Cardinal George calls for 'renewed Catholic imagination' in the U.S.


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Vatican City, Feb 4, 2010 / 05:52 pm (CNA).- The book "The Difference God Makes: a Catholic Vision of Faith, Communion and Culture" by Cardinal Francis George of Chicago was analyzed in the most recent edition of the Vatican's newspaper. The cardinal's collection of writings was dubbed a "clear, concrete and stimulating" description of the current situation of the Church within the American culture.

L'Osservatore Romano (LOR) commends the cardinal's ability to "articulate the Catholic identity, defining the possibilities and dangers of society and contemporary American culture" as well as his "renewed appeal to evangelization, to joyful sharing of the Good News of Jesus Christ."

Between the three main sections of the book, which pertain to the mission, life and aim of the Church, Cardinal George offers Communion as the "fundamental reality" that unites the three areas in a "complete theological vision."

The cardinal, says the paper, "celebrates the source of Communion in the same life of the One and Triune God and his realization in the Church that, as the Body of Christ, is called to be sacrament of communion, and, thus, salvation for the world."

In addition to the parts of the book that touch on globalization and inter-religious relations, it offers two particularly provocative treatises on inter-ecclesial relations, LOR says. The first is "Spreading the Gospel in the American Terrain: the Contribution of Theology," in which he insists on the importance of the inculturation of the Gospel in order "to be faithful to our own incarnational roots."

The prelate also outlines the historical path to the present-day relegation of religion in American culture to the private life of the individual.

In the second treatise highlighted by the Vatican paper, "The Crisis of Liberal Catholicism," Cardinal George provides a definition of theologically, not politically, "liberal" Catholicism. He talks about the "creative" attempt of "liberal Catholics" to live in the contemporary culture, albeit "running the risk of progressively permitting the values of the culture to take priority over those of the Gospel" and thereby becoming "insipid."

LOR also highlights three theological principles "crucial" to Catholics' identity and which Cardinal George says are "in danger." He suggests that "objective divine revelation is limited to the confines of experience and subjective religious propension." He also notes that "Christology passes from being the confession of the Incarnate Son of God to admiration for the all too human proclaimer of the kingdom, (that is) from Jesus, Savior of humanity, to Jesus, Galilean prophet." Finally, the cardinal mentions that "the sacramental-ecclesial mediation cedes to the consumerist celebration of the individual preference and to the entirety of all who think in the same way."

The analysis concludes that Cardinal George seeks through his book to offer "indications for a renewed Catholic imagination, that is rich and, at the same time, demanding."

"The vision and the commitment of Cardinal George are profoundly relational, rooted... in the Eucharist and the ecclesial presence of He who is truly God and truly human: the kingdom of God in person."