101 Questions and Answers on the Church

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780809142507
  • Publisher: Paulist Press
  • Publication date: 9/28/2003
  • Series: Responses to 101 Questions... Ser.
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 176
  • Product dimensions: 5.56 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.47 (d)

Table of Contents

The 101 questions and responses
1 My husband is a Methodist : just up the street from my parish church there is a Maronite Catholic church and around the corner there's a Russian Orthodox church with an onion-shaped dome : I'm confused : when we refer to "the church," what exactly do we mean? 5
2 If "the church" is one, how can we speak about many "churches"? 6
3 "What do you mean by the term "local church"? 7
4 For what purpose does the church exist, at whatever level? 8
5 How do you define the church? 9
6 The definition, you said, includes all Christians : but how would you define the "Catholic" church? 10
7 Do we still speak of the marks of the church today? 12
8 Is the Catholic church still to be considered as the "one, true church" of Christ? 14
9 Is the church necessary for salvation? 14
10 You say that Catholicism is a rich and diverse reality : I thought Catholicism is the same all over the world : how can it be "diverse"? 16
11 Was Jesus the founder of the church? 18
12 Did Jesus ordain the twelve apostles at the Last Supper and then instruct them to hand on their apostolic powers to successors? 19
13 Even if, as you say, Jesus did not regard his community of disciples as a religious movement separate from Judaism, didn't the early church think of itself as a new religion? 21
14 Was Peter the first pope and did he have immediate succesors? 22
15 Were there bishops in the early church? 24
16 How did the early church organize itself for its mission? 25
17 When did the present system of bishops, priests, and deacons begin? 26
18 What kind of authority did Jesus give his apostles and their successors? 27
19 Did the bishops have teaching authority from the beginning? 28
20 What pastoral or ministerial roles did women play in the early church? 29
21 What are we to make of Paul's negative statements about women in the church? 30
22 Among the many images of the church, is there any one image that stands out? 31
23 Would you say that conflicts in the church today are worse than at any other time in history? 33
24 If the universal church is a communion of local churches, how did the local churches keep in touch with one another in the early centuries? 35
25 I've read somewhere that the so-called "Barbarian invasions" had a lot to do with the way the church developed in the Middle Ages and even today : what impact, if any, did they have on the life of the church? 37
26 There have been over 260 popes in the history of the church : why do you say that Gregory VII was one of the most important? 38
27 How has canon law affected the life and practice of the church? 40
28 We have always heard a lot about "bad popes," but other than the infamous Alexander VI, how many "bad popes" have there been, and what difference do they make to Catholic belief in the pope? 41
29 Who were the antipopes? 43
30 I take it that the history of the popes contains a lot of unusual stories : is there any one that stands out from the rest? 44
31 Why did the Greek and Russian orthodox break away from the Catholic church? 45
32 Wasn't there a situation back in the Middle Ages when three cardinals claimed to be pope, all at the same time? : how did this come about, and how was the problem resolved? 47
33 You mentioned conciliarism in reference to the Great Western Schism : what is conciliarism? 48
34 In this age of ecumenism, has the thinking of the Catholic church changed regarding the Protestant Reformation? 49
35 How did the Catholic church respond to the reformation? 50
36 Most of us are at least generally aware of the Second Vatican Council and of its overall importance in the life of the church today, but we don't hear very much, if anything at all, concerning the First Vatican Council : what was that council all about, and does it continue to have any significance for Catholics today? 51
37 I've heard some Catholics complain that there is a new wave of Modernism in the church today: what's wrong with being "modern"? : isn't it better to be up-to-date than behind-the-times? 53
38 What is an ecumenical council, and how does its authority differ from the pope's? 54
39 You say that there have been twenty-one ecumenical councils in the history of the church and that some are more important than others : where do you place the second vatican council? 55
40 You said earlier that the First Vatican Council was important for its teaching on faith and on the papacy : what was the Second Vatican Council's most important teaching? 56
41 You emphasize the council's teaching that the church is a mystery : obviously you're not using the term in the sense that we speak of a murder-mystery : what exactly does it mean to refer to the Church as a mystery? 58
42 You also stressed the point that the church is the people of God, and not just the hierarchy or the clergy : are you implying that Christ set up the church as a kind of democracy where everything is decided by the people rather than by carefully selected leaders? 59
43 You seem to place great emphasis on the relationship between the church and the reign of God : I assume that the reign of God is the same as the kingdom of God : what does the reign, or kingdom, of God have to do with the church? 60
44 You say that the church's mission isn't limited to preaching, teaching, and the sacraments, that it includes action on behalf of justice : but doesn't this fly in the face of the council's own warnings against the church's becoming involved in politics at the expense of its spiritual mission? 62
45 But you seem to be oversimplifying the problem : are you saying that the church can involve itself in any social, economic, or political issue without fear or danger of compromising or violating its spiritual mission? 63
46 You use words like "communion" and "college" when speaking about the church : most Catholics I know think of "Holy Communion" when they hear the word "communion," and they probably think of big bills for room and board and tuition when they hear the word "college" : how is the church a "communion" and a "college"? 65
47 You say that the church participates in the life of the Trinity and that it is a communion animated by the Holy Spirit : but you also say that the church is always in need of penance and renewal : can these two statements be reconciled? 66
48 You say that the laity participate directly in the mission of the church and not simply as sharers in the mission of the hierarchy and clergy : but isn't that the way Christ set up his church, with authority given directly to the apostles and their successors and with the rest of us in only supporting roles? 67
49 If Jesus didn't establish his church as a democracy, how can we expect its leaders to exercise their God-given authority in any except an authoritarian manner? 69
50 How can we say that the body of Christ includes all Christian churches when we know that Christ established only one church? 70
51 It is one thing to speak of non-Catholic churches as means of salvation, because they all believe in Jesus Christ as Redeemer and Savior : but how is it possible to include non-Christian religions as well in the work of salvation? 71
52 The concept of vocation, ministry, and community are rooted in the sacrament of Baptism, which calls us to participate in the "common priesthood" of the faithful : but what does it mean to be called to "ordained priesthood," and how does one discern that call? 72
53 The reality for most Catholics is that the spirit of a parish is centered in the clergy : how does the church move from a clergy-controlled institution to one in which the people claim and assume responsibility for their own faith? 74
54 What virtue do you feel is most important for a professional lay minister in today's church? 75
55 On what basis is restriction of the priesthood to males justified and at what point in church history was this dictated? 76
56 What would you say to women who feel that they must leave the church to be ordained? 78
57 I understand that obligatory celibacy for priests appeared several centuries after the founding of the church : where does celibacy fit into the definition of Catholic identity and why is it important? 79
58 In view of the priest-shortage, would you address the daily-ness, the weekly-ness, or the monthly-ness of Eucharist? : what I'm asking is : how frequently does the Eucharist need to be celebrated to nurture and deepen the Christian life, and how does faith-development and witnessing to faith happen apart from the Eucharist? 80
59 A recent issue of our archdiocesan newspaper reported that present-day seminarians are more conservative and less academic than previous generations : in your travels and observations, do you find this to be true? 82
60 When a group of dedicated, prayerful women gather, share the word, remember Jesus, break bread, and commit themselves to proclaim and witness to his salvific action, why is that not a true Eucharist? 83
61 Will you please say something about the difference between an ordained Protestant minister and a priest who has received the sacrament of Holy Orders? 84
62 What should the place of the Tridentine Mass Rite be in our modern church? : is it a relic? 85
63 Is any one sacrament more important in the life of the church than others? 87
64 Why do we have to move away from communal penance services, since we are a communal church? 88
65 What does papal infallibility mean, and how does it relate to indefectibility? 89
66 How binding or obligatory is the ordinary magisterium of the church? 90
67 What do you mean by ordinary universal magisterium? 91
68 How does the "sensus fidelium" relate to the magisterium of the church? 92
69 Doesn't this notion of "sensus fidelium" also have something to do with the concept of reception of doctrine? 93
70 We don't hear much any more in our churches about the ecumenical movement, and ecumenical celebrations are few : what is the present state of the ecumenical movement? 95
71 My son married a Protestant in the Protestant church and the ceremony was performed by a minister : is my son still allowed to receive the sacraments in the Catholic church? 96
72 Could you comment on the goal of the recent effort to bring understanding between Catholics and Jews? 98
73 How do I, a woman in ministry in the Catholic church, respond to those men - priests - who simply pay lip-service and yet won't change the sexist language in the Scriptures, for example, or won't do anything to advance the equality of women in the church? 99
74 Do you believe if women were "up and down the hierarchical ladder," the church's teaching on abortion would be more nuanced? 101
75 Does Catholic inclusiveness have room for gay and lesbian Christians in your view? : specifically, what is your reaction to the Vatican's attitude toward civil rights legislation for gays and lesbians? 102
76 In your opinion, what can be done to bring the spirit of justice and Catholic social teaching generally into the life of the parish at all levels? 104
77 What do you see as a catalyst for the changes you foresee in the church, especially in the areas of social teaching and social justice? : I could use a small ray of hope 105
78 I am a lay businessman : on the issue of just wages within the church, isn't it the case that the real problem in the church is our lack of willingness to share our material wealth with those in greater need? : how can we teach responsibility to the average person in this area of sharing or tithing? 107
79 In many gatherings of Catholics I've been at, for lectures and the like the average age of most people seems to be over fifty : how do we reach the youth of our community and bring them into the full and active life of the Church? 108
80 Despite all of my rationalizations I'm having trouble communicating with my teenagers on why they should attend and participate in Mass : got any good ideas on how I can encourage them? 109
81 I am deeply troubled, not only by the missing youth mentioned by the previous questioner, but also by the minority of men and the presence of very few people of color : is this really the church? : you say it is not : which reality are we to believe? 111
82 Most Catholic gatherings, at least in the United States, are not only white and predominantly female in composition, but they also tend to be drawn from the ranks of the economically well-off : aren't we in danger of becoming an elitist church and a contradiction of Jesus' central concern for the poor? 113
83 Why is liberation theology perceived as a threat by some in the church establishment? 115
84 Are Catholic schools the best vehicle for formal education in our faith? 116
85 How can we help parents realize that they are the first and foremost educators of their children? 118
86 As a medical scientist I am deeply concerned about the education of our church's hierarchy concerning the moral issues resulting from the rapid advances in the biological sciences : how do you envision the most effective way for our church leaders and teachers to incorporate these advances into their teaching for the next century? 119
87 Do you believe that the Holy Spirit is working in our church today through the rising charismatic church? : if so, how will this change the church? 120
88 How can we deal with factions in the church today? 122
89 How can we bring the extremes of The Wanderer and the National Catholic Reporter crowds together, or is there no hope of this? 123
90 Do you think that in the future the church will welcome back into the community divorced Catholics who have remarried outside the church? 124
91 How far into the 21st century do you see/predict the rule of celibacy becoming a matter of choice for priests and religious? 125
92 Will future priests still be "professional clergy," set apart and trained? : or do you think that we'll ever "raise and acclaim" regular parishioners, who will then be ordained to officiate at the Eucharist? 126
93 How do we realistically say we will remain a eucharistic community with (1) the strong possibility that the ordained priesthood will remain solely male for many years to come, (2) the lack of participation in the Eucharist by parents of children/teens, (3) poorly led Eucharists by many of the present clergy, and (4) more conservative leadership from the bishops? 128
94 What can we who work in the parish do to facilitate the change or shift of the church into the 21st century? : what obstacles do you see? : what present reality contributes to this shift? : what are you hopeful about? 130
95 What form do you see the church assuming in the next century, from the worship community level to the papacy? 132
96 Do you perceive the future church you describe as coming about with those who are in power in our hierarchical structure or in spite of them? : I see our own archbishop struggling to find inroads for the possibility of dialogue, but there seem to be too few signs of receptivity 134
97 As a young Catholic woman, what can I do to help the church move toward the future? : please give some practical everyday examples : I am hungry for change 135
98 How do you envision the gifts and traditions of others - witness, styles, music, meditation, preaching - being incorporated or adapted by the church of the future? : there seem to be charisms at work outside the church, even outside Christianity, that are signs of God's work among the human family 137
99 Will the future changes in our church depend on who is selected as the next pope? 138
100 Do you foresee the possibility of the U.S. Catholic church breaking away from Rome? 139
101 I hear you speaking hopefully about the future of the Catholic church : do you have times of personal discouragement and, if so, how do you deal with them? 140
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