Catholic Common Ground conversation gets under way
By Dona S. Dreeland
Published: Thursday, March 14, 2013, 11:57 a.m.
Local residents are invited to come together Tuesday to attend La Roche College's second Catholic Common Ground conversation.
And the purpose of the event is as it was when the initiative was designed in October 1996 by Cardinal Joseph Bernardin, the late archbishop of Chicago: to engage in discussion of important topics.
La Roche holds these conversations in honor of the Rev. Eugene Lauer, the college's former academic vice president, campus minister and chairman of the humanities division.
La Roche professor emeritus Edward Brett will moderate a discussion on “The Role of Laity in the Church.”
The free event will take place at Zappala College Center on La Roche campus at 9000 Babcock Boulevard, McCandless.
“This brings people together to dialogue and learn about each other,” said Brett, who retired in May after 28 years of teaching in the history and political science department.
It was his role as a historian that brought him into this issue-oriented leadership role. Brett, 68, of Ross Township, has published four books and 20 articles on various aspects of the Catholic Church.
Sister Michele Bisbey, professor of religious studies, and assistant professor Edward Bobinchock, chairman of the religious studies and philosophy department, also helped create this event out of discussions inside that department last summer, Sister Michele said. From their talks, the topic arose.
The role of the laity in the church has evolved, Brett explained, from the early days of Christianity, when there was “equality among the people, ‘neither slave nor free.' But as the religion spread, there were different ideas about things, and they needed leaders to keep things cohesive.”
By the Middle Ages, a hierarchy was in place, where leaders made decisions, and the membership followed, Brett said.
In the centuries that came next, the hierarchy strengthened. Brett cited Pope Pius X's encyclical, “Vehementer Nos,” in 1906, which made the role of the laity perfectly clear: “Listen submissively.”
The Second Vatican Council and Pope John XXIII in 1962 turned that directive on its head, Brett said. The definition of the church wasn't just about the leadership, such as the pope, cardinals and bishops, who made the rules, but all the people of God.
“The laity became an active part of the church by engaging in dialogue with each other,” Brett said. Decisions started to be made with a “sense of the people” espoused by the late Cardinal John Henry Newman, when the leadership asked “What do the people think?” in order to find solutions to questions.
“Now, with the conclave and new pope, this is a pertinent topic again,” Brett said.
He said he hopes this event opens channels for discussion. It will be an opportunity to hear different sides of an issue and find something to agree on that makes for additional conversation, Brett said.
In the months ahead, Sister Michele, of McCandless, said, she hopes to discuss whatever topics surface from those who participate.
“I believe that we are the pilgrim people of God,” Sister Michele said. “We have the privilege and responsibility of articulating the truth that God speaks in us, living lives of integrity faithful to the Gospel and making God's providence visible in the world by our works of justice and presence.”
Catholic Common Ground is not a place for debate or arguing, said Brett, “but a place where people feel safe enough to give their opinions. None of us have all the answers, and the questions are complex. By listening to the other side, we come to better understand our own view.”
This is especially important today in the political arena, he said, where voices “have their own agenda, and we end up screaming at each other.”
Through conversation that seeks a common ground, “people get a more mature view of the issue,” Brett said.
“We come together in a respectful manner and listen.”
Dona S. Dreeland is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-772-6353 or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Cuts in food stamps leave more people turning to pantries
- North Hills board undergoes overhaul
- North Park project expected to generate short-term inconveniences, long-term benefits
- La Roche archivist aims to shed light on Pittsburgh during World War I