To engage world, Church must seek and be with other seekers

A philosopher’s idea that there are faith “seekers” and “dwellers” is sparking debate about how the Church engages with the world.

The idea is that of Canadian philosopher Charles Taylor, who was one of the main speakers at an international conference on Church renewal in Rome this month.

According to a Catholic News Service report, much of the conversation at the conference, held at the Pontifical Gregorian University, dwelt on Taylor’s ideas.

The seekers – baptised Christians or not – continue to question, the report stated.

The dwellers have found a home in a church and may have a tendency to nest there so thoroughly that they seldom reach out to others and only accept those who believe exactly as they do.

Msgr Tomas Halik, a Czech professor of sociology, said God is present in the seekers and the seeking.

In addition to its two traditional tasks of providing pastoral care to Catholics and missionary outreach to those who have not heard of Christ, the Church needs to add a third task – “accompanying seekers”, Msgr Halik said.

“We cannot be just arrogant owners of the truth,” he said. “We must be seekers for the seekers, with the seekers.”

He said Pope Francis’s pastoral approach is essentially a call to all Catholics to reach out to those seeking meaning, truth, beauty and justice.

At the same time, however, it is also an invitation to be willing to learn more about God from the seekers’ questions and experience.

Dr Taylor said he sees “immense numbers of young people looking for meaning”.

However, with young people and the Church, he said, you see “great hunger on one side” and “great treasures on the other side”, but there is an increasing inability to bring the two sides together.

“There’s something deeply perverse or stupid or wrong about that,” he said.

The Church needs to talk to the seekers, listen to their concerns and figure out how to connect with them, he said.


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News category: World.

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