves in the pews. To repair our broken church (which remains the best hope for our broken world), we must really live our baptismal calling every day.
YOUR THOUGHTS ON LEAVING THE CHURCH, PART TWO 
Responses to Melinda Henneberger's "Why I left the church, and what I'm hearing about it" from NCR readers.
IN DIVISIVE TIMES, CHESTERTON INSPIRES UNITY 
At a time when Catholics seem to be split between conservative or progressive factions, the life and works of English writer G. K. Chesterton can inspire men and women in the church to rise above conflict.
REMEDIES FOR AMERICAN CATHOLIC POLARIZATION 
Those hoping for a quick fix to the problem of Catholic polarization are sadly out of luck.
THE BEATITUDES IN THE AGE OF ME FIRST 
We may not have the temperament to be on the frontlines of change but we can change the way we see ourselves, our neighbor and the world and choose resurrection now.
WE IN THE PEWS MUST NO LONGER SIMPLY PRAY & PAY 
Disappointed and angered once again by the Catholic Church, we lay people must act to protect our faith.
WHAT CHRIST IN THE EUCHARIST TEACHES US ABOUT TIME AND ETERNITY  
In the Eucharist, the risen Christ breaks into time, into our midst, and there he gathers the fragments of our failures and our frustrations into his arms, transforming them...
ROME CONFERENCE PONDERS THE RISE OF ‘EVERYDAY’ LAY SAINTS 
A new emphasis on holiness as something attainable and which should be pursued by all members of the Church, not just priests and consecrated people.
BECOMING CATHOLIC IN THE AGE OF SCANDAL 
At Easter, thousands of people converted to Catholicism even as sex abuse allegations have rocked the church.
‘THE FUTURE IS BRIGHT: I’M CONVINCED OF THAT’ 
What is the experience of being a priest today, serving in an ordinary parish, in a Church that is struggling to maintain its credibility?
THOUGH COMPLICIT IN EVIL, THE CHURCH IS WHERE HOPE BEGINS 
We can no longer afford to be so naive about the church.
IS GOD BECOMING NON-PARTISAN? 
Questions about what Christianity really means? What the Bible actually says? And what parts of the Gospel are most relevant today?
IN A DIVIDED CHURCH, A CHALLENGE TO FIND WHAT UNITES US 
We owe good faith to fellow believers, even those with different perspectives.
THESE MILLENNIALS GOT NEW ROOMMATES. THEY’RE NUNS 
A project called Nuns and Nones moved religion-free millennials into a convent.
LINGERING ON THE MARGINS 
Is the language of staying or leaving, of being inside or outside the church, failing to capture the experiences of many people who live with these tensions?  Does going to the margins actually take you to the center of the church?
FOR NUNS AND NONES' SIX-MONTH PILOT PROGRAM, MILLENNIALS MOVE IN 
For six months Mercy sisters and spiritually curious millennials gathered and lived in this suburb south of San Francisco.
HOW TO SURVIVE THE CATHOLIC CHURCH AND NOT LOSE FAITH 
An invitation to commitment, an awareness that is sometimes bitter, more often ironic, about the life of our parishes, told by those who frequent it and try to improve it.
STEPPING BACK  
What the high-octane pace of news coverage does to our mental and emotional wellbeing.
FROM THE INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION TO THE DIGITAL, WHAT GUIDES US ON 'NEW THINGS'? 
The signs indicate that the church really can't afford to bring more dehumanization to the table.
POPE FRANCIS CALLS US TO BUILD BRIDGES. LET’S START IN OUR PARISHES 
The church in the United States is in the midst of a profound transformation that is manifested vividly at the parish level.
THE RISE OF EWTN: FROM PIETY TO PARTISANSHIP 
An NCR multi-part series looking at the effect of money on the Catholic narrative both inside the church and beyond.
FRANCIS CONTINUES TO MAKE US ALL A BIT UNCOMFORTABLE 
From his stance on migrants to his encyclical Laudato si', the pope causes controversy.
WHY LAPSED CATHOLICS CAN BE OUR BEST TEACHERS 
Lapsed artists are still pilgrims, walking in the mystery of God.
CATHOLIC CULTURE WARS 
Pope Francis has brought a major change to the culture of the Church. Pastoral care is his top priority. He has changed the balance in the culture wars.
JESUS TELLS US TO BECOME FIRE. HERE’S HOW TO CLAIM YOUR FLAME 
The church commissions us at baptism to keep the flame of faith alive in our hearts. We are called to embody the divine blaze.
WHY THE POPE PROBABLY WASN’T TROLLING TRUMP ON POPULISM 
Pronouncements are intentionally crafted to extend across space and time - in other words, not to refer directly to any specific personality or situation.
DO CATHOLICS 'ACTUALLY' BELIEVE IN THE REAL PRESENCE? 
With other studies' very different results, scholars question recent headline-making survey
ADAPTING TO A ‘WORLD CHURCH’ 
Finally, efforts are underway to understand Vatican II in light of a global Catholic Church. Massimo Faggioli on a new, culturally diverse commentary.
WHAT LEONARD BERNSTEIN’S ‘MASS’ TELLS US ABOUT OUR CHURCH 
'Mass' tells us something true about our church and ourselves. We should not be afraid to hear it.
THE EUCHARIST IS ABOUT MORE THAN CHRIST BECOMING PRESENT 
Like the Pew Research Center, Catholics have an impoverished idea of what the Eucharist is really all about.
RELIGIOUS AND POET: FATHER GABRIEL RINGLET, A MAVERICK 
'We have a conception of the priest and the priesthood that are part of the false sacred'
WHAT IT MEANS TO BE AN ‘INCLUSIVE’ CHURCH 
One day, we’ll look back on this debate in the church and realise that this was the moment when we truly discovered what lay in store for us in the kingdom of God.
WHEN PROFESSIONAL CATHOLICS BURN OUT 
Working for the church can make it hard to believe in it.
TO RESCUE A SINKING CHURCH, THINK MISSION NOT MEMBERSHIP  
The American Catholic Church is at a crossroads. Will it choose safety or discipleship?
AMAZON SYNOD ORGANIZERS DEFEND FOCUS ON DISPUTED ISSUES, CITE REGION'S NEEDS 
It's about evangelization: how do we keep doing the work for which the church exists?
JOHN HENRY NEWMAN CALLS CATHOLICS TO BE 'MISSIONARY DISCIPLES' 
It is not that the Church of God has a mission, but that the mission of God has a Church.
THE JOYFUL WAY TO EVANGELIZE 
The goal is to form a relationship with the hope that the real work of evangelization, the work of the Holy Spirit, can be achieved.
IN PRAISE OF FRAGMENTS 
We’re fortunate as Christians to have four gospels. And each of them is in a sense a fragment of the wider New Testament. And within each of them, there are certain fragments.
HOW TO BE A MISSIONARY TODAY 
The act of serving and evangelizing has continually evolved since the time of Jesus.
FRANCIS TAKES JOHN PAUL II'S 'BE NOT AFRAID!' TO NEW LEVELS 
For an institution that has no clear processes in place to effect change, there was a mashup of evidence during recent weeks in Rome that some significant change is, in fact, under way.
THE WEALTH OF INDIGENOUS PEOPLES 
It is important to reflect on the thought of Francis, and as the Synod begins it is useful to highlight these four elements, fruit of the reflections of the pontiff during his Argentine years.
WITH NEWMAN, THE CHURCH GAINS ITS 'SAINT FOR MODERN TIMES' 
Blessed John Henry Newman widely seen as an architect of the modern church
WE ARE ALL TOILING IN THE SHADOW OF ST. JOHN HENRY NEWMAN 
If the church in our own time is looking for a way to get past its ideological divisions, we could all start by reading Newman honestly...
CARDINAL NEWMAN A SAINT FOR THE MODERN AGE 
Newman offers a model for Catholics trying to engage in public life - why this giant of the 19th century has just as much relevance for today’s Catholics.
IN MANHATTAN, A PARISH WHERE PEOPLE 'WANT TO BE' 
"People will go out of their way to come here for the liturgy, for the community, for preaching that's not afraid to engage the issues at hand," says the new pastor.
BE THE CHURCH YOU WISH TO SEE IN THE WORLD 
As the church reels from the clergy abuse scandal, one writer finds hope in her personal connections with other Catholics.
ARCHBISHOP CONDEMNS CATHOLIC KEYBOARD WARRIORS 
A Catholicism of self-defined certainties will lead eventually to a doubt about all certainties and thus to emptiness.
CHURCH OLD AND NEW: THE EMERGING CHURCH 
These shifts may be the very reason we are currently so divided as Christians, with some clinging to an older way of doing and thinking while others are pulling in these new and “emerging” directions.
BETWEEN NAZARETH AND BETHLEHEM: JESUS’ ORIGINS IN THE GOSPEL 
The complex presentation of the origins of Jesus embodies a tension between continuity and rupture, old and new, expectation and surprise in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
IN TIME OF CRISIS, THE CHURCH MUST BE RENEWED 
At times of great crisis in the Catholic Church, God intervened to renew it through the example and witness of saints, said Archbishop Leonard P. Blair of Hartford, Connecticut.
SHE CAN DO ANYTHING 
For Patti Smith, turbulence of spirit is the mark of a great artist. It is also related to hope and faith because, ultimately, it leads to charity, the ability to join one’s suffering with that of others...
DIALOGUE BEGINS WITH EMPATHY, NOT CONTEMPT 
Christians who preach the Gospel must see people who do not know Christ as children of God and not as nonbelievers worthy of hostility and contempt...
THE LATIN MASS BECOMES A CULT OF TOXIC TRADITION  
In the wake of much needed reforms instituted by the Second Vatican Council, the Latin Mass has become a rallying point for change-resistant sects within the church.
TAKING THE ROLE OF ALL THE BAPTIZED IN CHURCH LEADERSHIP SERIOUSLY  
Is “leadership” just another way of talking about the hierarchy and nothing else? Is “leadership” merely synonymous with the gifts of authoritative teaching intrinsic to the episcopal order?
CHURCHES EVER EMPTIER. TWO SURVEYS IN THE UNITED STATES AND ITALY 
In the United States there is a noteworthy survey by the Washington-based Pew Research Center, to which on November 13 “L’Osservatore Romano” also dedicated an article.
IF A LITTLE CATHOLIC CONFUSION EXISTS, MAYBE IT IS A BLESSING 
The organized opposition to Pope Francis and his more pastoral approach grows more vociferous, with the word "confusion" often applied...