Church & Laity: More on the Sensus Fidelium

Michael Bayley at the Wild Reed has already noted how his post on Richard Sipe, with his observations about sexuality and the sensus fidelium, has provoked widespread comment. I want to elaborate now on why this should have been so, and why it is important – and also to address some of the confusion in that comment.

Sipe’s observations were just a few comments extracted from a longer article on the coming reformation of the church: “Sexuality Sets Stage for Church’s Next Reformation, Expert Predicts.” (Arthur Jones, NCR January 2003). Let us not forget this context.  Many other observers have commented on the same idea, not as something to be desired, but as an imminent event. The challenge then, is to identify the ways in which we can accelerate and participate in this Kairos moment. But before venturing into the bigger picture, we must consider the specific points covered in the original Wild Reed post, and the subsequent discussion.

In the short extract posted, Sipe notes that there is a sharp divergence in thinking between the hierarchy and the laity on matters of sexuality, and goes on to remind us that in terms of traditional teaching on the sensus fidelium (SF), a teaching which does not carry with it the support of the faithful as a whole, lacks authority. It was this observation in particular that produced most of the vigorous discussion. Read the rest of this entry »

Synchronicity: Thinking (and Speaking) Together

I wrote a couple of days ago how about how closely Richard Sipe’s comments (quoted at the Wild Reed) on sexuality and the church, on the sensus fidelium, and the hierarchy, so closely matched the conclusions I was reaching myself.  What I didn’t know at the time,  was that William Lindsey posted a comment at the Wild Reed immediately after my own with almost identical thoughts on the comments thread. Bill, like me, also wrote about this in his own blog, drawing attention to the “synchronicity” involved:  Colleen Kochivar – Baker too had been writing along similar lines. Since then, Bill has written again about the synchronicities involved.

“Synchronicity” is a word I have been using a lot lately, especially in private correspondence with Bill Lindsey.  There have been several occasions where one or other of us have been wanting to write on a particular topic, but have been slow to do so:  then found the other has written something  almost identical.  As illustration, the story of the South African athlete is one example.  As a South African travelling in that country as the news broke of rumoured gender test results, I was thinking of writing, but stalled as I wondered if it was strictly relevant to this blog .  No sooner had I decided to put something together, than I found that Bill had written a post with almost identical thoughts to my own, so I left the topic alone, except for a comment at Bilgrimage.   There have also been other examples.

“Synchronicity” is a word carefully chosen, in clear distinction to “co-incidence”.  In strictly temporal terms, they mean much the same thing, but “co-incidence” implies an occurrence due purely to chance.  “Synchronicity” has no such connotation, and suggests instead at least the possibility of some linking causality- such as (perhaps) the influence of the Holy Spirit. Read the rest of this entry »