Saturday, June 03, 2006

The Word from Rome, June 2, 2006 Vol. 5, No. 38

One footnote to Rylko's reference to the movements as an example of what Benedict XVI means by a "creative minority." While Rylko's point is valid, there's a risk in circumscribing Benedict's now-famous invocation of Toynbee a bit too narrowly.

In making this reference, the pope had in mind not so much specific groups such as Communion and Liberation or the Focolare, which meet the classic sociological profile of a minority. He really meant a certain kind of Christian psychology, which doesn't rely on the broader culture or on any of the normal social subgroups (family, school, neighborhood) to foster Christian living. Instead, a "creative minority" Christian sees the faith as an intentional, deeply personal choice that has to be preserved and deepened every day in the midst of a culture either indifferent or hostile to religious belief. Christianity has to be chosen and has to be confirmed every day, on purpose, and support systems (what Benedict calls "islands of spiritual composure") likewise have to be intentionally chosen and constructed.

It is precisely from the passion that such a deeply personal commitment requires, Benedict believes, that this "minority" becomes "creative." Despite the small numbers willing to make such a choice, the pope believes, they will have a disproportionate impact on the culture because people will look on and think, "The future belongs to them."

In this sense, it would be a mistake to think that Benedict believes the movements are the only, or even the primary, way for Christians to function as a "creative minority." Quite the contrary; it's a disposition to which all Christians are called, with the movements as only one, and perhaps not the best, example.

Perhaps to some, 'creative minority' sounds better than a more 'militant' Church, I suppose... Pope John Paul II called for the New Evangezliation, will this become Benedict's catch-phrase? Certainly it is a time for Catholics to reconsider their lives and whether they are taking God 'seriously' enough.

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