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PARAPPULLY Jose, New Delhi says,
HOLDING UP TO THE LIGHT - 2
By Jose Parappully
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New Delhi, Apr. 5. Today`s (Saturday, 2nd week after Easter, 04/05/2008) first reading at Mass and Francis Moloney`s Good Night at the General Chapter [The Word of God will Stand Forever] provided me an opprotunity to reflect further on ``light and shadow,`` on the need to hold things to the light.

The Hellenist Christians brought to the open a situation that was dissatisfying, namely discrimination showed to Hellenistic widows in the distribution of goods (Acts 6, 1-7). Because they spoke out , some good things happened. The ``Twelve`` looked into the matter and brought about some changes. They realized first of all that they were investing their energy in the wrong place, were neglecting what was important, and they instituted the Diaconate. Speaking out, holding things to the light, brought about transformation. I wonder what would have happened if the Hellenists had not spoken out. Perhaps simmering discontent would have quietly undermined or even destroyed the community.

It was heartening to read [also in Frank Moloney on Exegesis and Control by Ivo Coelho] a highly respected scholar like Fr. Francis Moloney (I submit I have great admiration for him, coming from reading his books) telling the Chapter members how the Magisterium has been reduced to the writings of just the present and the previous Pope, forgetting ``our rich Christian tradition, now 2,000 years old``; how he fears that attempts may be made to undermine Verbum Dei`s (which Moloney describes as ``One of the most subversive documents to come out of the Second Vatican Council``) declaration that the Magisterium is at the service of the Word and not the other way around; that ``an open-minded acceptance of the challenges that emerge from a critical reading of the Scriptures has not found a home in the Catholic Church nor its Religious Congregations``; his personal frustrations as a scholar ``trained for 40 years to think critically, now trying to lead a Province in a situation where the Church - and much of the Congregation - rejects such an approach to the Christian and the religious life``; and his calling attention to ``the sometimes fanatical repression of any attempt to raise a critical voice.`` Courageous and honest words from an acclaimed scholar and committed Salesian before the leadership of the Congregation! Cheers!

It was also heartening to read how Moloney`s courageous reflection inspired one Salesian theologian to openly acknowledge how he was allowed to teach only if he wrote things he was told to write, ``kept in a playpen and not let out to disturb the good order of the theological household,`` to use Raymond Brown`s analogy. Courageous holding up of things to light. Cheers!

Ivo`s comment on Moloney`s reflections seems to imply that it would be better for the Magisterium to speak rather than for individual theologians to speak. No matter who speaks, no one has the whole truth. Each of us see things from our own perspectives and our vantage points, we get one slice of the cake. To claim that  one`s own view is the true one, that one has the whole of the truth, or that one`s slice of cake is the whole cake,  no matter what his/her position on the power hierarchy, is being presumptuous, is going beyond one`s brief. It is in sharing the differing views that clarity and consensus emerge. And to respect differing views is an expression of nobility.

Ivo described Moloney`s Goodnight as ``provocative.`` Cheers for provocation! Provocation usually triggers reactions and I do hope Moloney`s provocation triggers reactions that lead to profound transformations in beliefs, attitudes and behaviour, and also encourage others to be provocative. Not to change is to subject oneself to slow death and decay. Cheers to (hopefully) change and transformation!

It is relevant to cite here something I read again just recently form Barbara Fiand. She writes:
``Only when authority closes its eyes to issues at hand, refuses to probe deeper and to ask us to do the same, does indecision and lethargy set in and empowerment cease. Obedience ceases then also and a life dedicated to attentive listening turns into aimless drifting. Instead of challenging ourselves and the way we live to greater authenticity corresponding ever more clearly to our pronounced commitment, we begin rather to move unthinkingly into life-styles of one kind or another only to find ourselves at some point down the line renaming our situations to suit the status quo without ever seeking to know how we got there`` (Living the Vision, 1990, p. 135).

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