by Joshua McElwee, National Catholic Reporter
NEW ROCHELLE, NY — Arguments among Catholics boil down to disagreement between two key concepts, says Peter Steinfels: inclusion and identity.
Those who put themselves in the inclusion camp — typically thought of as “liberals” — are concerned with making sure everyone feels welcomed; those in the identity camp — typically thought of as “conservatives” — with knowing what makes a Catholic a Catholic.
While “reality is more complex and subtle,” theologians have a unique opportunity to ensure those raised in the faith are “rooted in a master identity,” the journalist said here Saturday during for the College Theology Society’s annual convention.
The comments of Steinfels, author, former Commonweal editor andNew York Times religion writer, came during the 57th annual convention of the society, which was held at Iona College here through Sunday. He and his wife Margaret were honored with the society’s “presidential award” at a banquet Saturday night for their “distinguished contributions as premier interpreters, commentators, and shapers of public opinion on American Catholic life and thought.”
Peter’s response to the award? A thank-you to theologians for their work.
“Insofar as you take on this daunting task — succeeding a little, failing a little, trying again, learning from your students, learning from your colleagues, learning from the world, learning from the inexhaustible riches of our faith,” he said, “I want to thank you and congratulate you from the very bottom of my heart.”
Over the weekend some 260 professors gathered for the society’s conference, which was titled: “They Shall be Called Children of God: Violence, Transformation, and the Sacred.” That theme was an attempt to acknowledge that we live in a society that’s “kind of surrounded” by “sacralized violence,” said Jesuit Fr. William Clark, an associate professor at College of the Holy Cross.