RENEW: A CRITICAL
The following is a partial reprint from The Renew Process:
Strengths and Areas for Improvement issued by the "Origins, NC Documentary
Service," January 8, 1987. This publication was sponsored by the National
Conference of Catholic Bishops, but not necessarily endorsed by that
Because of the accomplishments and promise of the Renew
process, however, the committee also identified several concerns "in an effort
to improve it." Included were: a tendency toward a generic Christianity; a
need for greater balance and completeness; a need for more emphasis on the
cognitive dimensions of faith; and a need for a broader definition of the
eucharist and an emphasis on sacrifice and worship.
Some Specific Concerns About the Process
1. The tendency toward a generic Christianity.
Perhaps the main cause of concern for the critics of Renew and one of
the weaknesses we recognize in the process is the fact that basic Christian
themes are presented without sufficiently relating them to their specific form
as experienced in Roman Catholic tradition and practice. The literature does
not identify, to the extent that we think it should, what is distinctly
Catholic in our faith process. [Read: Protestentization] As an example,
expectation 6 under "what will Renew do for the parish," the formation in
prayer, Scripture, community building, justice, etc., does not indicate the
teaching of the Church that gives meaning to the living tradition which forms
the basis for authentic Catholic renewal.
Even though the authors of Renew claim that it "has never
attempted to be a catechetical program," nonetheless there is an admission
that there are "formation and programmatic aspects of the Renew process" which
provide, directly or indirectly. both content and doctrine for participants in
the process. We must be concerned, then, about what such a
pedagogical-formational device teaches by exclusion as well as by
2. The need for greater balance and completeness.
The authors of Renew admit certain biases in their approach to
personal and parochial renewal.
"There is a bias in Renew for immanence...the emphasis is on
the God who is among us...ours is a God who has embraced our humanity in the
fullest possible way...Jesus is understood immanently in his concrete humanity
and historicity...ministry arises out of the people and belongs to the
"In Renew the church is more a people than an institution...a
definite bias toward the community model of church...the single most revealing
element of any theology is its ecclesiology, its understanding of God, Jesus
and the faith of a people. One's ecclesiology also reveals a theology of
ministry and a sense of mission. That is why Renew clearly commits itself to a
model of church that is a community of disciples...a model that is inclusive
rather than exclusive or elitist, and one that nurtures itself for mission
rather than for self-service."
It is our opinion that the overemphasis of these theological
positions causes the Renew process to favor certain aspects of Catholic life
to the exclusion of other equally important aspects . This results in an
imbalance which can be doctrinally misleading. The total renewal of our people
requires, in the long run and for our unity as a church, an understanding and
appreciation of the full gamut of Catholic theology and doctrine. While Renew
does not claim to offer a course in catechetics or a theological overview,
nonetheless it does state that intends "to create a 'theology,' a way of
understanding God, Jesus , church, etc., for our time." Therefore, it does
have the responsibility to offer a balanced theological
Some of the "exclusions," in our opinion, that would enrich
the Renew theological component and give it a better balance are: a clearer
presentation of the distinctive nature of the Catholic Church, not merely as a
community of faith but as a structured, hierarchical, visible, sacramental
community bound together in a tradition that includes Scripture as a font of
faith but also the authoritative development and interpretation of the
doctrines of faith by the magisterium of the church; a more balanced
presentation of the models of church which broadens considerably the sole
emphasis on community; the insistence that God's revelation, and not just
personal experience, is the norm for deeper understanding and appreciation of
While we applaud the strategy of Renew to call people to
greater responsibility for the mission of the church, and their consequent
ministerial roles, we are concerned that a corresponding emphasis on the
sacrament of orders is missing. Unless the necessary and unique ministerial
priesthood is constantly balance with emerging lay ministries in the church, a
distorted vision about the future of ministry can develop, and a confused
3. The cognitive dimensions of faith need more emphasis.
We are grateful that Renew has developed a process which stresses the
contemporary need to touch the affective, emotional and personal faith
experiences within a supportive community of believers. At the same time, we
think there is need in the Renew process to emphasize more clearly the
cognitive, intellectual aspects of faith life. The large group experience can
be used to make this presentation. Clearer support should also be given to the
need to relate people not only to the parish, but also more effectively to the
diocese and the universal church.
We are concerned that the emphasis of Renew on personal and
shared "experience as the locus of revelation" can lead to fundamentalism and
the privatization of religious truth. Our people must always be made aware of
the basis for our faith in Jesus Christ.
We note that Renew is not just a "brief, intensive event such
as a weekend experience or retreat" -- rather it is a diocesan wide three-year
process of conversion and formation. Because of its duration and impact on the
local church, we have to be concerned about the effects it has on the
orthodoxy and orthopraxis of our people. The cognitive dimensions of faith
cannot be separated from any extended process of renewal or formation in the
church if we are to maintain our Catholic unity.
4. The eucharist needs broader definition and an emphasis
on sacrifice and worship.
We note the effective way the authors of
Renew relate the ordinary things of life to eucharist, and the centrality of
eucharist in Catholic prayer. However, we have concerns about the singular
emphasis in some of the material on the communal meal, and the paraliturgical
agape that can leas to confusion about the essential nature of he eucharistic
Perhaps the main cause of concern for the critics of Renew
and one of the weaknesses we recognize in the process is the fact that basic
Christian tenants are presented...
We anticipate that the diocesan response to criticism made in
"Origins" is that "the program is now updated and these problems no longer
exists. The materials and methods of presentation now reflect ..." or words to
The VIEW suggests that Renew participants include this
article with other program materials to assist in making their own informed
evaluation. Being aware of these concerns will allow you to look for them and
evaluate the program's orthodoxy.
Please write us to obtain a complete copy of the original
"Origins" article, on which this review is based.
IS THIS WHAT YOU'RE PAYING $22,300 A YEAR
I tell my nieces and nephews
to go to a secular
where they will have to fight
for their faith and not to a
Catholic college where it
will be taken away from them.
Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen
Dear Dad and Mom:
Sorry I haven't written for so long, but I spent Easter
vacation at Palm Springs, and I've been trying to "recover" ever since. Only
kidding. I did spend a lot of money there, though. Could you send me some?
Not much happening back on ye olde campus of Santa Clara U.
Classes are the same boring thing--and basketball is over. I guess the high
point was a lecture by Prof. Mary Jo Weaver on April 15. She's a professor of
religious studies at Indiana University--yep, right where you hale from, Dad,
-- and the author of two books. I had to go to her lecture called "What's
Wrong with Being Right?" It's a requirement of the "Women in Biblical
Traditions" class. But there were a lot of my friends there, and the lecture
Weaver really knows how to bash these fanatics, that's for
sure. She compared right-wing Catholics to the Ayatollah Khumeini, Bob Jones
University, Mother Angelica, and Pope John Paul II. Guess that about sums it
up! She said these fundamentalists are "religious believers with the volume
turned up," blaring out a selective truth that excludes gays and feminists and
requires obedience to the pope.
Of course, we all cheered like mad. Nobody likes the
Prof. Weaver sounds like she grew up just like you did, Dad.
She was born in 1942 in a "back-water, non-ecumenical" mid-western town. She
attended parochial school and learned the Baltimore Catechism from nuns, who
said the Catholic Church is the one, true Church. We all got a great laugh out
of that. She doesn't feel the same as you do about her teachers, though. She
thinks they were full of beans, mostly. Their full habits shackled their
minds, she said. I thought that was pretty funny!
Throughout high school and college, she stayed strong in the
faith, but after graduation, she was influenced by friends at work. She "began
to adjust to a new world and looked at the world differently." Religion became
a "private matter." The social justice issues of Vatican II pushed her towards
dropping the old faith. "Vatican II was a pivotal moment," she said.
I've heard you say the same thing, Dad, but in a different
context. You're probably one of the guys she would call a right-winger, but
I'll be tolerant. You sign a great check! Hah. Hah. Just kidding.
After Vatican II, Weaver saw that conservatives looked for
authority in the pope and a "rigid past," one she was trying to reject. In her
studies, she discovered "the limitation of papal authority" in Humanae Vitae.
Pope Paul VI went against his own appointed committee's decision and the
"majority opinion." She and other liberals were compelled to dissent,
Weaver said "our experience in the world" is the basis for
religion. That sounds right-on to me. She said "liberals thrive in an
atmosphere of dissent," whereas conservatives have a "sense of security rooted
in fear" and live in a narrow, intellectual world.
I don't really understand all this stuff, Dad and Mom. I
always thought the Church had it pretty much together, but apparently this
controversy thing is growing. My teachers are real angry about the way things
are, and they want to change it. Weaver summed up with five points:
First, she says conservative groups like the Blue Army really
dread the future. They think priests are leading people astray. They don't
like stupid things like women not wearing hats at Mass, taking communion in
the hand, the laxity of sexual morality, sex-ed and stuff. Boy, if you could
have seen the stuff happening in Palm Springs, you would see how out-of-it
those old fogies really are.
Second, she said conservative nuns, represented by the
Institute for Religious Life, are a mere 10 per cent of all religious. They
still pray the divine office, aspire to the obedience and virginity of Mary
and wear habits. Ninety percent of the other nuns, represented by the
Leadership Conference of Women Religious, are where the action is.
Third, the four colleges that were established to "protest
Vatican II are intellectually isolated and have no voice in Catholic
education." I guess that includes St. Thomas Aquinas and Christendom, Mom.
Those were the two you had picked out, remember?
Fourth, home-schooling and large families should get with the
program. The professor pointed out that large, home-schooling families often
have low incomes. She said she attended a home-schooling conference in
Bardstown, Ky., and saw "the older siblings spending a lot of time taking care
of the younger ones." Reminded me of my own two sisters, you know? How many
does Jenny have now? Six. Wow. I gotta send my sex-ed book home to Jim.
Anyway, Weaver said she questions the ability of home-schooling parents to
educate their own children: "I don't see them as having the expertise."
Fifth, she said "who is right or wrong is not a liberal
goal." I thought that was nice. But we all got a laugh out of the conservative
goal: getting to Heaven. Wow! They must be Neanderthals. Literally! Weaver
said we should include gays and agnostics in ecumenical
She summed it up by saying that things have changed. "Anyone
under 25 doesn't understand the Real Presence." I guess that sums up where I
stand, too. I mean, I used to believe it. But after coming to SCU, how could
anyone believe in that old God?
Hope none of this worries you guys. I'm cool.
Don't forget to send money, Dad.
* Tuition at Santa Clara University in 1995-96 is
$15,450. Room and board is about $6,780.
VIVA BISHOP BRUSKEWITZ!
Bruskewitz of Lincoln, Nebraska has thrown a bombshell into the nation's
far left, dissident Catholic community and the after-shocks are still being
felt in every sector in America.
In late March, Bishop Bruskewitz said he will excommunicate
members of his flock who belong to any of twelve groups whose aims are
incompatible with the true Catholic faith. His targets include: Planned
Parenthood; Catholics for a Free Choice; Call to Action; The Hemlock Society;
and Masonic organizations.
According to Catholic scholars, Bishop Bruskewitz is the only
prelate in modern time to threaten such a blanket excommunication. Under this
directive, Catholics may attend Mass but are forbidden to receive Holy
Communion and other sacraments.
Planned Parenthood is one of the world's leading abortion
providers, while Call To Action, a liberal Chicago-based organization,
promotes "dialogue" on such issues as women in the priesthood and clerical
celibacy. The Hemlock Society is a right-to-die organization.
The VIEW salutes Bishop Bruskewitz. He is a true
leader of the Church who is willing to stand up for his beliefs and act on
them. Would that more bishops had his courage!
BRIGHT & DIM VIEWS
Cardinal Joseph Bernardin stood up to the abortion President
in condemning infanticide before Clinton vetoed the so-called partial abortion
ban passed by both the House and Senate.
The late George Burns left $100,000 to Star of the Sea School
in San Francisco in memory of his wife Gracie Allen who graduated from there
A recent poll indicates that support for abortion rights
among California voters has dropped slightly during the past year.
The Notre Dame Sisters, at 14800 Bohlman Road, Saratoga,
recently hosted the 'Catholic' Women's Network for a day retreat.
The nation's largest video rental chain, Blockbuster,
recently made the Disney-Miramax movie 'Priest' available for rental. This
blasphemous and anti-Catholic film was condemned by the leaders of Christian
and non-Christian faiths.
A recent film, 'Gospa', that favorable portrays the Catholic
Church and her priests, received almost no publicity and a very limited run in
San Jose (Dioecesis Sancti Josephi in California)
Established January 27,
Most Reverend Pierre DuMaine, D.D., Ph.D.
First Bishop of San Jose;
ordained June 5, 1957; appointed Auxiliary Bishop of San Francisco and Titular
Bishop of Sarda April 28, 1978; Episcopal Ordination June 29, 1978; appointed
Bishop of San Jose January 27, 1981. Office: Diocese of San Jose, 841 Lenzen
Avenue, San Jose, CA 95126-2700
Most Reverend Fabian Bruskewitz
Diocese of Lincoln
PO Box 80328
Lincoln, NE 68501
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