THE CHURCH AS THE PEOPLE OF GOD
by Charles Curran
Vatican II reminded us that the church consists of the people of God and not just their leaders in the church hierarchy. From early times, Catholic theology attached great importance to the sensus fidelium (sense of the faithful) as an important source of knowledge of what the Spirit is saying to us. Contemporary theology once again emphasizes the need for the whole church to receive the teaching of the hierarchical magisterium. It is true that the hierarchical magisterium itself does not give as much importance to these theological positions today, but they are nonetheless deeply imbedded in the Church tradition and should be used by all of us. One can say truthfully not only that many in the church but to some degree the church itself has already changed its teaching on a number of the sexual issues discussed earlier.
When I am asked how I can stay in the church when the church has condemned me as a theologian, I can answer that the church did not condemn me –the hierarchical magisterium did. Yes, I was hurt by the action of the hierarchical magisterium, but I have received much support and solace from the broader Catholic theological community and from many of the people of God, who continue to nourish and support me in many ways.