Challange the Church
July 26, 2002 4:30 AM   Subscribe

Challange the Church is a Catholic youth group working to bring a very different set of messages to world youth day. Even though pilgrims have been encouraged by event organizers to "ask tough questions", the church establishment seems to have very little patience for the provocative measures of Milton Chan (Catholic), which include passing out condoms to worshipers. Is this an indicator that the Catholic faith is changing to reflect modern realities, or is the Church too rigid and doomed to irrelevancy? (via existential dishwasher)
posted by astirling (17 comments total)
This is precisely why I don't believe in religion. The fact that religion can change to reflect modern realities makes religion fluid. Morals should be absolute, not relative. It's a bunch of hypocrisy is what it is.
posted by banished at 5:40 AM on July 26, 2002


the Catholic church isn't going to change because of a bunch of kids. banished, if that's why you don't believe in religion, you're quite confused. Absolute morals is precisely why the church gets a bad rap because of its refusal to change. The Catholic church is too rigid but I think it will always be relevant for some.
posted by srw12 at 6:34 AM on July 26, 2002

I don't get these groups at all. If they don't like the rules of the Church or the authority of its Magisterium which is at its core, they are perfectly free to go off to join (or even start) another.

In fact, pretty much everywhere in North America there's a nice Episcopal (Anglican in Candada) church which has most of the trappings of the Catholic Mass and tradition, with few of the things that annoy the promiscuous and authority-allergic.
posted by MattD at 7:04 AM on July 26, 2002

A church that doesn't change fast enough for its flock will die, sooner or later.

Most churches that I know of (actually probably all of them) do undergo some change of significant portions of their laws / rules / major beliefs over time. Why? Because they're human institutions, run by humans, and as they move through history they're buffeted by the same forces that affect any other human institution.

The Founders of the U.S. were wise to this notion, which is why they put processes in place so that the people (through their representatives) could alter the constitution (prudently, they hoped) in response to changing conditions.

A set of rules that never, ever changes has very limited applications.

It's a bit hypocritical of them to say "oh, but this is church dogma, we can't change it!" when things like the rule against priests marrying were decided by humans. (it used to be, way back when, that they could).

Churches change along with the fashion of the times, like everything. Hopefully the core beliefs (be good to each other, don't lie, don't kill, etc) stay strong through the process.
posted by beth at 7:19 AM on July 26, 2002

MattD -

Are you saying that asking for equal treatment for women makes me authority-allergic?

What if I was married and wanted to be able to use birth control because I didn't want to have children, or I didn't have the means to support them? Does that make me promiscuous?
posted by sanitycheck at 7:20 AM on July 26, 2002

As a raised/recovering Catholic - I keep wondering why people continue to call themselves Roman Catholic and then not follow or believe in the doctrine or catechism. There is a wide variety of belief systems out there and surely one will match your deepest spiritual beliefs. I wish I could find the article I read on the evolutions of world religions - from radical to mass movement to institution. Religions succeed based on their usefulness to large groups of people, and many times, when used as a controlling force for economic or political reasons. I guess it mirrors the whole meme/ideavirus theory.
posted by ao4047 at 7:21 AM on July 26, 2002

Hypocricy seems to be the cardinal sin (hehe) these days. Kill someone, sure, just as long as it doesn't violate your expressed belief system.
posted by ODiV at 7:35 AM on July 26, 2002

all i know is i can hardly wait for these glazed over singy-songy guitar-toting pope-mobile chasing teenagers to clear out of my city. from being at the airport as they were arriving in unsettling stepford-like droves to watching news reports of them fainting and crying over the old wizened power-muppet to a highly annoying street incident where they frightened my 5 yr old nephew... well, why can't they converge on vatican city instead and leave toronto the hell alone.
posted by t r a c y at 7:37 AM on July 26, 2002

As far as I can remember there are only two rules to keep. Love the lord God and love your neighbour (cue ironic/witty/moronic statements), anything else is man made doctrine.
posted by johnnyboy at 7:50 AM on July 26, 2002

Nancy: Have you ever been to Denmark?
Fielding Mellish: I've been, yes... to the Vatican.
Nancy: The Vatican? The Vatican is in Rome.
Fielding Mellish: Well, they were doing so well in Rome that they opened one in Denmark.
posted by geoff. at 7:50 AM on July 26, 2002

I don't get these groups at all. If they don't like the rules of the Church or the authority of its Magisterium which is at its core, they are perfectly free to go off to join (or even start) another.

"Love it or leave it," then? Perhaps these groups see enough good in the Church that they seek to correct its perceived flaws from the inside, rather than just starting anew.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 8:15 AM on July 26, 2002

The usual arguments for "not leaving," as offered by folks like Andrew Sullivan, are, in a nutshell, that a) their faith is God's gift and cannot be described by simple "choice" and b) the "Church" in RCC is composed not just of the priests/hierarchy but, more importantly, of the congregation. Argument a) raises a different question that I haven't seen answered, namely, what's their faith in--Christ or a particular Church? (Sullivan argues that the Church is a "human institution," which would seem to undermine the position that he can't worship elsewhere.) Argument b) opens its proponents up to the charge that they're really Protestants--Protestaholics?--because "the priesthood of all believers" is one of Protestantism's defining tenets. At least one person has called Sullivan on his claim that Vatican II gives more power to the lay folk--they're still supposed to be "cheerfully obedient," IIRC. Given the role of the sacraments in Roman Catholicism, I'm not sure you can get away with the argument that the congregation trumps the priests, as some are claiming.
posted by thomas j wise at 8:28 AM on July 26, 2002

Religion is SO 13th century...
posted by BoatMeme at 8:43 AM on July 26, 2002

Absolute morals is precisely why the church gets a bad rap because of its refusal to change.

I think there's some values in having absolute morals in faith; I think they provide the basis for exploring and questioning the purpose of life. Though I'm not a theology expert, I believe that every church offers to its congregation a set of tenants by which life should be lived, and these tenets form the cornerstone of faith.

Still, religious institutions are not the only source of morals, and over the last 1000 years our society has come to some very different conclusions about the role of the individual within it. When accepted social norms such as gender equality conflict with Catholic teachings, the administration and congregation have a duty to revisit these issues and seek a resolution congruent with the church's principles and the modern world.
posted by astirling at 9:41 AM on July 26, 2002

Morals should be absolute, not relative.

Isn't that how most religions are, anyway?

Churches change along with the fashion of the times, like everything.

Some have changed very little, like the Eastern Orthodox churches, which have maintained their liturgies over thousands of years.
posted by insomnyuk at 9:51 AM on July 26, 2002

Sanitycheck: the positions of the Church are quite clear:

(1) birth control is an invasion of the relationship God prescribes between husband and wife;

(2) God has provided roles of different character, but equal dignity and sanctity for men and women, in the world and in His Church;

(3) inquiry and debate about the revision of ordinances of the Magisterium is to be welcomed, but such ordinances are always to be respectfully obeyed in the meantime and the sole competence of the Magisterium to promulgate the doctine of the Church never to be questioned; and

(4) all people have the free will to disregard the foregoing, but only those who repent of the sin of doing so may truly be in communion with the Church.

Michael Jordan may have loved the NBA, but when he decided that he'd rather swing a bat at small round balls rather than throw big round balls through hoops, he had to go off and find a minor league baseball team to play with. The Episcopal Church welcomes you (and there is probably plenty of parking, too!)
posted by MattD at 10:14 AM on July 26, 2002

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