Author: Jana Bennett

Welcome to Corrymeela, Ireland: Reflections on American Catholicism and Reconciliation

For the past few weeks, I’ve been visiting Ireland – south and north – with some students from the University of Dayton. I’ve been learning a lot about Irish history and culture. One of the amazing places we visited is Corrymeela, an ecumenical space for peace and reconciliation.  While there, the students and faculty learned about specific ways Corrymeela brought together people across deep and violent divisions in the Troubles of the late 20th century. We learned about ways Corrymeela continues to advocate for peace in Ireland, as well as among American gang members, in other places in the...

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Fifth Sunday of Easter: On the Way Home

ACTS 6:1-7 PS 33:1-2, 4-5, 18-19 1 PT 2:4-9 JN 14:1-12 “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.” These words that Jesus speaks in the Gospel this week are hard words that people wrestle with – including most of my students. Is Jesus the only way? What about people who don’t believe in Jesus? What about all those great people I know who aren’t Christian at all? For some, the solution to the problem is something like Karl Rahner’s “Anonymous Christian”: a controversial term for both Christians and non-Christians alike. Rahner suggested that perhaps a good Buddhist...

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Theology Majors and Catholic Universities

Catholic universities have sure raised a ruckus in recent years about the state of their theology courses and majors. The University of Notre Dame had its flap about curriculum review and the place of theology courses a couple years ago. While that university ended up keeping its theology requirements, other schools face similar questions or concerns. Providence College has had such conversations; so has Georgetown University. Most recently, St. Mary’s University is facing the loss of all three of its theology majors. This is a problem – but not necessarily for the reasons people might expect. Part of the debate has been conducted in the same kinds of ideological camps we’ve come to know and be annoyed by: the Cardinal Newman Society and more conservative Catholic campuses urge protection of theology courses. Not even “religious studies” courses will do, they say – since that smacks of secular liberalism. On the more progressive side (at least in terms of university administrations) might be the shrug of shoulders, the realistic admission that many students these days are “nones” and don’t want religion on their campuses – Catholic or no. Religion – so it seems – is a private affair, not really real like biology or engineering, dealing with the squidgier stuff of life. How could religion have a place on a campus – even a Catholic campus? The history of theology...

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Truth in Resurrection

Sometimes I think Catholic moral theology doesn’t deal enough – or seriously enough – in doubts. Maybe that’s for systematic theologians – but our arguments in this field are supposed to be more certain. This isn’t just about what is lawful, which is part of our field’s history and discourse. It is also that we promote definite paths of action and specific ways of seeking or imagining justice. This reflection on the Easter readings – done in combination with our ecumenical friends at the Ekklesia Project – speaks both to doubt and to living as Christian witnesses in spite...

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The Wrong Sort of Charity?

Giving to the poor is a Christian standard – something most Christians wouldn’t dispute, though they might argue about who counts as “the real poor” and what the best way to give to the poor is. One of our Western standbys has been to send boxes of toys and food to places around the world – especially at Christmas time. The boxes and stocking stuffers we gave out might just now be making their way to communities. But those boxes don’t have the effect we might hope for. The food, toys and clothes end up being useless, or preventing...

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