Roamin' Catholic

Friday, November 19, 2010

Evangelization or Catholic Jingoism…


Jingoism is defined in the Oxford English Dictionary as "extreme patriotism in the form of aggressive foreign policy". In practice, it refers to the advocation of the use of threats or actual force against others in order to safeguard what they perceive as their own country’s interests, and colloquially to excessive bias in judging one's own country as superior to others – an extreme type of nationalism. It is captured in phrases like “My country, right or wrong” and “Might makes right.”


Replace the political references with “Catholic”, and you virtually have the definition of the “new” Evangelization in the JPII worldview, or Catholic Jingoism. Fr. Pat Brennan recently wrote a reflection on a similar point….


This past spring, one of the books I used in teaching at the Institute of Pastoral Studies, was The Future Church: How Ten Trends Are Revolutionizing the Catholic Church by John Allen. John Allen mentions influences in the 21st century that are going to have an impact on the future of the Catholic Church… One trend that I was eager to read about was a chapter entitled Evangelical Catholicism.


Based on my background in evangelization work, I was enthused that Allen was seeing in the church a renewed interest in evangelization as called for by Paul VI in 1975. As I understand it, evangelization has to do with calling people to a personal and communal relationship with Jesus Christ, conversion, and a growing experience of life in the Reign of God.


I was disappointed when I read Allen's description of the church's renewed interest in evangelization. The new Catholic evangelization is one that is promoting the institution of the church, Catholic culture, Catholic norms, and Catholic expectations. It is more a restoration movement than it is refounding the church according to the mission and vision of Jesus. This new Catholic evangelization sets black and white standards of what it means to be Catholic. If you do not meet the standards, you are not needed or wanted. Some Catholic leaders have said perhaps we are in a purification process and that what we need are fewer Catholics who abide more rigorously to Catholic norms and expectations.

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