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Friday, June 22, 2012


[Refer WAACSA [KZN]  Event Notice)

In his talk at the Dominican Priory in Pietermaritzburg, Augustine Shutte, first gave those present a brief outline of the movement: We are All Church SA (WAACSA). He is a member of the Cape chapter.

 As a member myself and a concerned Catholic for the purpose of revitalizing the vision and spirit of Vatican II, I set down my view of Shutte’s advice for the initial way forward.

The soundest advice to us all was how leadership of WAACSA are advocating the fledgling movement’s focus to be on coming together, once a week, for the purpose of bonding spiritually, learning about the history of our religion in order to understand the mind-changing phenomenon that this surprising ecumenical council turned out to be. Never in the history of the Church has there been a Council that made such a tremendous impact in all areas of our faith. In other words, we would be small cells within the larger Church, trying to live out a better way of being church together. There is no intention to tackle what we perceive as the shortcomings in the teaching authority of the Roman Catholic Church.

The talk on Christian Faith in the Postmodern World, began with a brief overview of the development of religion from primitive times, to the Axial age, and so on to what is now known as the era of modernism or the Age of Enlightenment

Augustine says the postmodern world is characterized by four developments especially favourable to the expression of Christian faith and to living it out in the spirit of the new directions initiated by Vatican II. He based the rest of his talk on four conceptions that were starting to take root in the consciousness of the world. These are: the evolutionary view of the world including human history and culture (not just on Darwin’s field of evolution); the conception of God as that of god’s immanence in world-process, especially in human life; the insight that authentic human self-determination can exist only in relationship to the other; and finally, the value of science and technology for making the global village a hospitable home for the whole human family.

What I personally appreciated was:

  • The clear description of the purpose and vision of Vatican II Council and especially the points taken from the subsequent document known as the Constitution of the Catholic Church: Lumen Gentium.
  • That Human Freedom to choose is the source of human dignity and the very standard of judging the mission of the Church in the World; Also the point about the laity being the principle agents of the Church’s mission and co-creationists with God, because the fact of evolution causes us always to bring something new into existence.
  • The new idea, to me, of Evolution beginning in the mind of GWF Hegel, the German Philosopher, in  the early part of the 19th century which embraced not just human development but human consciousness and culture etc. broadens my conception of evolution greatly. Evolution has shown that it is something bringing something new into existence.
  • That Faith is a personal relationship with God, not just belief in God and the development of our unique expression in living out our Faith is our Religion.
Finally, he recommends a highly accessible book for the lay person by Brian Swimme: The Universe Story.

Following is a copy of his letter published recently (06.06) in The Southern Cross.

WAC clarification

IN recent months there has started up in South Africa an organisation that aims to recall the Church to the Second Vatican Council’s programme for renewing the Church so as to make it better able to serve humanity in our contemporary world.

It is called We Are All Church (South Africa) and is affiliated to the international body IMWAC
(International Movement We Are Church). Misunderstandings concerning the nature of the Roman Catholic Church and its teaching and practice abound, both within the Church and outside it, and part of our work is to dispel these.

There is one mistaken perception of this kind that is so fundamental that I would be grateful if
you would publish this letter in order to correct it.

In its most authoritative document Lumen Gentium, the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, the Second Vatican Council solemnly proclaimed that the only absolutely necessary condition for salvation (union with God in heaven) was trying to live a good life according to your own conscience.

It begins its list of those who can be saved with members of the Roman Catholic Church. But
it also declares: “He is not saved however who, though he is part of the body of the Church, does
not persevere in charity.”

It then goes on to include members of other Christian bodies of all sorts together with, in the famous paragraph 16, Jews, Muslims and members of other religions and, finally, even atheists. In the typical florid language of Vatican document s it proclaims: “Nor does divine providence deny the help necessary for salvation to those who, without blame on their part, have not yet arrived at an explicit knowledge of God, but who strive to live a good life thanks to his grace.”

It would be good for Catholics to always keep this in mind. It would make them less anxious about preserving the traditional doctrines and practices of their own Church and more open to other religions and to those with no religion at all, able to feel solidarity with everyone in our common need for God.

It would also help them to be properly critical of Christian bodies that teach that all non-Christians
(and some Christians too) cannot be saved.

Augustine Shutte, Cape Town

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