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Blast From the Past: Hispanic Presence

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This week, at the RCIA in my parish, I will be discussing the history of the Church in America. Ergo, this week I will use this space to highlight some of my favorite parts of that talk, especially the ones, like this one, which show the contemporary relevance of history:

As we mentioned, Columbus brought the Catholic faith with him and the first bishop to arrive in the Western Hemisphere was the bishop of Puerto Rico, Don Alonso Manso, who took possession of his see in 1513. Most of his cathedral was burned in the nineteenth century but parts of the church date back to the sixteenth century and up the street, the church of San Jose remains in tact. There is an historical notation in the church’s architecture. The church sanctuary and transepts have beautiful stonework, but in the nave there is only stucco. The change represents the change of monarchs in Spain – Charles V was a great patron of the Church and his son Philip II was less generous, so the church had to be finished with the less expensive stucco.

Q & A: Beth Haile

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This week, we are continuing our discussion with young theologians who were involved with the Fordham Conversation Project. Today we hear from Beth Haile who is an instructor at Laboure College.

The question: From your perspective as a young theologian teaching in a Catholic university, how do you view the divisions in the American Catholic Church? Do you see things differently than the previous generation? Are there any signs of hope for healing our divisions?

Beth Haile: I would have to say that I am much more optimistic about the future of the Catholic Church than some of my colleagues. I write this on the feast day of St. Augustine, that great Catholic saint who, when faced with the Donatist controversy, did everything in his power to restore unity with those in disagreement with the Church. For Augustine, the Catholic Church would always remain imperfect while on this earth and would, therefore, have to tolerate sinners in the midst of its saints. St. Augustine reminds us that the true church is always a little-c catholic church.

Beck,Liberation Theology and Values

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Some of my posts anger the right. Some needle the left. This is one of my favorites, where I get to make both camps upset!

Mr. Glenn Beck, in an interview on Fox News where he was busy backtracking from his charge that the President of the United States is a racist who hates white people, impugned the President for his theological influences, specifically liberation theology. My friend and colleague Father Jim Martin, SJ, came to the defense of liberation theology in a post at America magazine. Alas, the problem with liberation theology and the problem with Beck’s touting of “Judeo-Christian ethics” is the same problem. Both reduce our Christian faith to ethics.

Glenn Beck's Rally & the Banality of Goodness

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Watching the Glenn Beck rally on the Mall, Mr. Beck has proven true to his word. The rally is not political if by political one means partisan. Every moment, every speech, every song has a feel good, I Love America, quality to it. A phrase, slightly modified from the original, fills my mind: The Banality of Goodness.

Who doesn’t honor our troops? Who doesn’t admire Albert Pujols and his work with Down Syndrome children? Who doesn’t think honor is better than dishonor? Who doesn’t think family is important? Who is opposed to charity? The only thing missing as far as I can tell is the tribute to apple pie.

Q & A: Professor Michael Peppard

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We close out this week of hearing from young theologians with commentary from Michael Peppard, Assistant Professor of Theology at Fordham University and one of the founders of the Fordham Conversation Project.

The question: From your perspective as a young theologian teaching in a Catholic university, how do you view the divisions in the American Catholic Church? Do you see things differently than the previous generation? Are there any signs of hope for healing our divisions?

Professor Peppard: In my experience as an educator of Catholics at the high school, undergraduate, and graduate level, I can testify that I have hardly ever seen bitter, irreconcilable theological divisions among my students. For the most part, they are faithful, open-minded, and charitable in their disagreements. That’s the good news from where I stand. I’ll get to the bad news in a moment.

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