Chicago Cardinal endorses Cardijn's see-judge-act

posted 31 Oct 2008, 17:14 by Stefan Gigacz   [ updated 31 Oct 2008, 17:26 ]

Speaking at the "Transformed by Hope" conference hosted by the "Center for Global Catholicism and Inter-Cultural Theology" at DePaul University, Chicago, Cardinal Francis George recalled the famous 1968 Medellin Conference of the Latin American bishops (CELAM), John L. Allen Jr; reports.

Reflecting on Medellín, Cardinal George said that it embodied an "inductive pastoral methodology," scrutinizing the "signs of the times" in light of Christian faith, which characterized both Vatican II and the 1967 encyclical of Pope Paul VI, Populorum progression. He also noted that Medellín endorsed the "see/judge/act" method of discernment developed by Cardinal Joseph Cardijn in the early 20th century - a movement, George noted, that was very popular in Chicago Catholicism in the 1950s.

While developments in liberation theology after Medellín which were dependent upon theories of class conflict" have been rejected by the church, George said, its "valid intuitions and fundamental truth" have also been recognized.

George argued that where Medellín started with the socio-economic situation and moved to finding God in the poor, the CELAM Aparecida conference of 2007 begins with the "kerygma," meaning the church's proclamation about who Christ is, and then moves to a concern for justice, "though a justice rooted in charity."

"Aparecida begins with the encounter with Jesus Christ when the kerygma is proclaimed, not only as mediated in the poor or another other social phenomenon," George said. That move is essential, he argued, for any attempt to phrase the church's message in an exclusively social or political key is "condemned to sterility."

As a result, George said, Aparecida opens up naturally to concern for permanent catechesis, sacramental life, and the understanding of the church as a "community of communities."

Medellín and subsequent developments in Latin American theology have had a "marked influence in the United States," George said, especially through the growing presence of Hispanics in the American church.

For example, George underscored the success of the base ecclesial communities across Latin America, where small groups come together for prayer, Bible study, and to employ the "see/judge/act" method in the analysis of their social situation. George said his first trip to Latin America came in 1972, in Brazil, and already it was clear the base communities would be a "far-reaching contribution of Latin America to us here in the States."

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