Official: 2 Currents Stirring Up Tensions in Church

Are You Pro-Integration or Pro-Controversy?

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VATICAN CITY, JUNE 4, 2009 (Zenit.org).- The secretary of the Vatican Congregation for Catholic Education contends there are two currents in the Western Church -- one seeking "integration" and one causing "controversy."



Archbishop Jean-Louis Bruguès affirmed this in the annual meeting of pontifical seminary rectors, L'Osservatore Romano reported Wednesday. His address was titled "Formation for the Priesthood: Between Secularism and the Ecclesial Model."

"There exists now in the European Church, and maybe also in the American Church, a line of division, maybe of fracture, which undoubtedly varies from one country to another, and proposes what I will call a 'current of integration' and a 'current of controversy," the archbishop said.

He explained that the first "observes that there are Christian values in secularization -- such as equality, liberty, solidarity and responsibility -- and [considers] that it should be possible to collaborate with this current and find areas of cooperation."

"Whereas the second current," Archbishop Bruguès continued, "invites keeping distance. It considers that the differences or conflicts, above all in the realm of ethics, will be ever more marked," and "proposes an alternative model to the dominant model."

The French prelate suggested that the first current "was predominant in the post-conciliar [era] and has provided the ideological mold for the interpretations that were promoted at the end of the 60s and the following decade."

"Things turned around beginning with the 80s, particularly -- though not exclusively -- under the influence of John Paul II," he added.

The 65-year-old archbishop commented that Catholics of the first current tend to be older, but still hold key posts in the Church, while the alternative model has been considerably strengthened but "is still not dominant."

"This explains the current tensions in many Churches on our continent," he contended.

Archbishop Bruguès proposed that these differences take shape in various contexts, such that universities and Catholic schools, and seminaries and centers for religious, for example, "are distributed today according to this dividing line."

"Some play the trick of adaptation and cooperation with a secularized society at the cost of finding themselves obliged to distance themselves with a critical sense from this or that aspect of doctrine or Catholic morals," he continued. "Others, of a more recent inspiration, highlight the confession of their faith and the active participation in evangelization."

The archbishop proposed that the majority of the Western Church has endured "a strong auto-secularization."

And to respond to this negative division, the Vatican official encouraged an authentic interpretation of the Second Vatican Council, which perhaps will mean, he said, moving "from one ecclesial model to the other."

Archbishop Bruguès urged formation for priests that offers a "synthetic, organic theological formation that indicates the essential."

He affirmed that a "generalized lack of culture" caused by secularization makes a year or more of initial formation focused on culture and catechetics something that is "indispensable."