Theological Studies 69 (2008


WHERE IS THE CHURCH? GLOBALIZATION AND CATHOLICITY VINCENT J. MILLER Theological considerations of the cultural effects of globalization have focused largely on homogenization: the erosion of local cultures by some dominant globalizing culture. This article considers three contrasting analyses. Globalization also fosters cultural fragmentation and purification, the abstraction of culture and social space from geographical space, and a reduction of culture to identity. These additional challenges are evaluated from the perspective of the mark of catholicity, which is proposed as a theological resource for an ecclesial response to the challenges of globalization. that globalization poses a pressing challenge to the church, but what is the nature of this challenge? Different analyses engender varied diagnoses of globalization’s problems, which in turn suggest different prescriptions for how best to respond. This article explores the consequences that different understandings of the cultural effects of globalization have for theological reflection and ecclesial response. Theological reflection on the cultural effects of globalization has long emphasized homogenization: globalization erodes local cultures, replacing them with either some version of Western culture or a global consumer culture. Sociologists and anthropologists, however, have long noted an opposing dynamic: heterogenization. The same economic and technological forces that make globalization possible also encourage people to think of themselves as members of distinct cultures and to join together in ever purer, smaller cultural units. Globalization reifies difference as much as it homogenizes it. A third cultural dynamism is intertwined with these two: deterritorialization. Mediated culture, easy travel and migration, and choice of community unbind culture from geographical space. Deterritorialization intensifies heterogenization. These two dynamisms combine to give rise to a



VINCENT J. MILLER received his Ph.D. from the University of Notre Dame and is now associate professor of theology at Georgetown University. He is grateful to the Louisville Institute for funding the research for this article. His Consuming Religion: Christian Faith and Practice in a Consumer Culture (2004) became the subject of a symposium whose proceedings were published in Zeitschrift für Theologie in Europa (2006, vol. 1). Projected is a book on theology and the cultural effects of globalization.
412 (accessed Sept 10, 2013)



certain “cultural ecology” which fosters communities that focus on their own identities. Religious communities are diminished as they ignore elements of their traditions that ground a complex form of life in favor of those that project a clear identity. These three cultural dynamisms pose profound challenges. The mark of catholicity provides both a measure of these challenges and a resource for addressing them. The challenges of homogenization are well recognized. The erosion of local cultures impoverishes communities, reducing persons to individual consumers bereft of traditional wisdom. Religiously, it fosters a generic, individualistic spirituality. Heterogenization, on the other hand, threatens that global intimacy will bring not communion, but polarization and division. Heterogenization fosters a cultural ecology where communities close in on themselves, becoming ever-purer enclaves of the similar, threatening catholicity on both the global and the local level. Finally, deterritorialization threatens to sunder the church from its mission as a transformative sacrament of God’s salvation, engaging the goodness and suffering of the world, reducing church instead to a sectarian community policing its identity. This article proceeds in three stages. First, it considers the homogenization analysis and its theological and ecclesial reception. Second, it augments this analysis with a consideration of heterogenization and deterritorialization. Finally, it employs the mark of catholicity to measure globalization’s challenges to the church and as a resource for responding to them. GLOBALIZATION AS HOMOGENIZATION Homogenization is the most popularly understood of globalization’s cultural impacts. It describes globalization as the imposition of a single culture—whether a continuation of European colonialism or the reduction of the global diversity of cultures into one generic, consumerist conglomerate. A review of titles reveals as much: Jihad vs. McWorld, The McDonaldization of Society, The Westernization of the World. Discussions of globalization and culture abound with terms that express homogenization, such as “coca-colonization,” “Americanization,” and “global hyperculture.”1 Unlike European colonialism, however, which actively sought political control through cultural disempowerment, today’s cultural imperialism is the side effect of global marketing and new communication technologies, which spread American culture through goods, practices, and marketing. “Hege-

1 John Tomlinson, Globalization and Culture (Chicago: University of Chicago, 1999) 84–105; Robert J. Schreiter, The New Catholicity: Theology between the Global and the Local (Maryknoll, N.Y.: Orbis, 1997) 10.

ed. In the West. 2 . and overly accommodating practices of interreligious dialogue. “The Utopia of the Human Family: Among the Religions of Humanity. the ongoing processes of secularization and reli- Tamar Leibes and Elihu Katz. ideologies. Michael Amalados describes the dominant form of globalization as the spread of “a particular culture or country or ideology or economic system. Across geography. The destruction it wrought continues long after political independence is won. among them Black and Latina/Latino theologies and varieties of Christian feminism.”2 Similar analyses appear among theologians. 1993) xi. critical. and pluralist tendencies in academic theology by esthetic. critical perspectives.” in ibid. When globalization is conceived in terms of homogenization. and purification seem fitting responses.”4 Treatments follow from diagnoses. Jon Sobrino and Felix Winfred. postliberal. 67–74. Western colonialism did enormous violence to other cultures.414 THEOLOGICAL STUDIES mony is prepackaged in Los Angeles. Such globalization aims at the subordination. other modern master narratives. of the other cultures. at 81. The Export of Meaning: Cross-Cultural Readings of Dallas (New York: Oxford University. “Africa: Globalization and the Loss of Cultural Identity. 3 Michel Amaladoss. shipped out to the global village. culture.” in Globalization and Its Victims. Concilium 293/5 (London: SCM. We are decades into a sustained reaction to liberal. Globalization and Culture 84. 2001) 81–88. these movements have a striking similarity. There is much that is valuable in these approaches. protection. and unwrapped in innocent minds. closure. at 67. 4 Teresa Okure. cited in Tomlinson. and ideological orientation we witness the same concern for preserving cultural particularity. Her question helpfully contextualizes theological movements in Europe and North America that are also concerned with cultural erosion and the preservation of particularity. To this list we could add a curious set of fellow travelers— various forms of identity-based and subaltern theologies. if not disappearance. strategies of defense.”3 Teresa Okure sees in globalization “the destruction of the cultures of those places to which the globalized culture spreads. and radical orthodox theologies. etc. These emphasize the particularities of the Christian tradition over against secular Enlightenment reason. it spreads a global “hyperculture” that is no less destructive in both the global West and South. Religious responses focus on inculturation in order to undo the destructive legacies of colonialism to indigenous cultures and to ground robust contemporary local forms of Christianity. Although globalized capitalism works through different processes toward different ends. Okure also wonders about the impact individualization and consumerism have on Western cultural traditions. Beneath their clear normative differences.

Calif. and Roland Roberston (Thousand Oaks. Roland Robertson. 1995) 25–44. 6 5 . The culture within which we relate to one another (including religious culture) is unbound from geographical space—deterritorialized—with profound consequences for the ability of the church to be present anywhere. intentional efforts to preserve and hand them on. THE HETEROGENIZING AND DETERRITORIALIZING EFFECTS OF GLOBALIZATION Although the homogenization thesis has dominated theological interpretations of globalization. sociology and anthropology have long noted a contravening cultural dynamic. To respond to the challenges of the cultural effects of globalization fully. much needed. Arjun Appadurai provides evidence for this in opposition to facile descriptions of globalization as “Americanization.”6 No matter how grand the aims of global capitalism.”5 These technologies have another effect as well. Traditions are unlikely to survive as living realities without reflexive. This erosion fundamentally alters the social inertia hitherto lending continuity to a community’s traditions.” He points to Philippine enthusiasm for Kenny Rogers and the global reach of Coca Cola as examples. Heterogenization Heterogenization is primarily known in popular and academic literature by the term “glocalization. Globalization’s impact is complex and perhaps even contradictory.GLOBALIZATION AND CATHOLICITY 415 gious deregulation have offered a flood of cultural and religious options that erode the stability of cultural and religious traditions in a tide of liberating and individualizing choice. Programs of preserving particularity are. The consequences go beyond the virtual cultures of the Internet and global media. ed. The very technologies that make globalization possible also engender cultural differentiation. New Catholicity 25. therefore. we must consider these dynamics as well. Mike Featherstone.” in Global Modernities. They enable culture to float free of geographical space. globalization produces a cultural context marked by both “hybridity” and “hyperdifferentiation. it must contend with the local cultures that receive its products. What appear at first glance to be perfect examples of the dominance of Schreiter.: Sage. but such approaches alone are an incomplete response to globalization’s cultural effects because they are grounded in an analysis that does not attend to the full range of globalization’s effects. Scott Lash. In Robert Schreiter’s words. The interplay of these two dynamics tends to reduce culture and religion to sources of identity. “Glocalization: Time-Space and Homogeneity-Heterogeneity.

the modern nation-state’s project of subsuming regional identities into a larger geographical unit would not have been possible. Kenny Rogers enjoys more popularity abroad than at home. The cost of media has dropped so drastically that only miniscule audiences are required for media outlets to be successful.8 Appadurai offers another account of how globalization feeds the rise of smaller and purer cultural identities by building upon Benedict Anderson’s argument that the emergence of the nation-state depended on print media such as newspapers and novels that could sustain a national cultural identity. 175. Such changes are about much more than the emergence of websites for alternative music or amateur political commentary. Changes in media have long accompanied cultural transformations. . local cultures have already been constructed as species within a broader genus and thus were relativized in relationship to other cultures. or “imagined community. The technology that once allowed for the massive homogenization required for national-scale cultures now allows for the emergence of ever smaller and more refined cultural units. and economic structures compress time and space. Tomlinson. 1992) 27. Coke is mixed with indigenous ingredients to yield a drink that has much more to do with local identity than neocolonial cultural inferiority—the Cuba Libre. Both are “indigenized” in their reception and use.416 THEOLOGICAL STUDIES American culture. as the relationship between the printing press and the Reformation makes clear. on second glance become more complex. bringing all parts of the globe into relationship with the others. 1996) 29. O’G. The explosion 7 Arjun Appadurai. Modernity at Large: Cultural Dimensions of Globalization (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota. 9 Benedict R. Developments in transportation. communications technologies. Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism (London: Verso. Globalization and Culture 84. Long before fundamentalist reaction against the unwelcome encroachments of the broader world sets in. 97. Indeed. 1991).7 The global circulation of violent Hollywood films inspires not only respect for the American empire but also contributes to the imaginative resources of myriad militant groups that fight against it. 8 Roland Robertson. free Internet weblog—“blog”—sites have now reduced the cost to zero (on this side of the digital divide).”9 Without this. Globalization: Social Theory and Global Culture (London: Sage. But globalization does not encourage cultural particularity and heterogenization only because of the remnant ability of local cultures to function as market niches for capitalism. Anderson.

which leads to a homogenizing effect within communities. Patchwork Nation: Sectionalism and Political Change in American Politics (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan. media. Appadurai.S. 11 10 . Rather than challenging the heterogenizing tide rising in culture. The market niching of news and commercial culture separates the population into a nation of “red and blue” and thousands of other subcultures. Habits of the Heart: Individualism and Commitment in American Life (New York: Harper. neighborhoods increasingly reflect a concentration into enclaves of similar political and cultural values. 1985) 71–74. national policies. 41. Parishes cease to be places where people with different theological commitments worship together and interact. ethnicity. where it functioned as the system of shared assumptions. But these same dynamics are evident in local religious communities.”13 Culture is transformed as it is moves from the background. Deterritorialization The same technologies of communication and transportation that fuel the heterogenization of culture also break it loose from the moorings of geographic territory. and practices that grounded social relations. Robert N. Modernity at Large 33–34. This shift brings with it an epochal increase in personal freedom of choice.S. has now become a global force.12 The church has the potential to provide a place of deeper communion to bridge such divisiveness. forever slipping through the cracks between states and borders. culture. Schuknecht. Bellah et al.11 The demographics of U. The “lifestyle enclaves” based on consumption separated from politics and religion warned of by Bellah in the 1980s have grown to encompass increasingly public dimensions of community. People choose the community they attend. “because of the interplay of commerce. Gimpel and Jason E. and consumer fantasies. Appadurai notes that. into the foreground where it is made a matter of intentional choice.10 The growth of heterogeneous cultures is evident in contemporary U. The “automobile scale” of suburban life and the expectation of choice have transformed the Catholic parish from geographical to a congregational model. 13 Appadurai. churches unfortunately conform to it. 33. but equally significant erosions. symbols..GLOBALIZATION AND CATHOLICITY 417 of media and its resultant cultural agency give rise to myriad heterogeneous cultures. once a genie contained in the bottle of some sort of locality (however large). 12 James G. The result is an intentional or consumer (these are harder to distinguish than we would like) understanding of parishes. Modernity at Large 3. 2003). 10.

the transgression of subalterns on dominant culture—lose their traction. the government constructed the nation as the fundamental unit of social belonging and moral concern. While virulent nationalisms and ethnic identities flourish. & T. cease to correspond to a particular geographical space. many larger states that have embraced the limitations on economic sovereignty required by the global economy) no longer control their domestic economies.14 Microstates (and. What are the “local” political and community issues for such a congregation? Jose Casanova describes territory as analogous to history. 14 . With the decline of the nation-state. they lose their sense of responsibility for the territories they claim. and conflict. not in a congregational one. William Cavanaugh observes that the deterritorializing effects of globalization build upon the nation-state’s “project of subsuming the local under the universal. The Theopolitical Imagination (London: T. Political uses of culture—rallying around shared convictions. prophetic gestures. Prayers for the “shut-ins of our parish” make sense in a geographical model. Second. deliberation. With no shared terrain between distinct in-groups. Culture ceases to provide common assumptions that form the basis for judgment.”15 Clearly the centralized government of the nation-state usurped the power of a range of diverse local communal and political structures including the church. Just as history is the narrative imbuing of time Zygmunt Bauman. 1998) 64. Globalization: The Human Consequences (New York: Columbia University.418 THEOLOGICAL STUDIES Three erosions are particularly evident. culture loses its concern for and ties to specific territory. They are built on the only remaining leg of the traditional tripod of the sovereign nation-state—the identity function of nationhood. people lose the ability to conceive of the world as a place of specific moral responsibility. what is chosen is not assumed to be shared. one can offend but never challenge. as a result of their strictly voluntarist nature. which. we lose one of the larger-scale mappings of moral concern that we possess. for the business of running the laws and institutions necessary for the common good. The emergence of microstates serves as a surprising illustration of deterritorialized culture. however. Clark. policy decays into ideology. Society fragments into a host of smaller communal obligations. satire. 15 William T. Finally. such as controlling their economies and ensuring their own security. This ceding of control results in a decline in a political imagination for policy. Cavanaugh. First. To do so. when society is reduced to a conglomeration of individuals choosing among heterogeneous cultural associations. Zygmunt Bauman notes that they do not undertake the traditional tasks of larger states. 2002) 99. indeed.

” In conversations about the Catholic identity of institutions. Communities become ever more homogeneous. the title of a recent editorial: “Now. it seems. 19 Clifford Longley. This conflict of tasks manifested itself in a recent exchange between the leader of a conservative pressure-group focused on Catholic identity and a senior Catholic bioethicist.”19 This linguistic shift of the term is utterly predictable in a situation where religion is reduced to identity. 17 Danièle Hervieu-Léger. deterritorialized cultural ecology reinforces the sectarian impulse. trans. and Globalization.” Thus. deterritorialization threatens the church’s ability to be present in and to any particular place. “Now. using the complex professional 16 Jose Casanova. but for “sentiments. one frequently hears “catholicity” used as a less onerous adjective for “catholicness.16 Thus.: Rutgers University. 1993) 149–56. .” Tablet 260 (April 4. contraception has become the acid test of Catholicity. Whereas the very doctrine of catholicity would have once provided a theological mapping of the world that denied the possibility of not being implicated in the one church of Christ. An identity-focused. so territory is the rendering of space humanly significant. Identity When community drifts free from geographical place. whose greatest force is in their ability to ignite intimacy into a political state and turn locality into a staging ground for identity. the New Millennium.GLOBALIZATION AND CATHOLICITY 419 with meaning. “Religion. Simon Lee (New Brunswick. at 428. Catholicity is defined in terms of the contested issues that can be used to project a distinct identity. 18 Appadurai. 2006) 9.J. but within the bounds of small “elective fraternities” or focused movements. it seems. N. the term “catholicity” is now merely a label of shallow particularity.”18 An example can be found in a common linguistic slide of the word “catholicity. The activist had previously targeted the professor (a member of the Pontifical Academy of Life) as a “Professor of Death” who did not support John Paul II’s teaching on artificial hydration and nutrition.” Sociology of Religion 62 (2001) 415–41. Modernity at Large 41. The bioethicist responded. contraception has become the acid test of Catholicity. there is less need to engage recognized authorities or to undertake the rhetorical work of dialogue and argument with those who disagree. held together only by what they believe in common—negotiated not with a global ecumene of believers. Religion as a Chain of Memory.17 Communities are sustained by their ability to offer clear identities. Thus we turn to religious traditions not for their complex wisdom. This task of projecting an identity is as different from fidelity to tradition as today’s wedge-issue politics is from building a broad political coalition.

appear as overly rigorous hairsplitting at best. who prefer gurus to teachers. They therefore do not appeal to born-again Muslims. “Identity. Liberal thinkers do not meet the demands of the religious market.420 THEOLOGICAL STUDIES hermeneutics of his field—a style of language quite different from the activist’s heated press-release discourse. Scott Appleby.” for all the integrity evoked by its rhetorical use. and Reconciliation (Lanham. 22 R. 2008). Anthony Appiah expresses a hope that many theologians would readily embrace. is a very limited cultural practice. Scholars “wish to propound their academic theological learning. The exchange illustrated that the complexities and nuances that mark a lived tradition of moral reflection do not translate easily into the rhetorical needs of identity projection. consider that too much intellectualism spoils the faith. Religious communities cease to image the diverse 20 Kwame Anthony Appiah. forthcoming. Olivier Roy’s observations about the lack of hearing received by moderate Muslim voices are hauntingly relevant in a Catholic context. which is essential for practicing ethics in a Catholic healthcare setting. and seek a ready-made and easily accessible set of norms and values that might order their daily lives and define a practical and visible identity. Identity is not only too narrow a social function to support the richness of religious belief and practice. it shears off what does not serve its limited needs. The two were speaking different languages yoked to fundamentally different tasks. ed. 21 Olivier Roy. and World Politics. Globalization. This linguistic confusion poses a profound problem for the discipline of theology. and at worst as casuist sophistry for those seeking to establish a clear identity. Far from preserving the complex orthodoxy and orthopraxis of a tradition. Thomas Banchoff (New York: Oxford. In his discussion of cosmopolitanism. Violence.22 These other cultural effects of globalization present a range of urgent problems for the church. Globalized Islam: The Search for a New Ummah (New York: Columbia University. 2004) 31. The Ambivalence of the Sacred: Religion.20 But when identity is the fundamental religious and cultural practice. Attempts to plumb the significance of the clause “in principle” in John Paul’s allocution.”21 Our identity-focused ecology is almost identical to the conditions Scott Appleby describes for the emergence of ethnonationalist religious extremism. it also risks fueling conflict by depriving practitioners of the elements of their traditions with which they can resist religiously fueled conflict. which emerges in situations of high levels of religious commitment and low levels of religious literacy. . cosmopolitan traditions are suspect. He appeals to the cosmopolitan elements of religious traditions and to the learned figures who espouse them as the hope for countering the violent use of religions. Md.: Rowman & Littlefield. “What’s Special about Religious Disputes?” in Religious Pluralism. 2000).

GLOBALIZATION AND CATHOLICITY 421 unity of the Body of Christ and become instead enclaves of the likeminded. The mark of catholicity provides both measure and means for engaging these cultural dynamics: an ideal of unity as a harmony of difference that challenges the dominant sectarianism. Attention to patristic usage shows that the fullness denoted by katholou referred to the fullness of faith as much as to geographical uni23 Robertson. Believers lose the habits of cohabiting with people who are different from them. Catholicity informs the church’s graced successes and challenges it to a greater fullness. the church. At the same time as communities are fragmenting. If that is all we do. joined to the structures and practices of the church. as a global community with a global infrastructure of its own. They retreat into distinct identities that have less and less contact with anything beyond their borders. We face a new situation caused by changes in the structures of community. they are being lifted from rooted engagement with the world around them. dispersed monologues. The challenge facing the church is to preserve catholicity from dissipating into abstract. The ongoing argument of a living tradition fragments into myriad. The challenge is not simply to preserve particularity against erosion.23 By fostering relationships and exchanges not happening elsewhere. can foster a better form of globalization than the one promoted by the forces of advanced capitalism. The communication and rhetorical skills required to engage and convince others are lost. . Globalization 100. Catholicity can function as an example of what Roland Robertson terms “the particularization of the universal”—a particular cultural understanding of the global whole that guides action within it. we are simply swimming with the current of heterogenization by abetting the reduction of Christianity to a fractious collection of identity fronts. virtual enclaves. RESPONDING TO THE FULL RANGE OF THE CULTURAL EFFECTS OF GLOBALIZATION This three-part analysis of globalization calls for a different response than the homogenization account. Conceiving Catholicity Recent theological debates about catholicity centered around two issues. catholicity is a theological ideal. The first is the need to recover a qualitative conception of catholicity to correct Scholastic and Counter-Reformation emphasis on geographical breadth. and a call to the fullness of salvation that cannot settle for purity abstracted from concrete engagement with the world. As a mark of the church.

the pentecostal Church was already fully the Catholic Church of God. on the other hand. not in terms of the depth of its engagement with its culture. without intelligible content.” At worst such approaches view locality as matter in a more Neoplatonic sense: as an incorrigible confusion of the unity of the church. The church’s relationship to them is one of proclaiming the truth the cultures lack. are fundamentally fallen. 25 Joseph A. These two approaches to catholicity correlate with analogical and dialectical theological approaches. at 445. . The problems posed by globalization provide an illuminative evaluation of the strengths and weaknesses of different construals of this relationship. Tillard. When catholicity is subordinated to unity. Komonchak. It “is the entirety of the divine gifts rather than their extension that is essential. “The Local Church within Catholicity. but as its realization. Thus the local church is evaluated in terms of its unity and clarity of faith. If. See also Henri De Lubac. even when it was only the community in Jerusalem. Each offers a distinct mapping of space. 439. 24 .-R. like their members. Catholicism: The Corporate Destiny of Mankind (San Francisco: Ignatius. catholicity is understood in a more complementary sense as adding “dimensions of plurality and integration” to unity. 1988) 48–81 and passim.” Jurist 52 (1992) 416–47. This mapping of space sees unity as constantly under threat from its centrifugal dissemination in the cultural particularities of localities. Joseph Komonchak outlines two contrasting tendencies within theological reflection on the relationship between unity and catholicity. “The Local Church and the Church Catholic: The Contemporary Theological Problematic. 26 Ibid. “Locality can only be thought of as the ecclesiological equivalent of individuating matter in scholastic philosophy.26 Thus ecclesial space is mapped with a bright center where the fullness of revealed truth is embraced. that is . The periphery is the boundary (perhaps understood in cultural terms) where the clear distinction between light and darkness is always in danger of being blurred into a muted grey.422 THEOLOGICAL STUDIES versality. it is a paradigm of confrontation between grace and sin. A close identification of catholicity with unity appeals to the pessimism of Augustinian anthropology.-M. . Cultures. J. locality and the diversity of the world’s cultures are likely to be viewed at best as passive material to be transformed by being brought into conformity with a centrally mediated Christian truth. Thus.”24 The second focus of debate concerns the relationship of catholicity to the mark of unity.25 This conception of catholicity makes more sense of the concept as a distinct mark of the church in itself.” Jurist 52 (1992) 449. Theological considerations of catholicity are often implicitly or explicitly also debates about the mark of unity and the relationship between the two. then locality appears not as a threat to the unity of the church.

Lacking a complementary understanding of catholicity. it is inclined to protect a kernel of orthodoxy by disowning anything that threatens it with disorder. By construing locality as a threat to unity. it does not come from human effort alone. one that unwittingly reinforces the heterogenizing dynamics of globalization by rendering unity sectarian. These historical accidents of Catholic history have overlapped with the widespread detraditionalization of culture in the West. the dialectic approach unwittingly reinforces the very dynamics it seeks to remedy. it is deeply sensitive to the centrifugal tendencies of the present.GLOBALIZATION AND CATHOLICITY 423 The complementary understanding of catholicity is consonant with the more optimistic anthropology of the analogical tradition.-M. A position that presumes unity may be particularly unsuited for the present moment.-R. it tends to construe the contemporary moment as a threat to unity alone. 3 vols. (It must always be remembered. but the embrace of new cultures that provide greater insights into the gospel message. Nevertheless. and of retrograde aspects that require correction and conversion. when the church must engage a cultural ecology where identity projection has become a fundamental cultural practice. that the unity of the church is a gift of the Holy Spirit. The spread of the church is not the expansion of a cultural boundary. (New York: Seabury. These problems are not essential to a complementary understanding of catholicity. Each locality is a potential bearer both of riches that contribute to the greater fullness of the entire church. which always expects God to be already at work abroad in the world. however. In so doing. The church must engage a situation that demands clear identities without allowing itself to be reduced to a mere identity front. J. The dialectical approach is both less and more at home in the contemporary cultural ecology. 27 . this position neither presumes nor devalues unity. The result is a smaller. Indeed. but rather presents catholicity as a complementary challenge. I Believe in the Holy Spirit. younger generations are left susceptible to reducing Catholicism to rigid identity fronts.27) The weaknesses of such assumptions may be evident in the changes of the past four decades. He argued for a qualitative under- Yves Congar. Generations raised in a church that rigidly guarded identity compensated for these extremes. purer church. As a result. A complementary conception of catholicity provides a much more adequate basis for engaging globalization. On the one hand. often without providing sufficient clarity on what was essential for the following generations who had no experience of such rigidity. 1983) 2:24–38. such approaches can rest too secure in their assumptions of unity. Tillard provided a model of such an approach.

the depth of its penetration into human existence. 31 Dulles. It describes the fullness of the divine gift of salvation to the church. Geographical breadth gained emphasis following Augustine’s conflict with the Donatists. “The gift of catholicity becomes the task of catholicity. The katholou is a burden that must be born in the church’s messy engagement with cultures in all their particularity. Catholicity as Breadth Regarding globalization. Local Church 67–68. Ruddy (Local Church 66–72) modifies this schema by developing the notion of “depth. . and in Catholic Counter-Reformation polemics against early Protestantism. It illuminates the threat posed by the heterogenization of communities and the reduction of culture to a resource for identity projection.424 THEOLOGICAL STUDIES standing of catholicity as the divine gift of fullness of faith. Ruddy. But as the gift of salvation for the world. Catholic unity cannot be achieved without engaging difference.” 30 See Dulles. the breadth of its embrace of cultures.31 The technologies of globalization allow a fuller realization of the koi28 Christopher Ruddy. geographical breadth is the most intuitively obvious aspect of catholicity. 2006) 69. Patristic usage stressed the “fullness of faith” and the salvation of humankind fully present in the church. Catholicity of the Church 72–74. 1985).”28 A complementary model of catholicity provides analytical and practical resources to address all challenges of globalization. which made an issue of its initial confinement to Europe. This understanding bore within itself the mission to “make disciples of all nations” (Mt 28:19) because it presumed the unity of all humankind. regardless of its geographical extension. harmony of difference. it cannot remain static. 29 Avery Dulles offers a fourfold schema in The Catholicity of the Church (Oxford: Clarendon. Catholicity is multifaceted. The eschatological fulfillment of God’s promise is meant for all. Catholicity of the Church 13–18. The Local Church: Tillard and the Future of Catholic Ecclesiology (New York: Herder & Herder.29 Three aspects of catholicity are particularly relevant for evaluating and responding to the heterogenizing and deterritorializing forces of globalization: catholicity as breadth. catholicity as fullness bears an expansionist imperative to set no limits to the breadth of salvation. The fractiousness these dynamisms encourage is a direct attack on the essence of the church.30 Despite the reaction against this shallow geographical account by 20th-century ressourcement theology. but these centrifugal tendencies cannot be addressed by a withdrawal from the task of catholicity. and the temporal dimension of its extension through history. and depth.

Catholicity as Communion of Difference Catholicity is. demands them. Unity in the Church or the Principle of Catholicism. 38 For example. which in its unity avoids both a “wearying monotone” and an “antagonistic discord.33 Congar observed that globalization facilitates a greater depth of encounter with the “other” that makes communion both more concrete and more difficult. for a shallow sense of catholicity understood as mere geographical dispersal to be deepened into a true communion among the local churches of the world. (New York: HarperCollins. characterized by a “both/ and” rather than an “either/or” approach. Schreiter. without reducing everything to merely mercantile 33 32 . “The Local Church within Catholicity” 453. John Paul II. 34 Congar.GLOBALIZATION AND CATHOLICITY 425 nonia of the entire church. ed.”36 Avery Dulles argues that “catholicity. living challenge of negotiating similarity and difference between cultures in real time. Catholicity of the Church 167. I Believe in the Holy Spirit 25. in Richard McBrien’s words. Ecclesia in America no.38 Such ad extra missions are inextricably tied to the ad intra culTillard.34 This is evident in the recent crisis in the Anglican communion between the American Episcopalian Church and the rest of the communion over the ordination of Bishop Gene Robinson. Benedict XVI has continued this usage. In his July 3. Peter Erb (Washington: Catholic University of America. Catholicism.”37 There is a danger that such ideal descriptions can seduce us into assuming that certain forms of Catholicism are unquestionably robust. address to the Ambassador of Uruguay. John Paul II frequently expressed his hope of communion and dialogue for a world rent with factionalism and conflict. he said that globalization provides an opportunity for “weaving a network of understanding and solidarity among peoples. 35 Richard P. New Catholicity 132. 36 Johann Adam Möhler. far from excluding differences. Toward this hope. Tillard noted that the church in the West has long depended on the centralized administrative and communications structures of Roman authority. rev. when habits such as unity in difference depend on particular practices and discourses that may be endangered. one that builds global solidarity and respects human rights. rather than reducing all things to the utilitarian calculus of neoliberal economics. 1996) 194–98.35 Johann Adam Möhler used the analogy of the choir constituted in the contrasting contributions of different voices. trans. 1994) 10.32 Schreiter argues that the new infrastructures provide the opportunity for the church to become more deeply catholic. McBrien. that is. 2006. Transcultural communion has moved from an abstract ideal affirmed in the Creed and symbolized in the hierarchy to a real. 55. 37 Avery Dulles. he frequently envisioned the church’s role in bringing about a “different” globalization.

The call to engage the diversity of human cultures is also a call to enter into the depths of each. and class divisions. Therefore. 2008) 39 Lumen gentium no. This change in cultural ecology is crucial for an adequate ecclesial ii_vatican_council/documents/vat-ii_const_19641121_lumen-gentium_en. Believers lose the religious habits of acceptance and fraternal argument necessary for dealing with intramural diversity. catholicity calls for diocesan and interparish structures to weave parishes into local and global ecclesial networks. 2008). http://www. 40 Ibid.vatican.426 THEOLOGICAL STUDIES tivation of habits. practices and structures of communion. The situation demands an intentional cultivation of the habits of catholicity to supplement what was once brought about by the inertia of social space. Theologically speaking.40 Catholicity as Depth The various dimensions of catholicity are interrelated. 23. But this analysis makes clear that such a goal requires more than exhortations. inclusivity of difference becomes more difficult to sustain as communities become more theologically and ideologically monochromatic and unbound from territorial space.” http://www. 48. racial. bishops are the “visible source and foundation of unity in their own particular churches. The call to universality and geographic breadth also necessitates engagement in the particular and the local. however. and in many cases bishops have worked heroically to bring about communion and reconciliation. The current deterritorialized.html (accessed February 16. The situation challenges the church to deepen its structures and practices of catholicity and communion in order to more deeply bind the whole church of Christ in a time when the cultural dynamisms of globalization are rending the church asunder.”39 The unity of the local church. congregational model of community makes communion in place the exception rather than the rule. has long been more the result of the simple inertia of social space—nominally unified because locale bound them together. . The notion of catholicity as depth provides resources both to elaborate the response to heterogenizaor pragmatic exchanges. no. Thus. The church must now intentionally cultivate its own practices of inclusion in order to be the sacrament of unity for the broader world. it also requires an institutional and structural response at the parish level and beyond.zenit. Local churches have been riven by ethnic. We are no longer forced to listen to‫ס‬91975 (accessed February 16. We must now intentionally work to hear the truth in the other side and to preserve it as part of the fullness of the tradition.

Cavanaugh argues that catholicity provides a fundamentally different and better conception of universality than does global capitalism. Against this deception. The depth of local commitment grounds deeper global relationships. 113.42 This “simulated catholicity” is problematic because. Rather. Ibid.” Modern Theology 7 (1990) 67–100. Reports from missionaries and delegations provided accounts of events transpiring in those countries. 115. a “universal mapping of space typified by detachment from any particular localities”41 that reduces diversity to the “merely different” required for formal exchange. These accounts disputed Cavanaugh. 109. it roots the individual in a community that is enmeshed in a global network of relationships. 43 Cavanaugh. which serves as a false catholicity. “A Certain ‘Politics of Speech’: ‘Religious Pluralism’ in the Age of the McDonald’s Hamburger. by its very workings. Theopolitical Imagination 98–99.” “The action of the Eucharist collapses spatial divisions not by sheer mobility but by gathering in the local assembly. and to provide insights for engaging the deterritorializing aspects of globalization. how it functions as a heuristic space where the particularities of cultures and societies are brought into focus for encounter with the gospel. Local churches provided important conduits of information and concern.GLOBALIZATION AND CATHOLICITY 427 tion found in catholicity as breadth and communion of difference. citing Kenneth Surin.”43 The Central American solidarity movement in the 1980s provides a compelling example of this possibility. Cavanaugh poses a logic of catholicity derived from the Eucharist that “maps space in such a way that one becomes more united to the whole the more tied one becomes to the local. at 74. Theopolitical Imagination 110. “it hides the way that space remains rigidly segmented” between first world consumers and bodies of producers and the predicaments of their locations. as well as channels of agency for believers to become aware of and involved in the plight of fellow Christians in Central America. Depth as Unity Made Concrete If catholicity complements the mark of unity with the imperative that the church embrace diversity. 42 41 . Catholicity is not an abstract allegiance that lifts one out of the burdens of place (the current cultural ecology exacerbates the Roman Catholic ultramontane tendency to do just that). We will consider how the local church can function as a locus for the concrete experience of unity. the local community provides a place where this embrace of fullness is made concrete. and how it can serve to ground people in the local amidst a world where the freedoms of access draw people into deterritorialized niches that float free of the places in which they live.

A sacramental understanding of church requires that we see its encounter with the local in terms of both embrace and challenge. Minn. J.: Liturgical. diocesan networks. 45 J. L’Église locale 133. O’Hara (New York: Herder & Herder. 47 Tillard.-M. and to stand in solidarity with people in those countries. Depth as Sacramental Realization Tillard describes the catholic imperative to engage the depths of the local as the divine gift of fullness “‘plung[ing] its roots’ into the soil of diverse human cultures. rather than with the instrumental rationality of global capital production. The Church and the Sacraments. L’Église locale: Ecclésiologie de communion et catholicité (Paris: Cerf.47 Particular See Sharon Erickson Nepstad. These community and institutional networks are imbued with the values and goals of Christianity.”45 Here salvation is rendered historically concrete. The good that is present is elevated in the fullness of the church. or with the consumer mentality that inflects marketing and travel networks. Church groups organized to change U. A Voice of Their Own 154–55. concern for. the church is the fundamental sacrament of salvation. Translation from Ruddy. 44 . government and the mainstream media. or with the nationalism of state boundaries and relationships. Local communities’ ties to global networks of church institutions and communities remain an important resource for cultivating an alternative form of globalization. postmodern signifier. to provide aid.S. Convictions of the Soul: Religion. 2005) 163–86. Clark.428 THEOLOGICAL STUDIES those offered by the U.-R. Tillard speaks of the local community as an exegetical and hermeneutical agent that manifests catholicity by engaging the tradition from the “tissue” of a particular human location. and Agency in the Central American Solidarity Movement (New York: Oxford University. regional and hemispheric synods. Tillard. These include formal interparish partnerships. 46 Karl Rahner. trans. W. 1963) For a discussion of the resources of Rahner’s thought for a theology of the local church see William A. and major gatherings. A Voice of Their Own: The Authority of the Local Parish (Collegeville. it must show forth this salvation in the concrete lives of particular communities in their full historical contexts. 1995) 126. if always open to eschatological completion. as Rahner argues.S. 2004). while the sinfulness is rejected and transformed. Culture. Local Church 66. networks of religious colleges and universities.44 Ties to local communities deepened believers’ knowledge of. Clark. policy. If.46 The question posed by virtual forms of community is whether the church as fundamental sacrament effects what it signifies or merely serves as a shallow. and the ability to help distant others. regional bishops’ conferences. global religious orders.

it always had to push them beyond their extant limits toward their eschatological fullness. The first involves entry into the depths of a particular sociocultural context. Oppression and inequality are deeply woven into societies. it did not appear within them as a division to be challenged. Racism in the U. Theopolitical Imagination 122. The eucharistic community can provide a place where the tensions. In light of the deterritorializing effects of globalization. See the discussion of tactics in Vincent Miller. While the church is called to bring spaces of communal salvation into being. diokesis. South was long abetted by conformity of the Christian churches to racial segregation. Theopolical Imagination 9–52. a sectarian communal ecology makes it likely the church will segregate into enclaves along local divisions. Since racial division structured the churches.48 It is precisely this power of holding the gospel in tension with the complexities of the local that is endangered by the heterogenizing forces of globalization.GLOBALIZATION AND CATHOLICITY 429 cultures contribute insights that unveil the meaning of elements of the Scriptures and tradition lying dormant within the church. Far from being an inert organizational unit. or neighborhood. it has used them all. Cavanaugh’s concern about the violence and idolatry of the nation-state are well founded.50 Social forms bring with them powerful ideological imaginaries that are very difficult to counter. Cavanaugh finds a model in Archbishop Óscar Romero’s response to the murder of Rutilio Grande in the Salvadoran civil war.S. it does so not by forming them de novo. Nevertheless. town. All must either unite in the same Eucharist to face this murderous division within the community or place themselves outside of communion. it is a structure that can be used to stand against the deterritorializing effects of globalization—a place where the church can hold and frame the local. injustices. but by using its doctrinal and liturgical resources to transform extant structures. the territorial parish appears surprisingly important.49 It did not create the structures of ekklesia. 49 48 . 2004) 174–223. In this light. But when mediating structures are being swept away by the indiCavanaugh. Consuming Religion: Christian Faith and Practice in a Consumer Culture (New York: Continuum. Rather than the local church constructing a space within which the injustices of the local context can be brought to light. Romero declared that Grande’s funeral mass at the cathedral would be the only liturgy celebrated in the archdiocese that Sunday. The confrontation between the gospel and the sinful aspects of culture and society has two ties to locality. it is important to attend to the value of extant territorializing structures. and divisions of society can appear and be illuminated by the demands of the gospel. The church could not fragment into different factions in response to his death. 50 Cavanaugh. In so doing. village.

52 . or global level engagement with international governmental organizations. at 321. to develop policies to address them. “Here—where bonds of personal relationships and love can be experienced firsthand. J. environmental destruction. the famine.” In patristic usage. together with the pains and efforts of people striving to transform the human condition into what their conscience teaches them it has to be.-M. In my own parish.-R. at 7. the church uses secular structures in its own broader mission to transformatively engage the world.53 The local church territorializes Christianity in the sense of giving it an analytical focus and political traction in the problems of the world. It ties the church to the needs and stories of those who live there. provide means to evaluate problems that face a given region or social unit.” ibid. a protest about the child tax credit of 2004. cited in Ruddy. In Tillard’s words.51 The local community functions as a heuristic space for expressing local problems and inviting a response from the church.” America 191. The “church as such receives into its own flesh the realities of creation or the fruits of human skill. Miller.430 THEOLOGICAL STUDIES vidualizing tide of global capitalism. whatever their manifest defects.-R. the nation-state remains an essential structure for enabling the church to engage particular localities. 307–22. In William Clark’s words. and to construct coalitions for a collective response.”52 Some issues appear only on the local level—homelessness. “Politics in the Parish.-M. which left out the working poor. housing.” One in Christ 28 (1992) 1–12. where the concrete demands of justice in the 51 J. universal situation. Democratic institutions on all scales. Tillard. suffering is always particular—for example. episcopal conferences and national governments. This catholic task of engaging the local has another dimension as well. catholicity is the relation of the pleroma of God’s salvation to the “pleroma of human suffering and misery” which “cannot be identified with a kind of abstract. Our desire to be a eucharistic community and our attempts to realize this desire through multicultural liturgies and whole-parish celebrations were put to the test by a political policy that cut through the parish along economic lines. “Reception—Communion.4 (August 16. earthquake. was given great strength by the framing of the liturgy. etc. The church must also challenge and transgress the limits of these structures. 2004) 18–20. “‘Communion’ and Salvation. John Paul II and the participants of the Synod of the Americas provided many examples of how the church can constitute its own territorializing of the world in Ecclesia in America. Tillard. 53 Vincent J. or suffering of a specific city or region. Local Church 71. Thus from parish and diocesan engagement with municipal and county governments.

then this strategy becomes insufficient. the cultural effects of globalization include not only homogenization but also heterogenization and deterritorialization. Parishes were once territorialized by the neighborhoods in which they were located. it must take steps to actively foster it. The good news is that the same communications technologies that foster deterritorialized cultural niches also provide resources to anchor communities in and perhaps letters to the editor in the diocesan newspaper.GLOBALIZATION AND CATHOLICITY 431 world can be recognized and engaged—the church’s own sacrament of Christ’s presence is celebrated. Descriptions of the cultural effects of globalization that limit themselves to homogenization prescribe the preservation of the church’s threatened particularity in the face of the eroding and syncretistic maelstrom of global hyperculture. People gather in the same place. being rendered virtual from within. A Voice of Their Own 171. What if such technologies were made part of local parish life? Given the rising importance of such virtual social spaces such as myspace. . but their mutual participation in the liturgy does not draw them out of their separate cultural niches. The actual choice between tying them to the traditional spaces of the church or surrendering to them as deterritorialized substitutes. Here both the possibility and the struggle of genuine Christian community are ‘realized’ in the truest sense. however. The church can no longer rely on geographic and social inertia to maintain communion. Where can parishioners find anything close to that level of engagement in their own communities? Neighborhood associations have flourished by using these technologies.”54 Parishes are. as this article argues. Read the discussions on national blogsites such as the Paulist-sponsored bustedhalo. CONCLUSION Different analyses of the cultural context lead to differing diagnoses of the problems the church faces and diverse prescriptions for the choice is not whether or not to use these technologies to deepen the territorial space of the local or Amy Welborn’s openbook. Now they must consciously establish territorial connections themselves. Such a diagnosis works well with approaches that subordinate catholicity to and facebook. dueling prayers of the faithful. It is striking how little these technologies have been exploited for parishes. Conversation on those levels is limited to chats over coffee. Far from combating the 54 Clark. however. and telling how much easier it is to participate in deterritorialized email and blog discussions for pressure groups and national figures than for local parishes or dioceses. If.

432 THEOLOGICAL STUDIES effects of globalization. this intimacy brings as much conflict as harmony. The outcome is far from clear. becoming yet another enclave projecting a pure and irrelevant identity. These ideals are not mere ideological desiderata. Catholicity provides an idea of the universal that embraces global diversity. an exclusive focus on preserving particularity results in merely being swept along with the currents of cultural heterogenization. and an ideal of wholeness that embraces difference. Much depends on whether the church stretches into its responsibilities or retreats by conforming to the current cultural ecology. rather they are grounded and articulated in a global network of institutions and community relationships. The world desperately needs the church to be a sacrament of the salvation and unity of humankind. The three dimensions of catholicity discussed here illustrate the full challenge posed by globalization and provide an alternative telos and mapping of space for engaging it. Capitalism and technology have brought the distant parts of the world closer together than ever before. As we know all too well. . an imperative of unity that must reach into the local.

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful