Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Not Everything Out of Rome

Not everything out of the Vatican represents its official stance. That may strike one as odd, even contradictory. However, as Mr. John L. Allen Jr. makes clear in a recent All Things Catholic post,

the pontifical academies, which are scholarly bodies devoted to topics such as the sciences, Mariology, the fine arts and archeology. ...their debates, while fascinating, don’t necessarily have any direct correlation with Vatican policy. After all, the Pontifical Academy of Sciences has been hammering away in favor of GMOs [genetically modified organisms] for years, and that’s still not the official line.This background is by way of saying that one should not make too much of a recent contretemps at the Pontifical Academy for Life, because it’s not really as if the fate of the Vatican hangs in the balance.

Mr. Allen offers three recurrent tensions in Catholic life, with consequences far broader than the immediate future of one pontifical body:

  • European vs. American sensibilities vis-à-vis the “life issues”
  • Prophets vs. team players
  • Dialogue vs. debate in engaging those who don’t share church teaching.
He elaborates on each, in his characteristically illuminating fashion.

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