In our most recent Sophia Talks, Julien Hammond discussed the origin of the word “catholic” and the public perception of the Catholic Church being a closed-minded institution.
Hammond, who is the ecumenical officer for the Archdiocese of Edmonton, explained that the word “catholic” is an adjective used to represent diversity.
“If I say, for instance, that I have a catholic taste in music, it means that I like all kinds of music. If I have a catholic interest in mystery novels, it means I like a wide variety of authors in that genre,” he said. “In other words, I’m interested in the widest scope of whatever is being described.”
He pointed to the Catholic Church itself, noting that Roman Catholicism is one of more than 20 different religious orders that fall under the Catholic umbrella.
As open as the word’s origin is, the Catholic Church has struggled with perceptions of being closed-minded.
“The church exists in the in between of its ideal universal embrace and the reality that imperfect human beings make up the church,” Hammond said. “Like all human institutions… the church is subject to certain weaknesses and limitations.”
He then added: “Another way to say this is the church would be perfect except for all the people in it.”
As a result of this and perception of closed-mindedness, the ministry and gospel of Jesus has been questioned. Regardless, he said the church is called to enter into respectful dialogue on all topics.
“The catholicity of the church, this universal outlook that embraces all kinds of diversity, is an integral part of what it means to be capital-C Catholic, but this catholicity is sometimes conditioned by the sinfulness of the church’s members, and it is always conditioned by the good news of Jesus Christ,” he said.
The 11-minute speech can be watched in full above.