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Thursday, 15 February 2007

The nature of the Faith Symposium

In answer to questions such as "Can I go?" and "Can we read the papers?" I should say a word or two about the nature of this event. The Symposium grew out of discussions between priests and theology graduates at the various events organised by the Faith Movement for students and by seminarians during their studies. We have two major events for students each year and a number of series of talks in various places to give a coherent presentation of Catholic doctrinal, moral and spiritual teaching. At these events, there was an obvious need for those who had studied theology to go into matters rather more deeply. The Symposium is designed to meet this need.

It is a relatively small group: we were just under 30 participants and that is about right for a lively discussion. The presentations assume the ability to discuss theology at graduate level and a reasonable familiarity with what might be called the Faith "School" of theology. It would probably be right to say that participation is generally by invitation from among those who have been at Faith events for some time. The majority of the participants are priests. There are also a number of laymen and women (including Sr Andrea Fraile of the Sisters of the Gospel of Life).

The papers from the Symposium are not published as "proceedings" but make their way into the Faith Magazine after some fairly rigorous peer review and editing. The discussions generate a lot of new ideas for papers which eventually get written subject to the demands of pastoral and other work. The priests are mostly working in parishes and the laity are in full time work and/or have family responsibilities.

Perhaps the most important thing to say is that we value Catholic philosophy and theology very highly. At the heart of the crisis in the Church today is a crisis in philosophy and theology provoked by the growing "dictatorship of relativism" so eloquently highlighted by Pope Benedict. We are trying to respond positively and determinedly to this crisis with complete loyalty to the Magisterium and, by God's grace, with personal holiness of life as an absolute first priority for priests, religious and laity.
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