The Church's Teachings and Catholics
On Oct. 23, 2006, Fr. Tom Rosica filled the house at Theology on Tap! Participants pondered and discussed "When The Church Teaches, Where Do I Fit In?" with respect to three current issues: same-sex marriage, Islam, and AIDS.
While speaking about same sex marriage, Fr. Rosica reiterated Pope John Paul II's comments that Canadians are "heirs to an extraordinarily rich humanism" and that we need to preserve what is "deep, good, and valid" in our own heritage. In addition to same-sex marriage, Fr. Rosica mentioned the number of families without children and the high rate of marriage breakdown as problematic to our tradition of humanism. He challenged us to uphold the dignity of the sacrament of marriage and take action to alleviate the suffering that many married people experience. He also reminded us that: yes, we as Catholics are called to uphold our values and we are also called to love all our neighbours.
On the topic of Islam, Fr. Rosica asked us to consider the lessons to be learned from Pope Benedict's recent address to the University of Regensburg. The popular media's need to be concise meant that only the most controversial sound bite was broadcast. But the rich complexity of Pope Benedict makes him impossible to capture on a sound bite, especially when he refers to ideas that are not his own.
However, the Pope's commitment to dialogue with Islam is made clear by his statement at World Youth Day: "By walking together on the path of reconciliation and renouncing any form of violence as a means of resolving differences, the two religions will be able to offer hope, radiating in the world the wisdom and mercy of the one God who created an governs the human family." Fr. Rosica also asked us to consider the idea of reciprocity in communication: If the West is expected to respect Islam, then Catholic priests should have the right to teach freely in Arabian counties. This freedom currently does not exist.
The Church's teaching on AIDS comes through most clearly in the action taken to help people afflicted with the disease. One in four AIDS patients is treated in a Roman Catholic Centre. The Church encourages responsible relationships through a language filled with courage and compassion. It does not teach by embarking on a crusade.