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The Authority of the Holy Revisited: Habermas, Religion, and Emancipatory Possibilities

Author(s): Michele Dillon
Source: Sociological Theory, Vol. 17, No. 3 (Nov., 1999), pp. 290-306
Published by: American Sociological Association
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/370187 .
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In this ideal- istic communicative context. Faith.Althoughthedatapresentedtake issue withHabermas'sdisavowal of religion."participantsseek to reach a common understandingof the situation or question at issue and of plans for mutually agreed. is the mechanism that facilitates and pushes social action. DC 20005-4701 . among other things. Specifically. if necessary. The purpose of reciprocal deliberationis to find a reasoned consensus that in turnbecomes the basis for action. Religion.its longstandingtheologicalemphasison thecouplingoffaithandreason. that is. I highlight the doctrinal differentiationwithin Catholi- cism.:75).Washington. being gay or lesbian and Catholic). (1984:17-18) Habermas'sconcept of an ideal speech situationruled by reason has been criticized on many grounds. to moti- vate them to accept the validity claim in question.:100). sentiment.O.. and language capabilities *Address correspondenceto the authorat Departmentof Sociology.normativerightness.1307New YorkAvenueNW. Yale University. rather than appeals to tradition. SociologicalTheory17:3November1999 ? AmericanSociologicalAssociation.his theorizingmarginalizesthe importanceof power inequal- ities in social interactionand the differentinterests. CT 06520-8265. P.institutional reflexivity. Communicativeaction is thus a cooperative process of reasoned interpretive negotiation "in which no participanthas a monopoly on correct interpretation"(ibid. whetheror not an argumentis able to convince the participantsin a discourse.experiences. the article shows that the practical relevance of doctrinal reasoning at both the institu- tional and the individuallevel vindicateHabermas'sfaith in the emancipatorypotential of reasoned argumentationto advance participative equality. that can be seen in. participantsuse language to raise validity claims about the propositionaltruth.edu. Central to Jiirgen Habermas'sTheory of CommunicativeAction is the proposition that critically reasoned deliberation.. I thank Craig Calhoun and two reviewers for their helpful suggestions. As Habermaselaborates. 1999).. and Emancipatory Possibilities* MICHELE DILLON Yale University Thisarticle argues thatJiirgenHabermas'sview of religion as anathemato rational crit- ical discourse reflectshis misunderstandingthatreligion comprisesa monolithicand im- mutablebody of dogma that is closed to reason. Box 208265. Catholic Identity: Balancing Reason. they could under suitable circumstancesprovide reasons for their expressions . or religious belief. Communicativelyachieved agreementmust be based in the end on reasons. and Power (CambridgeUniversity Press.In particular. Illustrativedatafrom Catholic history andtheologyandempiricaldatagatheredfromcontemporaryAmerican Catholicsare used to show the weaknesses in Habermas'snegation of the possibility of a self-critical reli- gious discourse.And the rationality of those who participate in this communicative practice is determined whether. future action (1984:86). The "strength" of an argument is measured in a given context by the soundness of the reasons. New Haven. The Authority of the Holy Revisited: Habermas.g. In Habermas's "ideal speech situation.The argumentpresentedin this paperis derivedfrom a broader study entitled.dillon@yale..and the doctrinallyreflexivereasoningthatcontemporaryCatholicsuse in ne- gotiating whatmightappear as "contradictory" identities(e. michele. and sincerity of statementsmade by one another (ibid.

or of the influence of Muslim philosophy on Catholic theologians such as Thomas Aquinas (see Esposito 1998:74). and how as part of this process. His evolutionaryschema of societal devel- opment sees religion losing its relevance in a modern. Given Habermas'sembraceof what Iris Young (1990:125) calls "thedisembodiedcold- ness of modernreason. diverse religious traditionsare open to reasoned self-criticism. and its subsequentreemergence and impact on debates within Christianityespecially evident in the sixteenth and seven- teenth centuries (see Popkin 1979:xiv-xviii)."Yet the implications of individuals' participationin specific social and cultural contexts are ignored by Habermas(see Delanty 1997). since the redemptive faith beliefs of a religious traditioncannotbe rationallycritiqued. Accordingly. and he overlooks. or the coupling of "faith and reason"in Catholictheology evident in variousguises from SaintAugustineonwards(McCool 1977). In Habermas's view. Saint Augustine).HABERMASAND RELIGION 291 that participantsbring to a particularcommunicative context (see. the modernistdebates within Islam in the late nineteenthcentury (Esposito 1998:126-57). for example. Habermassim- ilarly ignores the place of reason in these religious traditions. Nor does he pay any attentionto the differ- entiating impact on religious traditionsof the cross-fertilizationof ideas between Judaism and Christianity(see Popkin and Weiner 1994).rhetorical.and sto- rytelling dimensions of communication (Young 1996). "the auraof raptureand terrorthat emanatesfrom the sacred. Habermastakes no account of the influence of Greekphilosophical scep- ticism on early religious thinkers (e.. He treats religion as a monolithic and reified phenom- enon. does not recognize the multiplicityof strandsand discoursesthat are characteristicof both premodernand post-Enlightenmentreligions. Habermasfails to appreciatethis.neitheris it possible to mount a reasoneddefense of the validity of particulartenets of faith. His religion thesis thus takes no accountof the self-conscious legitimatingrole of reasoned argumentationin Judaism (see Fisch 1997:39). a reasoned religious discourse would necessarily shed its religious component. Gould 1996.g. Moreover as PatriciaHill Collins (1990:212) observes. Habermas's emphasison reason negates the relevance of emotion and the affective attachmentsthat are part of people's experiences. It is of course true thatjust as one cannot defend one's aesthetic or culturaltastes using reasons thatcan be objectively validated. but from the universe of argumentative discourse that is uncoupled from the event of revelation" (ibid. Religion. Habermas's conceptual polarization of religion and reason obscures the historically ongoing hermeneutic and interpretiveactivity involved in understandingrevelation. For example. Calhoun 1995. italics in original). Frazer and Lacey 1993:19-21. is one such sphere. and underappreciatesthe metaphorical. 144-47. and in doing so. is sublimatedinto the binding/bonding force of criticizable validity claims and at the same time turned into an everyday occurrence" (ibid. "new knowledge claims arerarelyworkedout in isolation from other individuals and are developed throughdialogue with other membersof a community. Yetjust because religious faith cannot be ratio- nally defended does not mean that all aspects of a religious traditionare closed to reason."it is not a surprisethatHabermasdismisses validity claims that are taintedby their association with what he sees as nonrationaldomains of life. as the HarvardCatholic theologian Francis Schussler Fiorenza points out.he regardsreligious discourse "as limited in the degree of its freedom of communication"(1992:233).:233).. For Habermas. how transformations in religion and theology have brought "the critical principles of Enlightenmentinto reli- gion itself and into theological reflection" (1992:74).the spellbindingpower of the holy. . because it would be "no longer borrowed from the language of a specific religious tradition. for Habermas(see 1975:120). Young 1996). rationally differentiatedsociety wherein "the authorityof the holy is graduallyreplaced by the authorityof an achieved consensus"(1987:77).

Catholicismis not a mono- lithic tradition.the didacticism of the doctrinal positions expressed by the current pope (John Paul II.doctrines. Thus."no noninterpretiveahistoricalessences to be found in words like Christianity. who critique the theory of communicative action for its bias toward the status quo." This article uses Catholicism to illustratethe limitations of Habermas'sunderstanding of religion. 1978-). therefore. in many cases. I draw on historical accounts and on empirical data gatheredamong contem- poraryAmericanCatholics to demonstratethat religious doctrineis differentiated. even what might be consid- ered the core tenets of a religious traditionhave. or Hinduism. "no such thing as an unambiguoustradition" (1987:36-37). in part. The contextualnatureof doctrineis even more pronouncedin the case of official church stricturesregardinginstitutionalpracticesandpersonalmorality. Since reli- gion. Within each of these greatways and amongthe many similaritiesthatrenderthem distinctfamilies.hermeneuticactivity." and as such. as indicatedfrom earliest times by the rhetoricaldevices and representationalforms used in scripturalaccounts. the .and that doctrinallyreflexive critiqueis a centralfeatureboth of the Catholic Churchas an institutionand of Catholics' dispositions towardreligiousdoctrine.doctrinalinter- pretationsand the argumentsadvancedto supportparticularinterpretationswill necessar- ily be contingent on the specific contexts in which various religious paradigms are appropriatedand given meaning. Islam. and practices are not the product of a divinely prescribed blueprintbut evolve and vary in response to differentsocietal circumstances. political.:95). There is. In particular. Buddhist. see also Fisch 1997:190). DOCTRINALDIFFERENTIATION At first glance. "revelationis a historical process. as the Catholic theologian David Tracy argues.Yet to see Catholicism solely throughthese lenses is to obfuscate many other strandswithin its long and multifacetedtradition. For example. been subjectto interpretive contestation.and what particularstrandsget accentuatedat any one time may be seen in large part as a reflection of various cross-cutting historical.Dogma is not pregiven but is extrapolatedand developed over time.the church's episodes of antimodernism(see Kurtz 1986) culminatingwith the formalizationof papal infallibility at VaticanI (1869-70). for example.an interpretive. of making manifest something that was hidden. There are. Buddhism. Muslim.292 SOCIOLOGICALTHEORY Contraryto Habermas'sundifferentiatedand static view of religion. As argued by Paul Ricoeur (1995:72). and especially pronounced following the declaration of papal infallibility at the end of the nineteenth century.papal claims since the Middle Ages to the supremacyand universality of its interpretive authority. The differentiationwithin Catholicism derives from the fact that the church's organi- zational structure. and cultural vari- ables. "the process of revelation is a permanentprocess of opening something that is closed. Catholicism may present as an unlikely religious traditionto choose as a counterpointto Habermas'sview of religion as a monopolizing and coercive interpretive force. although the church from Apostolic times has affirmed the human incarnationof Christ.Jewish. may be used to argue that the Catholic Churchprivileges the authorityof hierarchicaloffice and the invocation of dogma and traditionover reasoned communication. or Hindu" (ibid.is. every tradition contains a "pluralityof ways" (see Tracy 1987:95.Judaism. It is evident.that its discourse incorporatesreasoned argumentation. and more contemporaneously. early church councils (Antioch and Nicaea) elaboratedon this belief in response to Gnostic and other heretical interpretations.I suggestthatHabermas'srefusalto acknowl- edge the emancipatorypossibilities derivedfrom doctrinalreasoningmeans thathe ignores evidence that can be used to counterargueagainst scholars such as Iris Young (1996). that even though an emphasis on papal authorityhas been a significant characteristicof the churchsince the middle ages. thereremain many ways to be Christian.Buildingon this data.

. The mutualitybetween faith and reason has many implicationsfor the developmentand elaborationof Catholicdoctrine. the Catholic theological tradition has had a longstanding theological emphasis on the coupling of faith and reason. in fact. "sincere assent" to the teachings of the church hierarchycannot be coerced (Sullivan 1983:162). the ban on women's ordination. and ordinaryCatholics may reasonably question the definitiveness or infallibility of specific papal pronouncementssuch as. Reconstructedhistorical accounts point to evidence of an egalitarian and communal church. among other issues. The exercise of papal infallibility is thus constrainedby the communicative "consensus"that exists within the church on a particularissue. 223).This emphasis contrastswith perspectives that privilege either a biblical literalism or a "blind leap" approachto faith (McCool 1977). the church'scanon law affirmsthe consensual collegial basis of the churchhierarchy'steach- ing authority(Sullivan 1991:59). The embrace of a practical. the universal claims of the papacy were restrictedin practice by local churchsynods (see Grant1970:157-59. its doctrinalethics must engage with the practicaldilem- mas confrontedby people in their particularsociohistorical context." That there are multiple and mutable strandswithin Catholicism is furtherhighlighted by the early history of the church. The medieval historian Brian Tierney (1971:863) argues that although "[a]11 the standardCatholic discussions of infallibility emphasize continuity ratherthan change in the church's teaching on this matter. for example. . divorce (e. slavery. Catholic doctrine on. The discontinuities in official church teaching are also evident in the domain of per- sonal and public morality. Noonan 1993). The mutualityof faith and reason has importantimplications for how the "authorityof the holy" is understood within the institutional bounds of the church and in the daily routines of Catholics. ratherthan by appeals to traditionor formal authority. Hollister 1964:216.Thus.g..It confers the expec- tation that church teachings should be reasonableand should make practical sense. Since Catholic theology is not derived from a biblical fundamentalismbut is a "living tradition"(Curran1992).. even though official church statementstoday may refer to the absolute and unchangingnatureof the church's position on an issue such as abortion. Accordingly. Therefore. that even though the contemporary papacy uses a ratherexpansive interpretationof its power to define Catholic identity. It is noteworthy.HABERMASAND RELIGION 293 institutionalizationof papal infallibility was driven by sociopolitical ratherthan theolog- ical forces. and homosexuality (Boswell 1984. 1994) has undergonemajor transformationsover time in response to the exigencies of particularhistorical and cultural contexts. usury. abortion(Connery 1977).Even as the church became more bureaucratizedand imperialist. for example. in the absence of such a consensus. bishops. for example. FAITHAND REASON Equally relevant. it must be facilitatedratherby the artic- ulation of sound reasons in supportof the doctrinalinterpretationoffered. Following the major influence of Saint Augustine on the development of Christiantheology.it is evident that the alleged "constanttradition"that is invoked contains. theologians. while at the same time recognizing that faith itself should not be subject to a disembodiedratio- nalism. communicative reason highlights the fact that assent to churchteaching is a cognitive process requiringan act of reflective judgment. more akin to a "discipleship of equals" (see SchtisslerFiorenza 1993) than to an authoritarianhierarchicalstructure. it is very hard for a historianto see the emer- gence of the doctrine of papal infallibility as the slow unfolding of a truththat the church has always held. appreciationfor the practicalinter- relation between faith and reason has been a centerpiece of the Catholic tradition. many doctrinalruptures.

The council stated that "by their combined efforts" lay people should "remedyany institutionsand conditions of the world which are customarily an inducementto sin. 227).' In the case of Catholicism. VaticanII's doctrinalandinstitutionalcritiqueset many wide-rangingchangesin motion. At the same time. Catholicism can be seen as containing resources that nurturethe "promiseof emancipation"from the inequalitiesthatit itself createsthroughits exclusionary rules (regardingwomen. for example).VaticanII can be seen as an institutional counterpoint to the church's antimodernismthat was crystallized by Vati- can I's authoritarianismalmost one hundredyears earlier(see Seidler and Meyer 1989). and of Catholic identity as a whole. or gays and lesbians.: 64-65. .Similar to other modern institutionalmechanisms such as democracy or law. It was clearly the council's intent that contradictionswithin the church should be the object of collective action. nonetheless.:63).Since people are responsible for "the progress of culture. the doctrinalsynthesis it articulatedsought to balance the pri- macy of the interpretiveauthorityof the churchhierarchywith a new emphasis on respect for lay competence and reasoneddialogue among all churchmembers(and between Cath- olics and non-Catholics). That VaticanII obligated the formationof prochangemovements to reconstructa more egalitarianchurchwas also apparentfrom its understandingof culture. the Second VaticanCouncil (1962-65) offers a clear exam- ple of the church engaging in a reasoned critique of its teachings and practices.This precludes him from appreciatingthe ways in which religious insti- tutions use reflexivity and rational critique in their own doctrines and practices in ways that seek to be emancipatory. for example. 'Ulrich Beck (1992:183) argues that modernity"has become the threatand the promise of emancipationfrom the threatthat it creates itself" (emphasis in original).:245). Vatican II was emphatic that the laity should be given "every opportunity"to "participatein the saving work of the Church. and critical-emancipatoryrole in the modernworld.The council affirmed thatmen and women are the conscious "artisansand authors"of theirculture. Significantly. In church history. This exhortationsuggestedthatlay participationextended to saving the church from inegalitarianpractices that contravenethe church'sown admo- nition that greaterrecognition be given to the "just freedom" and "basic equality" of all (ibid. VaticanII should not be seen as an aberrationin the church's history since its emphases on communal equality and communicative reason (discussed below) were clearly in continuity with strandsin the early church and with the church's communal responsiveness highlighted throughouthistory by changes in official church doctrines. stating: "it does not escape the Churchhow greata distance lies between the message she offers and the human failings of those to whom the gospel is entrusted"(ibid. public."and that lay people should be permittedand obliged to express informedopinions on issues pertainingto "thegood of the Church"(Abbott 1966:60.294 SOCIOLOGICALTHEORY INSTITUTIONALREFLEXIVITYAND COMMUNICATIVEREASON Habermas'sargumentthat in moderntimes the spellbindingpower of the holy is displaced by the binding force of criticizable validity claims demonstrateshis one-sided view of religion and his dichotomous positioning of religion as anathemato critically reasoned communication."the council noted that this may lead them to look "anxiously upon many contradictions which [they] will have to resolve" (Abbott 1966:261). VaticanII is widely considered a revolu- tionary event (O'Malley 1989:19) that opened the church to a more active. so that all such things may be conformed to the norms of justice" (ibid. In particular. VaticanII acknowledged the gap between theory and practice in the church's institutionallife and arguedthat it should be redeemed. Of particularsignificance.64).

and in the largergeopolitical sphere (see Casanova 1994.the churchhierarchymust present "clear and convincing reasons"for its teachings.2 In sum.Habermas'sundifferentiatedview of religion cannot accom- modate the fact that a religious tradition'sown view of "the holy" evolves and shifts in response to changing socioculturalconditions and as part of collective self-reflexive pro- cesses that incorporatean historical consciousness. voice [their] mind." or what Esposito [1998:127] refers to as the "processof internalself-criticism"in Islamic modernism). Douglass and Hollenbach 1994) where it seeks a more participativeand egalitarian global culture in which discrimination against the weak is not the price of 2VaticanII's exhortationthatpeople should "tryto enlighten one another"(italics mine) might be seen by some readersas an affirmationof the secondaryrole of reason relative to the primacyof papal or hierarchicalauthority in deciding unsettled questions in the church.. and observed that people must "be free to search for the truth. and thatthis has been the case.to furtherthis endeavor. these aims are apparent within the church'sown institutionalboundaries.Nonetheless.. it is apparentthat the council did not intend a narrow view of lay competence that was limited to nonreligious issues. a critique. to a greateror lesser degree. and thus as Sullivan (1983:165) argues.:65). emancipa- tory purposesfavored by Habermas(1987:393): the realizationof Enlightenmentvalues of equality. persuasion is not guaranteedby reasoned argumentation.Althoughthe councilreminded the laity that they should give "close attention to the teaching authorityof the Church" (ibid. This clearly is not just true of Cathol- icism.g. it nevertheless rejected the authorityof sacred office in favor of the authority of communicative reason. In Catholicism.HABERMASAND RELIGION 295 VaticanII explicitly affirmedthe reasoned interpretiveequality of all churchmembers. to appropriatethe Church'sauthorityfor his opinion. but is also evident in varying ways in other religious traditions (e. the open-ended natureof rea- soned dialogue is not an excuse for the superiorityof pronouncementsmade by fiat.and the freedom to express theirminds humbly and courageously aboutthose mattersin which they enjoy competence"(ibid. and publicize it" (Abbott 1966:265). for example. moreover.are used for the offensive.that VaticanII itself executed.. . possess a lawful freedom of inquiryand of thought. the "try"should more appropriatelybe understoodas recognizing the fact that indeed as Habermas(1996:35) observes. provides evidence of a religious institution acknowledging that its own religious traditionis subjectto reasonedcritique. rather. The acceptance of doctrinal pronouncementsis a cognitive process. justice.The relatively open-ended interpretive activity obliged by institutional self-criticism means that Habermas further misrecognizes that religion is not solely about cosmological or other-worldlyconcerns. It stated: "it is necessary for people to rememberthat no one is allowed . all the faithful. The council clarified in fact that it would be throughdialogue with the laity that pastors would "more clearly and more suitably come to decisions regarding spiritual and temporal matters" (ibid. in the overall context of VaticanII's emphasis on com- munal equality and its insistence that no one is allowed to appropriatethe church'sauthorityfor his/her opinion. This overview of various strandswithin Catholicism illustratesthat "theholy" is multi- faceted and contextuallyfluid.:244. 269-70). However. Most important..:244). what Fisch [1997:43] identifies as the "self-doubting voice of talmudic culture. Vatican II recognized the importance of engaged critical dialogue as central both to the church's communal vibrancy and to the obligation to bridge the gap between values and practices in its own institutionallife (and in society as a whole).VaticanII insti- tutionalizedthe centralityof deliberativecommunaldialogue. This readingof Vatican II. and communal participation. They should always try to enlighten one another through honest discussion .:270). since the church'sfoundation. clerical and lay. Religious resources. Critiquewas clearly envisaged as a process of ongoing communal delib- eration and one that extended to interrogatingthe doctrinal validity of institutionaldoc- trines and practices that contravenethe church's own ethics of. therefore.. Since VaticanII also aspiredfor lay people to "develop and deepen"their under- standing of the "sacredsciences" (ibid. equality.

or. Haber- mas's misunderstandingcomes from his monolithic view of religion and his conceptuali- zation of it as severed from practicalreason and everyday experiences. RELIGIOUSIDENTITYAND DOCTRINALCONTESTATION Habermas'sconstrualof the spellbindingpower of religion is also stronglyat odds with the critical disposition taken by contemporarybelievers toward religion. The Vaticanis also opposed to the idea of women priests andhas declaredthatopposition to women's ordinationshould be accepted as part of the deposit of Catholic faith (Congregationfor the Doctrine of the Faith 1995:405). The data on advocates of women's ordinationis derived from a self-administeredquestionnairesurvey of a random representativesample (N = 214) of membersof the Women's OrdinationConference (WOC). in-depth interviews with select members. Dignity argues that the acceptance of gay and lesbian sexuality is compatiblewith Catholicism. Specifically. an American-basedassociation committedto the ordinationof women in the Catholic Church. as a "community of interpretation"whose role is "to engage in a critical reconstructiveinterpretationof [its] normative religious and moral traditions in relation to social and political praxis"(1992:67). and transgenderedCatholics. it is not surprisingthatidentity "contradictions"may arise in ways that make religious identity itself an object of contestationby its adherents. a local chapter of Dignity/USA.Let me illus- trate this by drawing on data from research I have conducted with Catholics who are objectivelymarginalizedin official churchteaching(see Dillon 1999 for furtherelaboration). and Catholics who favor the ordinationof women.What both of these conflicting assumptions miss is that for partici- pants in a religious tradition.on the otherhand. with the politics of difference making difference a source of subculturalcelebrationratherthan social stigma. I focus on Catholics who are openly gay or lesbian. bisexual. Once again. defines gay or lesbian sexual relations as immoral and regards Catholics who are openly gay or lesbian as "contradic- tory"Catholics who "eitherignore the teaching of the church or seek somehow to under- mine it" (Congregationfor the Doctrineof the Faith 1986:382).all-encompassing and unproblematic. Berger.The findings I reporthere are based on an ethnographicstudy conductedof the chapter'sactivities (primarilyits weekly mass). and Kellner 1973:71-74). Since religion is one of multiple identity bases (along with gender and sexuality. The gay and lesbian Catholics whom I studied are mem- bers of Dignity/Boston. a national association of gay.religious identity is one of many interlocking and publicly salient identities. and a self-administeredquestionnairesurvey of the chapter's members. as FrancisSchuss- ler Fiorenza argues. Habermas'sview of religion cannot be reconciled with the empiricalreality of a churchunderstoodin practice. lesbian.296 SOCIOLOGICALTHEORY social progress (see John Paul II 1995).for example). Catholics who are gay or lesbian or who favor women's equality in the church are thus participatingin a traditionin which the legitimacy of their identity claims is denied by church officials.for example. It furtherderives from the implicit assumptionthatreligious identity is either privatizedand irrelevantin its practicalimplicationsfor emancipatorysocial change. the WOC sample respondedto open-ended questions asking them to explain how their stance on women's ordinationfits with their understandingof Catholicism.The Vatican. Overall. Participantsin Dignity andWOC areCatholicswho continueto remainactively involved in Catholicismnotwithstandingthe fact thatofficial churchteachingdenouncestheirrespec- tive interpretationsof Catholicism. and what theological and socioculturalreasons favor women's ordination. Although we live in a time when identity is considered an individuated "design project"(Berger. the Cath- olics I have studiedchoose to maintainlinks with the institutionalchurchand to work from .Among otherquestions.

Since participationin a religious traditionis an interpretiveactivity depen- dent on a contextually groundedconstructionof meaning. their weekly Mass is the prime community activity and the site in which they contest and experimentwith the boundariesof Catholicism. Since Dignity is prohib- ited by the Vatican from using Catholic church facilities.It is evident none- theless that although Dignity is independent of the official church. It is this reflexive engagement with Catholicism that allows Dignity participantsto enact the legitimacy of both their Cathol- . 1985:153) that both empowers and constrainstheir doctrinalcri- tique. the sole "producer"of Catholicism. as affirmed by Vatican II.interpretivepower in the church is not located solely in the official hierarchicalstructure. their immersion in the tradition as "a community of memory" (Bellah et al. At Dignity/Boston. This process sees them demonstratingthe malleability and interpretivediversity of doctrinal symbols and arguing against the contradictionsevidenced by institutionalprac- tices that deviate from doctrinalethics of equality. prochange Catholics' sense of Catholicism is groundedin the view that interpretiveauthorityis diffuse. Contraryto the interpretivemonopoly assumed by the Vatican. THE MALLEABILITYOF DOCTRINALSYMBOLS For participantsin Dignity/Boston.but is dispersed. prochangeCatholics are able to produce relatively autonomousinterpretationsof Catholicism that make sense in light of their diverse experiences. In this process.Aware. In this more democratic understanding.HABERMASAND RELIGION 297 within to achieve change. are not in good standingwith the official church. This enables prochangeCatholics to challenge both the structuraland the substan- tive bases of what the Vaticanpresentsas authoritativeteaching. partici- pants use various strategiesto demonstratetheir "ownership"of the Mass and the vibrancy of their Catholic identity. including their experiences of Catholicism. Notwithstandingthe fact that the Catholic Churchis a hierar- chical institution. But while they stay within the Catholictraditionthese prochange Catholics reinterpretits doctrinal resources in ways that enable them to demonstratethe validity of their Catholicism. as also recognized by Vatican II. In fact. they make doctrine a site of "contestedknowledge" (see Seidman 1994). INTERPRETIVEAUTHORITY Prochange Catholics continue to find meaning in Catholicism not because they are spell- bound by some sacred authority but because they engage in an authoritativedoctrinal critique of the tradition. Dignity participantsuse their collective responsibility for the liturgy to critiquethe meanings encoded in the official liturgy and to reworkthem in ways that maintain integrity with the Catholic tradition. There are multiple sites of doctrinalproductionand multiple microproducers. and to presentdoctrinally groundedargumentsto supporttheir counterclaims. the church hierarchyis not. they demonstratethe diverse interpretivepossibilities that may be injected into some of the core. ensuringthatwhatevernew interpretationsthey devise fit with their inscribedunder- standing of the "truths"of Catholicism. on account of their noncelibate lifestyles. On most occasions.and who. that doctrine and institutional practices are mutable. it holds its weekly Mass in a Protestantchurchin downtown Boston. taken-for-grantedaspects of Catholicism. the Mass is celebratedby one of a numberof gay priests who are members of the chapter. its participants are committed to maintaining and living out their Catholicism. it is their lived knowledge of Catholicism. They do so by engaging in a reflexive critique of Catholi- cism. seen in the everyday interpretiveactiv- ities of ordinaryCatholics.

therewere different levels of trustand coming out. One priest in particularmakes a point of stressing the "worthiness"of participantsto receive communion... the Apostles spent time with him. A female participantin Dignity/Boston who gave the homily on Pentecost Sunday (commemoratingthe descent of the Holy Spirit to the Apos- tles fearfully locked in a room as they await Christ'sreturnto earth)..." it is clear that they are not claiming a superiority over their coreligionists.I felt trapped in the darknessof my closet. other prayerspoint to the "normalcy"of the people presentin the sense that they are similar to what might be heard during the spontaneous prayer segment at any Catholic Mass. As I look at my life. I would read as much as I could about Jesus. As I began to strugglewith my own sexuality. It wasn't until the Holy Spirit entered the Apostles that they had the words to speak and the courage to come out. As a young child and teenager I always felt different and as if I didn't fit in anywhere.298 SOCIOLOGICALTHEORY icism and their gay or lesbian identity. At one Mass. The message of Jesus was acceptance and love. I can see where the Spiritworked to give me hope." ratherthan using the recommended official church prayers. I thought of my own struggle to come out. This was only the beginning.not understand- ing fully Jesus's message... and for people to have courage to come out. I reflected on the relationshipbetween my personalcloset and the room where the Apostles hid. Dignity's "I am worthy" may be seen as an affirmationof the reverse side of the doctrine of original sin (salvation) and not as the negation of original sin." Accordingly. My coming out came when I truly trusted the Spirit within me. but only say the word and I shall be healed. As in my own life this was a safe place to be.. yet I was taught growing up that what I felt was bad. but are using the liturgy to affirm the Catholic theological emphasis on the redemptivepresence of a loving God in their lives.are invoked that refer to the "different"identity of the gatheredcommunity. one personprayedfor a sick mother. I lived in fear. I loved to hear of Jesus's compassion and love. a man who said that his son and daughter-in-lawwere expecting their second baby prayed that he would be a good grandfather. I trustedJesus and yet I felt alone. Dignity's masses frequentlyinvolve theirown members(ratherthanthe presidingpriest) as homilists during Mass."and the generativevalues embodied in committed gay relation- ships are affirmedduring sermons. At the same time. . Dignity participantsstate "LordI am worthy to receive you.Such prayers are frequently offered for same-sex couples who are in committed relationships. "Prayers of the faithful. She stated: "As I reflected on Pentecost and who the Holy Spirit is in my life. At the beginning of my coming out to myself." When.anotherfor someone who had died of AIDS. The 3The Catechism of the Catholic Church (1994:87) states. They hid in the room so as not to be found and hurt or killed.This emphasis contrastswith the reg- ularMass liturgy (and the broaderCatholic penitentialtradition)wherein people acknowl- edge the unworthinessconferredby original sin by communally stating aloud: "LordI am not worthy to receive you. "The doctrine of original sin is.. the 'reverse side' of the Good News that Jesus is the Savior of all. instead. illustratedthis inter- linking of scripturewith the challenges associated with coming out... so to speak. They accomplish this by creatively working with the traditionalMass liturgy to make it gay-inclusive.. who use the opportunityto connect scripturalreadings to their experiences of being gay or lesbian. for example.. They learnedof his love. For me as for the Apostles. They lived in fear not knowing why they trusted.3 Similarly. Yet something deep inside me kept me going. for people who are homophobic. During Jesus's life. After Jesus's death the Apostles lived in fear. not normal. Only then could I speak the words and come out of my own personal closet. Presiding priests make subtle references throughoutthe Mass to "Christ'sgay and les- bian brothersand sisters.

As Catholics who choose to stay within the church. When the Apostles received the Spirit they could come out of their room without fear .Catholics who advocate women's ordination explicitly ground their prochange claims within Catholic doctrinalreasoning. Just as Dignity/Boston affirms the compatibility of Catholicism and a gay/lesbian sexuality throughits communal enactmentof a reinterpretedMass liturgy.. . 18 percent emphasized issues of institutional credibility for a church grounded in Christ but which discriminates. relationships. in their case.4 Whereas official church argumentsdefend the exclusivity of a male-only priesthood by pointing to the single act of Jesus in choosing only men as apostles.. all people need to be afforded the opportunityto follow their calling. 36 percentdrew on VaticanII concepts such as universalityor baptismal equality. As expressed by these WOC respondents: "Basically I experience Jesus in the New Testament as being with the causes- standing with all who are on the journey for truth. is demarcatedas a special Sun- day in October to encourage gay and lesbian Catholics to come out and to affirm the coming-out decisions of others.They take core symbols and ideas in Catholicism and use them to arguefor differentinterpretationsto those presented in official church teaching. in additionto the Christologicalemphasis. Like their peers in Dignity.Coming-out Sunday.and 23 percent emphasized the sacramentalimplications of a shortage of priests.HABERMASAND RELIGION 299 Spirithas given me the courage to come out and to risk being ridiculed and possibly abandoned..I believe in equality and justice and I hope for the dawning of the day when both women and marriedpriests expe- rience fullness within Catholicism." As this homily highlights.. Another way in which Dignity members affirm the interconnection between faith and sexuality is through the liturgical celebration of same-sex couple relationshipsat special commitmentceremonies. being a Catholic means to participatein the church established by Jesus.But we wouldn't be here if the Spirit wasn't working within us. For example.. narrativeaccounts of Christ's life lead to an alternativetheological interpretation that illuminates an inclusive ratherthan a discriminatoryJesus..To deny thatdignity to half of humankinddoes not fulfill the example set by Jesus to be Catholic.In their use of doctrine. Jesus always seemed to espouse the dignity of humankind... Dignity participantsdo not compartmentalizeeither their faith or their sexuality. Our stories are all quite different. members of the Women's OrdinationConference (WOC) assume the authorityto reinterpretCatholic the- ology rather than abandoning it as hopelessly patriarchal. WOC respondents focus on the social dimensions and relational meanings of Christ's life as a whole. they too accept a Christocentric paradigmand.faith) of participants'lives." "To me.for example. use it to argue for a changed understandingof priesthood.To realize thatdignity. 18 percentreferredto the examples offered by women in scriptureand in the early church.g. work. Several respondentsthus linked their prochangeaims to the activism personifiedby Christon behalf of equality and justice. anotherspecial event for the community is Pride Sunday.. to utilize their individualgifts and talents given to them by theircreator. but see both as mutually central to their everyday experiences." 4 Sixty-five percent of WOC respondentsexplicitly invoked Christ-relatedthemes in discussing their views on women's ordination. WOC respondents invoked multiple subthemes. and throughthe integrationof gay and lesbian festival days into the liturgicalcalendar. For them. which Dignity celebrates with a special Mass that pays particularattentionto the communalimportance of gay pride and the strength that it can provide to integratingother aspects (e. coinciding with the culmination of the annual national Gay Pride Week..

These respondentspointed to the symbolic-theological implications that flow from the church hierarchy'sexclusion of women from the sacra- mental imaging of Christ.These respondentsemphasizedhow churchpracticesdeviate from the redemptivenarrativeof Christ's life and the doctrinalvalues central to the church'siden- tity. It is a denial of redemption. the IncarnateOne. I need the church to show the way to live justly.Either Jesus is savior of all or what we believe is false.As interpretedby these respondents. they challenged the distinctiveness of his maleness and the iconic significance attachedto this in official church statements. even-handedness-all are values that the Catholic Churchhas and does espouse." Many other respondentssimilarly invoked scripturalreferences to equality and/or to Vat- ican II's emphases on baptismalequality and the churchas the People of God. and person-enhancing. Highlighting the universalism of Christ's humanity.Preachingequal- ity and practicing it in actuality must go together."Other WOC respondents argued: "If Christianityteaches that all are redeemedin Jesus Christthen it is a contradiction to exclude women in the full ministry. The ordinationof women will demonstratethe uni- versality of God's call. INSTITUTIONALDISTORTIONS The institutionalcontradictionsof a churchthat espouses equality but reproducesinequal- ity in its own internalpractices was a dominanttheme in prochangeCatholics' critiqueof the church.The more complete image of Jesus. humane. will be made manifest when women assume the overt and visible role of priest/shepherd. These are good maturevalues-human. to arguefor women's ordination. One young woman who is a pastoral counselor stated: "If the most importantthing about Christis maleness.Many WOC respondents(18 percent)explicitly framedwomen's ordinationas an issue of institutional credibility for a church grounded in Christ-embodiedethics of justice and equality.some WOC respondents emphasized the humanity of Christ. are women saved? The Vatican'sChristol- ogy is warmed-over misogynistic-androcentricdaydreaming.300 SOCIOLOGICALTHEORY "If we take to heart Jesus' words about equality. given by God to be used for the good of all. fairness. we must be willing to look at institutionsand our individual lives and be willing to live accordingly [emphasis in original]. I wish it would begin with following more closely the message of Jesus." "The universalityof Catholicismmust reflect the universalityof gifts." ." OtherWOC respondentsvariously echoed this: "Catholicismis importantto me because it has provided the frameworkin which I could exercise my belief in God and in the life and work of Jesus. or else it's just words [emphasis in original]. without distinction or human-orderedrestrictions.gender-basedboundariesof exclusion." Stressing a differentdimension of the Christologicalnarrative.a church that claims to be uni- versal and inclusive of all humanityunderminesits foundationalethics by institutionaliz- ing what respondentsregardas arbitrary. One middle-aged man summarizedthe views of many of his WOC peers: "Equality.

Eventually. dominationof any one.And the people in chargewill do anythingto preservetheirpower. the real church will win. And the people of the churchwill no longer tolerate having a small group of men validate and invalidate their lives. The hierarchyhas become an organismmore concernedwith self-presentationand self-perpetuationthan with the growth and healthy development of the people it serves.we can't do it. The vision of VaticanII has yet to be realized because churchleaders are too fearful of the unknownand of letting go of the past. I feel that the ordinationof women is a justice issue and thereforethe Catholic Churchshould act justly andordainwomen.however. it isn't now.Patri- archy. philosophical or theological ques- tions concerningproof of the divinity of Jesus are unproblematic.I believe that goes against the innate natureof the churchandthe reality of the Gospel. As each of these issues is attackedit puts chinks in the armor for all of them. If Jesus did select only men for ordination." "I don't believe we can say one thing or have a vision of reachingout to embraceall.HABERMASAND RELIGION 301 "I feel that the Catholic Church should be a leader in justice issues. yet put up boundaries or limitations on people and how they minister within the community. as with WOC. as for many others. I thinkwomen arediscriminatedagainstin this issue despite the fact that the church says that this is not discrimination.peace.In particular. the doctrinalethics of equality andjustice are core to Catholicism and as such are seen by them as imperatives that should be realized in church practices." "Wehave to accord human rights and equality to all if we are truly Christian." Such quotations illustrate that Dignity participantscritique the church hierarchy by mapping out what they perceive as its failure to focus on the "essentials" of Catholic doctrine. discriminationof all kinds are all irreconcilablewith Christianity. and social justice. The real church is the people.it was because it was the norm for the times. Dignity participantsthus remain committed to the paradigmof an exemplary. their critical disposition is similarly derived from members' lived knowledge of the Catholic tradition. gender.they accept this on faith . the vast majority (91 percent) of Dignity participantssaw official church teaching on homosexuality not as an isolated issue but as part of a largerproblem related to the Vatican's stance on sexuality in general and its use of power. One man in his early fifties stated: "The church is still focusing too much on sexuality and too little on com- mitmentto Christ.religion and international power. For these Catholics.For them.gay andlesbian Catholics see the church hierarchy'steachings as a deviation from the justice ethics they identify with Christ'slife." Dignity participantssimilarly focused on the inconsistencies in official churchteaching and." Another man argued: "The institutionalchurch is based on an ancient sexist hierarchy. The issue of GLBTs [gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgendered people]."It was the view of a man in his early thirties that:"The church'sactions on gay issues arepart and parcel of its currentand historical roles in issues of race. inclusive Jesus.If Catholics are truly followers of Christ. They all are examples of the power these elitist men have over millions of people. As Catholics.I can't believe that Jesus would discriminate in this way. women in the priesthood. For example.and birthcontrol are all linked.

Wuthnow 1994a:17) extends to how people reason when the egalitarian offensive is directed against institutional practices groundedin religious doctrine. For respondents in this study.On the contrary. Participationin a religious traditiondoes not mean that believers see all aspects of that traditionas being beyond meaningful self-criticism. AlthoughHabermas(1992:233) arguesthatself-criticaldoctrinalreasoninggoes beyond religion into a sphere of critical discourse whereby it loses its theological distinctiveness. and paradigms. tradition. respondents'critiques of church teaching and practices are firmly groundedin theology. religion. Dignity members are thus empowered to argue for and enact the "right"and "duty"of gay and lesbian Catholics "to live the sacramentallife of the church"5notwithstandingthe contraryposition pronouncedin official churchteaching. We have an inherent dignity because God createdus.. and bisexual Catho- lics are members of Christ's mystical body. But this faith does not extend to an all-encompassingenchantmentwith every strandin the Catholictradition." 6To quote Schussler Fiorenza: "Integrityis narrowerand stricter than coherence or consistency. and the Holy Spirit sanctified us in Baptism makingus Temples of the Holy Spirit. their commitmentto what they experienceas the "essential"meaningsof Catholicismprovidesthemwithlsymbolicresources to which they apply their interpretiveautonomy in a doctrinally reflexive manner. 1985). faith is open to a self-critical rationality and is not associated solely with a pre-Enlightenmentinterpretivemonopoly (see Haber- mas 1989:36). face squarely all the challenges to the tradition. and channels through which God's love might become visible. By the same token.principles.. numberedamong the People of God. or expansion is requiredin the face of inconsistencies and conflicts. It is evident that for those who are part of a shared"com- munity of discourse" (F.6The institutionaltransformation advocatedby respondentsis thus expressed using the "firstlanguage"of the churchitself. Respondents' participationin the Catholic tradition and their lived experience of its "highertruths"gives them a doctrinallyinformed authorityto con- test the church hierarchy'steachings.. The paradigms(e. .. include neglected and excluded voices. and take honestly and seriously changes in backgroundassumptions"(1991:138). or "communityof memory"(Bellah et al. Integrityrequires that one set priorities when there are conflicts and inconsis- tencies within the tradition. Christdied for us. lesbian. As a result of their doctrinal inquiry.g.The respondents'reflexive use of doctrine in their push to eliminate inequality in the church illustratesthat people can and do use religion in a critically reasoned manner.. It concerns priorities. We believe that gay men and women can express their sexuality in a mannerthat is consonant with Christ's teaching. The illustrative findings presented here demonstratethat religion's critique of public values and secular institutions (see Casanova 1994. 397).g. "universality")thatprochangeCatholics use to 5Dignity/USA's Statementof Position and Purpose states: "Webelieve that gay.302 SOCIOLOGICALTHEORY and are not botheredby whether or not it is rationally defensible. rather than demanding "a turning away from knowledge" and the "sacrificeof the intellect" (Weber 1978:567).. Schussler Fiorenza 1991. The respondents'argumentsintegrate"the event of revelation"(Habermas 1992:233) and use meanings derivedfrom it to justify change. provides the dominant"knowledge"groundingtheir drive to transformthe church. To inquireabout the integrity of a belief. religion provides the language with which to contest doc- trinal issues.Dignity participantsquerythe doctrinalreasonablenessand theological integ- rity of argumentsthat present gay and lesbian Catholics as inauthentic Catholics.or practice is to ask not how these cohere or correlatewith one anotherbut what critique. Wuthnow 1989)..Contraryto Habermas'sunderstanding(see 1984:21-22. they arguefor "integrity"between Catholic doctrinalethics and the church's institutionalpractices. Jesus) and ideas (e. DOCTRINALREFLEXIVITY Dignity participants' disposition toward Catholic liturgy and WOC respondents' argu- ments in favor of women's ordinationdemonstratea reflexive engagement with Catholi- cism thatboth groundstheir authorityto contest doctrineand empowers them to challenge official church practices.change..

the doctrinalcounterclaimsput forwardby prochange Catholics are changing the discourses of Catholicism and doing so in a doctrinallyreflex- ive way thatmay illuminatethe opportunitiesfor futuredoctrinaland institutionalchange. less democratic forms of authority. What it does do.Accordingly. History.The autonomousdoctrinalinterpretationsof Dig- nity and WOC Catholics highlight the relative diffuseness of interpretiveactivity that in my reading is central to Habermas'stheory of communicative action. by the ways in which cultural redefinitions significantly reconstitute"new possibilities for collective action.and the use of language mean that an "ideal speech situation" will always be contaminatedby power inequalities (e. Young 1996). vocabulary. through"customarymanners of speaking" (Wuthnow 1992:50). therefore. Since communica- tively achieved agreementis a cooperative process of reciprocalcritique. they are still never- theless important. Gould 1996. The articulation of doctrine.Although discursive challenges may not necessarily lead to formal institutionalchanges. Criticsof Habermas'saccent on the emancipatorypotentialof the practicaluse of language tend to counter that differences among people in social experiences.theological assumptions. as William Sewell (1990:541) remindsus. It may emerge from engagement in doctrinalcritique. Yet it is also true that depending on the specific institutionalcontext in which ideolog- ical contestationtakes place.HABERMASAND RELIGION 303 supporttheir participativeagenda not only come from within the church'sdoctrinaltradi- tion but are central to it. their use of doctrine-the church'sown language-allows them to challenge official church arguments in a way that lessens the power of the church hierarchyto make its interpretationsthe only legitimate interpretationspossible. is open up doctrinal knowledge to the whole Catholic community and detach it from the privileged domain of the churchhierarchy. because they can both reinforceand upset beliefs" (1996:35). however. or sacred office.g.that both the contested definition of the situ- ation and the counterposed claims cannot be reasonably defended. Mansbridge 1993..in part. whether by church officials or nonordained Catholics." THE DEMOCRATIZINGPOTENTIALOF REASON Although my researchfindings take issue with Habermas'snegation of the possibility of a critical religious discourse. In par- ticular. cannot sustainan interpretivemonopoly.neither the church hierarchynor this study's prochange Catholics have a monopoly on doctrinal "truth. the data strongly support Habermas'sfaith in reason. makingreason the arbiterof competing claims can reducethe overarchinghold of other. The stance taken by prochangeCatholics in makingreason the arbiterof conflicting doctrinalclaims thus does not guaranteethat their alternativeinterpretationsare right. there can be no one fixed source but only multiple and shifting sites of interpretation. ratherthanon the authorityof the churchhierarchyand its invocation of the rule of tradition. They contest "core" teachings using doctrine to critique the doctrineoffered by the churchhierarchyto justify its interpretations. therefore.As seen in the case of the Catholics discussed here. and institutional power relations informing official churchteaching and to consider the alternativereasons that prochangeCatholics (and others) offer.dogma. This exercise necessarily invites all Catholics . involves the contextualized interpretationof religious symbols and ideas and.the findings illuminatehow Habermas'sview of reason as the basis for communi- cative actionhas an egalitarianchargethatis frequentlyoverlookedin criticismsof Habermas. The resort to doctrinalreasoningrecentersinterpretivejudgmenton the "reasonableness"of the argu- ments offered.Since religion is institutionalizedin part. is shaped. This point is well taken.It challenges the churchhierarchyand all Cath- olics to examine the historical underpinnings." Habermas notes that the rationality of reasons "makes them double-edged from the word go.

whether conducted within the institu- tional confines of a specific religious tradition or whether conducted in more broadly accessible societal forums (e. These conversations are in principle accessible to anyone irrespective of faith who wants to participate.The goal is not to prove or disprove redemptive beliefs. and Steven Tipton. 1966. Peter. Critical Social Theory: Culture. contains distinctly Americancul- turalideas that can be used and critiquedby those who are not American. 1992. He argues that engagement with religious symbols and narrativesis not just for religious believers. 1995. prochangeCatholics vindicate Habermas'semphasis on reason's emancipatorypotential. or in academic and political settings). they can also become "testimoniesto possibility" and of "resis- tance and hope" for nonbelieving interpreters(1987:88). People deliberateaboutthe practicalimplications of assigning particular meanings to various religious symbols and traditions. The Documents of VaticanII. They use doctrinalreasoning to argue against the impedimentsto participativeequality in the church.symbols are too rich and multilayeredto be monopolized by any one inter- pretive community. Although the meanings derived will. The illustrativedata presentedhere show thatdoctrinalquestions can form the basis for public conversationsin which "meanings"as opposed to "facts"are contested (see Gould- ner 1976:93-96). 1973. The Homeless Mind. Tracy'semphasis on a public theology is challenged by other theologians. Public Religions in the Modern World. New York:Herderand Herder.g. In the same way that the Declarationof Independence. vary depending on the context of their interpretation. Christianity. I am endorsing Tracy's emphasis on "theology as public discourse"(1981:28-31). .304 SOCIOLOGICAL THEORY as "audience"to the institutionaldebateto participatein the communaldeliberation.William Sullivan. and the Challenge of Difference. Jose.Translatedby Mark Ritter. and in doing so. Cambridge. who arguesthatreligion as a culturalsystem is accessible only to those within a specific religious discursive community. John. . Calhoun. Robert.and in the process may illuminate how the practical implementationof the ethics of equality and participationcan be advancedby their anchoringin a reflexive religious discourse. Habits of the Heart: Individualismand Commitmentin American Life.which in itself contributesto strengtheningCatholics' participativeequality in the church.Social Tolerance.History.specific religious symbols and ideas can also be engaged by nonparticipantsin the host faith tradition. By thus opening up and reflexively critiquing the doctrinal reasons used to justify official churchteaching.and they are conducted in public. therefore. "conquernew territory"(Habermas 1987:393) in which theological validation is given to a multiplicity of Catholic identities and interpretivepositions.London: Sage.: Blackwell. as "classic" cultural texts.7Doctrinal debate.Chicago: University of Chicago Press. and HansfriedKellner.. 1985. Ulrich. 1994. Same-Sex Unions in PremodernEurope.As such they expandthe official boundariesof Catholicism to make the church more pluralisticand inclusive in practice. Craig. Bellah. Beck. Doctrinal reasoning can be critically used to inquire into a tradition. but to unpack how specific doctrinaltenets might be given practical interpretationin currenttimes. of course. 1980. REFERENCES Abbott. Mass. Brigitte Berger. Rather than resisting or withdrawingfrom the Catholic com- munal tradition. these Catholics use doctrinal reasoning to call for a revaluation of the interpretivedifferences within the tradition. Boswell. most notably Lindbeck (1984). Risk Society: Towarda New Modernity. can contributeto the vibrancy of the public sphere.and Homosexuality.). Walter(ed.Ann Swidler. 1994. Casanova. New York:Penguin.Chicago: University of Chicago Press. public debates carriedon throughnewspapers or televi- sion.RichardMadsen. theological ideas are not the monopoly of any one faith traditionbut are accessible to public discussion by believers and nonbelievers alike (Tracy 1981:28-31). Berkeley: University of CaliforniaPress. New York:VillardBooks. Berger. 7In arguing for the public accessibility of doctrinal ideas.for example. In this view.

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