Father Kevin Laughery

Why do we become anxious in the presence of someone whose ideas, beliefs, and opinions are different from ours?

Theology in song! We may not think immediately of Christmas carols in these terms, but if these melodies and their words have any worth at all, we find that worth in the expression of the profound truth of the enfleshing of the Son of God and its import for human salvation.

In recent days, two prominent Christian communions have announced changes in leadership. Looking specifically at these two groups will help us in our appreciation of concrete historical problems which we must address on the way to full Christian unity.

When we consider the lack of belief in God, we apply a couple of familiar categories: agnosticism and atheism. An atheist denies the existence of a Supreme Being. An agnostic maintains that it is impossible to know whether such a Being exists.

I find myself respecting atheism but puzzled by agnosticism. If God is God, I reason, surely he is going to let us know that he's here.

Nothing excuses the killing of the U.S. ambassador to Libya and three other members of the diplomatic staff.

But even as we lament the wretchedly low level at which matters of religion are treated in international relations, we find encouragement as we affirm that religious believers themselves carry, within the body of ideals which their belief-systems possess, the principles for the healing of the wounds which are so often inflicted in attempts at meaningful communication.

In popular culture, it is imagined that, during a slave rebellion of the first century B.C., slaves who were urged to turn over their leader Spartacus declared, one after another, "I am Spartacus!"

In most of the small towns in which I have served as pastor, we know the expectation. The pastors of the churches, Protestant and Catholic, come together once a month, usually over breakfast.

Religious freedom is very much on our minds as we American Catholics ponder the history through which this human right has come to be recognized. We must, of course, reach back beyond American history and remember the practice and the principles of the Catholic Church in addressing religious truth and the disposition of human beings before that truth.

This publication and many others will, in the months to come, be carrying a number of discussions about the meaning of the Second Vatican Council, which Blessed John XXIII opened on Oct. 11, 1962. These discussions may often seem to be shrouded in very technical theological language. Members of the church need clear explanations of what Vatican II did and why it matters.

Last month I took part in the National Workshop on Christian Unity, held this year in Oklahoma City. At this annual workshop, the national organizations of United Methodist, ELCA Lutheran, Episcopal, and Catholic ecumenical officers have their own activities along with the events intended for all participants.

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