Humanism

 

October 20 2017 in a lecture for some Belgian critical Catholics Jean-Pol Gallez painted the original meaning of the message of Jesus.

He based his argument on studies of theology professor Joseph Moingt (1915-)

 

The starting point was that the authoritarian structure of the Church is out of time,  a generally accepted idea of reform-minded Catholics.

 

Moingt has found the origin of this structure in a long-lasting confrontation of the young churches with worldly authorities which were organized monarchical.

 

Disastrous for the gospel was the coupling of that accepted structure to religion. The churches once succumbed to the temptation to equip their authoritarian structure with a religious priestly system that could compete with the Jews.

 

Moingt has found in his theology study that neither Jesus during his life nor his pupils during the first two centuries after his death have mentioned ritual acts that should be performed by special persons. There were initially no classes in the church. There were no religious laws.

 

This conclusion fits with the emphasis that Jesus had placed on charity, on the abolition of priestly conduct and of the avoidance of formal rules. Only personal conscience would have rules for distinguishing good from evil.

 

The misleading nature of religion in general is the alleviating of selected people above the footmen and women by giving these some exclusive mysterious privileges.

 

The introduction of this sort of religion contravenes totally the core message of Jesus, the liberation from discrimination and separatism  God has given all people, men and women the same universal rights.

 

A second reason why religion does not fit well with the message of Jesus, has to do with the action required. Most people think that religion essentially is serving God with prayer and gifts. Jesus puts serving people first. Therefore Christianity essentially is different from Judaism and from other religions. Following Jesus paramount is not joining a religion but a striving for a sort of evangelical humanism.

 

The evangelical humanist brings the gospel into the secular world because as followers of Jesus they have accepted ther general priesthood, as elaborated extensively during the Vatican Council. Counselors counted it the calling of Christians to humanize the world with universal charity in accordance with the message of Jesus of Nazareth. They take pity on fellow human beings unpretentiously.

 

Those who are aware of this universal humanistic task can bring Christianity back to its own foundation. The question is, of course, how, where and when.

 

Moingt calls it pointless to reinforce the so-called sanctified authorities with a new generation of young priests,  to strive for the ordination of women as bishops or to allow married men to be ordained. No, first and foremost, there is the task of all followers to serve mankind with charity and promote universal humanism.

 

Moingt wants to be realistic. Evntually he calls the renewed foundation of the Church on its roots impossible  on short terms,  a hope against better knowledge. The chance that sitting religious leaders will give up their position is extremely small or simply non-existent. Pure Christianity can therefore only become a reality outside the grip of power holders and outside the established order. He sees it happen in small communities that do not flee for opposition or crawl away but that deliberately gradually withdraw from wrong action without breaking away from friends. Baptism can stay freely available as a symbol for publicly acknowledging that one accepts the task of evangelical humanism. In addition everyone in a small circle can celebrate Eucharist with bread and wine in combination with the memorable words with which Jesus asked his diciples to follow his example. You can add that directors and pastors like other followers of Jesus  remain human after an appointment with the same humanistic mission.

 

Afterthought

 

Unfortunately, many small communities as well as (former parishes) are heirs to a church building and a liturgy. Although many church buildings have been closed and liturgy is changing, pastors, whether they want or not, have to take into account an attachment to tradition. Churchgoers like to be reminded of religion even if they know that part of it is unrealistic mythology.

 

One can notice that communities without an extended social program and depending on chants and only a few coordinators drop away as soon as a coordinator, the organist or the choir pulls out.

 

Regular gathering of a more or less permanent group socially moved participants promotes mutual solidarity that develops into at least internal helpfulness. They need volunteers who see the usefulness of a soup kitchen, a shelter, debt counseling, a visit group and guidance for conscientious decisions.

 

Consciousness is a theme that is not often discussed. It means engaging in the discussion about unwanted pregnancy, intended number of children, hospitality, family planning, tax avoidance, refugee assistance, generosity, voluntary work, informal care and neighborly assistance.

 

In Kenya they are giving us an example. There are reports that small communities over there have two meetings a week, a religious one and one focused on charity.

 

One might add that all volunteers with roots in Christianity even if they never go to church but who take care of family, friends or of some underprivileged, might be the upcoming  generation of evangelical humanists.