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Logos: A Journal of Catholic Thought and Culture 3.4 (2000) 5-8
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This issue of Logos, our first since the Vatican's publication of "Dominus Iesus: On the Unicity and Salvific Universality of Jesus Christ and the Church," offers an opportunity to reflect on our own commitment to diversity. Though we cannot in a preface to a single issue say all that might be said, we can invite our readers to consider whether we are on the right track as we ponder the problems of our times and the current teachings of the Church.
We begin the issue with essays by Michael J. Baxter, C.S.C., David Schindler, David Hollenbach, S.J., and Michael Novak, presented earlier this year as part of the Fourth Annual Cardinal Bernardin Conference, and an essay by Philip Gleason providing a historical perspective for the other reflections. As Sister Catherine Patten notes in her introduction to these five pieces, Cardinal Bernardin's Catholic Common Ground Initiative was intended to "reconstitute the conditions for addressing our differences constructively." The annual conferences allow Catholics with conflicting views on an issue to talk together. This year the role of Catholics in the public arena and the opportunities for evangelization in the United States were the topics of discussion.
The range of diversity broadens dramatically with our next essay, in which two Cuban economists, Vilma Hidalgo and Milagros Martinez, address the question: "Is the U.S. Economic Embargo on Cuba Morally Defensible?" Perhaps the convergence between the [End Page 5] answer the Pope has given to this question and the answer defended by Hidalgo and Martinez signals common ground for discussion of differences.
Three philosophical pieces follow. John F. X. Knasas asks "Whither the Neo-Thomist Revival?" His verdict is that historically neo-Thomism is dead and gone, but philosophically it is alive and well. And perhaps, he suggests, a historical revival is possible. John Haldane surveys "Thomistic Ethics in America," relating the project of developing a theory of value and conduct to the present state of American culture. He argues that moral thinking in American public life and culture can be advanced by showing how ethical claims are grounded in commonly known facts about human nature. Russell Pannier's analysis of "Aquinas on the Ultimate End of Human Existence," which draws on some of the same resources Knasas and Haldane discuss, clarifies Aquinas's notion that the ultimate end of human existence is a unified end. As philosophers will immediately recognize, though the questions these three men address overlap, and though their answers are complementary, the answers have been shaped by diverse methodological approaches.
In "Thomas Merton's Vision of the Kingdom," Patrick F. O'Connell reflects on the mysterious unifying symbol of the kingdom of God. One who has faith in Christ identifies with Christ, and acts "as a member of His Body and a faithful citizen of His Kingdom." Our public duties as citizens of a nation, and citizens of the wider, more diverse world, are ultimately shaped by the fact we are destined for God, and are citizens of the Kingdom. We are diverse members of a unified body.
Why do we value diversity?
Catholics who profess that Christ is the universal redeemer and that the Church of Christ subsists in the Catholic Church (dogmas re-articulated in Dominus Iesus) are of course sometimes accused of [End Page 6] antiecumenism, of unreasonable resistance to diversity. They are accused of an arrogant faith.
What is faith? Faith is assent that goes beyond the evidence. And why would a good God require such a strange thing from us? Don't we violate the epistemic rules if we consciously maintain beliefs that go further than the evidence? Why didn't God give us better grounds for belief, revealing himself more fully so that assent beyond the evidence would be unnecessary?
Perhaps one reason is that faith in God enhances our love for God: belief in a person that goes beyond the evidence requires trust, and trust develops love. Friends, spouses, parents, and children trust one another, and...