CALLED TO BE CATHOLIC
Catholic Common Ground Initiative’s Founding Statement
Called to Be Catholic was prepared by the National Pastoral Life Center in consultation with Catholic men and women serving the church and society in a variety of callings who were sensitive to the diversity of Catholicism in the United States. This statement provides the basis for the Catholic Common Ground Initiative. All organizations and groups in the church are invited to consider the Called to Be Catholic statement and its applications to their meetings, conferences, and deliberations. Responses to the statement are welcome and may be sent to the Catholic Common Ground Initiative.
This statement may be reproduced at will.
Some excerpts below: from here
“Yet in many parishes Mass attendance has plummeted; congregational participation is indifferent; and liturgies are marred by lack of preparation, casual or rushed gestures, unsuitable music, and banal sentiments in hymns and, above all, in homilies. There is widespread awareness that, thirty years after the Council, the goals of liturgical renewal have been met more in letter than in spirit.
But again polarization blocks a candid and constructive response to the situation. An informal or “horizontal” liturgy, demystified and stressing the participation of the congregation, is pitted against a solemn or “vertical” liturgy, unchangeable and focused on the sacerdotal action of the priest. The former is rightly feared as unable to carry the weight of the transcendent, and as opening the liturgy to the trivializing currents of the culture. The latter is rightly feared as becoming a concert, a show, or a spiritless exercise in rubrics, closed to the particular needs and gifts of the community. No effort to assess the state of worship or develop new translations or refresh liturgical skills escapes suspicion of moving to one extreme or the other–or pressure to move in the opposite direction as a safeguard.”
Jesus Christ, present in Scripture and sacrament, is central to all that we do; he must always be the measure and not what is measured.
The revitalized Catholic common ground, we suggested, will be marked by a willingness to approach the church’s current situation with fresh eyes, open minds, and changed hearts. It will mean pursuing disagreements in a renewed spirit of dialogue. Specifically, we urge that Catholics be guided by working principles like these:
We should recognize that no single group or viewpoint in the church has a complete monopoly on the truth. While the bishops united with the Pope have been specially endowed by God with the power to preserve the true faith, they too exercise their office by taking counsel with one another and with the experience of the whole church, past and present. Solutions to the church’s problems will almost inevitably emerge from a variety of sources.
We should not envision ourselves or any one part of the church a saving remnant. No group within the church should judge itself alone to be possessed of enlightenment or spurn the Catholic community, its leaders, or its institutions as unfaithful.
We should test all proposals for their pastoral realism and potential impact on individuals as well as for their theological truth. Pastoral effectiveness is a responsibility of leadership.
We should presume that those with whom we differ are acting in good faith. They deserve civility, charity, and a good-faith effort to understand their concerns. We should not substitute labels, abstractions, or blanketing terms–“radical feminism,” “the hierarchy,” “the Vatican”–for living, complicated realities.
We should put the best possible construction on differing positions, addressing their strongest points rather than seizing upon the most vulnerable aspects in order to discredit them. We should detect the valid insights and legitimate worries that may underlie even questionable arguments.
We should be cautious in ascribing motives. We should not impugn another’s love of the church and loyalty to it. We should not rush to interpret disagreements as conflicts of starkly opposing principles rather than as differences in degree or in prudential pastoral judgments about the relevant facts.
We should bring the church to engage the realities of contemporary culture, not by simple defiance or by naive acquiescence, but acknowledging, in the fashion of Gaudium et Spes, both our culture’s valid achievements and real dangers.
Ultimately, the fresh eyes and changed hearts we need cannot be distilled from guidelines. They emerge in the space created by praise and worship. The revitalized Catholic common ground will be marked by a determined pastoral effort to keep the liturgy, above all, from becoming a battleground for confrontation and polarization, and to treasure it as the common worship of God through Jesus Christ in the communion of the Holy Spirit.”