One of the abundantly fruitful acquisitions of post-conciliar Catholic Christianity is the highly complex and pluralistic articulation of religious possibilities emerging out of a renewed and rigorous study of its heritage. Rather than a lifeless body of propositions, this past is more and more approached and seen to be a rich, living reality in need of critical reapportionment. While this activity is discomforting and disconcerting for some individuals and even vigorously opposed by others, there is little doubt that this mining of the multiplicity of riches will continue.

From a general theological point of view, one area proving to be particularly productive is the on-going dialogue concerning those unique areas of emphasis peculiar to Catholicism. This discussion is reaching such a point that in outlining what he views as Catholicism's "essential traits" the distinguished American Protestant theologian Langdon Gilkey writes: What ... a restructuring of these ... essential traits ... might look like, only a Catholic can or should say. But a sympathetic observer may well state that this is where the hope of a revitalized Christianity probably lies.

What is it that Gilkey sees in Catholicism that leads him to such an assertion? What does he think is the underlying vision that defines the uniqueness of the Catholic religious horizon? And for the purposes of this paper, in what ways does this uniqueness function so as to shape the way Catholicism views society? It is the purpose of this paper to address these issues.



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.