Nevertheless, what the Church will have to give up is the kind of 13 Richard Rorty, Contingency, Irony, Solidarity (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989), pp. 73-78. 14 Peter Jonkers , “A Purifying Force For Reason. Pope Benedict on the Role of Christianity in Advanced Modernity ,” Towards a New Catholic Church in Advanced Modernity. Transformations, Visions, Tensions (Münster: Lit Verlag, 2012), pp. 96-101. 15 Staf Hellemans , “Tracking the New Shape of the Catholic Church in the West,” Towards a New Catholic Church in Advanced Modernity , pp. 28-32.
The Contingent Meeting of a Catholic Minority Church with Seekers 11 ultramontane mass Catholicism which used to dominate in the 19 th and early 20 th centuries. 16 It will have to make room for a kenotic church, for a seeker-friendly church – without guarantees. 17 In the final section of this introduction we want to situate the suggestions and strategies for a conjunction of the Catholic minority church with the seekers against a broader background. Again, we want to emphasize that the success of these suggestions and strategies for conjunction is anything but guaranteed, since all of them are fundamentally marked by the contingencies that characterize the relations between church and society. The observations of the previous section confront all churches with a fundamental dilemma: should they confine their pastoral care to the existing in-crowd, in other words, the dwellers inside these churches, thereby putting up with the fact that this group is dwindling and aging, or should they reach out to the seekers (inside and outside the churches), thereby taking the risk that the latter will only take scattered pieces of their narratives, teachings, and practices to heart. As the title of this book already suggests, we are convinced that the churches should take the latter option. Theoretical Considerations Regarding the Conjunction Strategy What are the sociological, philosophical, and theological considerations supporting the main thesis of all contributors to this volume, namely, that the Catholic Church should opt for a conjunction with seekers? When the question of how to conjoin church and society is raised, two contrasting strategies are often put forward: a conservative, sectarian one, and a liberal, merging one. From a sociological perspective, both strategies fall short of expectations. The conservative strategy puts its odds on a highly demanding religion and tight community building. However, this strategy to confine the conjunction of the Church with society to the in-crowd of strongly believing church members risks the Church ending up only with ‘the happy few’. The liberal strategy wants to renew, along the lines of Gaudium et Spes , the alliance between the Church and the modern world. But this strategy fails to see the abstractness and lack of relevance of its proposals in the current societal setting, which predominantly consists of people who are quite indifferent to religious issues, and who
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