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.
It's an inconvenient variation. Easter falls on April 8 this year, but it may fall as early as March 22 or as late as April 25. Why can't this solemnity be more stable in our calendar?
Whenever we engage in reading the entire Bible, we find, in the Old Testament particularly, a theme which we believe is foreign to us. Over and over, we read about various sacrifices which people make as a way of communicating with God.
Abraham Lincoln is noted for having never officially joined a Christian church. First Presbyterian Church in Springfield is known as "Lincoln's Church," and the family had a pew there, but Lincoln himself steered clear of official affiliation with a church.
It has been reported that Jerzy Kluger died in Rome on Dec. 31 at the age of 90. We are aware of Jerzy Kluger because he was the childhood friend of one Karol Wojtyla, who is better known as Pope John Paul II, supreme pontiff from 1978 to 2005 and recently beatified.
In the Argentinian comic strip Mafalda which ran in the 1960s and 1970s, the title character, a little girl, is in one strip sitting with her friend Susanita, who is talking incessantly. Word balloons are crammed with tiny illegible words which represent her nattering. Disgusted, Mafalda at last walks away. Susanita shouts after her: "You're not open to monologue!"
As Pope Benedict has announced a Year of Faith to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council, we are reading a great deal of commentary which includes casual use of the word hermeneutic. Neither Herman Cain nor Herman Munster, hermeneutic is a Greek-derived word essentially meaning "a method of interpretation." The word arises as we face the question of how to interpret the significance of the council as we carry on our lives as church.
I thoroughly enjoy my interactions with non-Catholic Christians. No one's personal discovery of the reality of Jesus Christ is a trivial thing. We have much to learn when we open ourselves to any Christian's own account of how Jesus became real for him or her. We, in our own turn, have much to share.