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The RoundTable

Radical Church

Winter 1986


Major Articles


  • The Healing of Nations: Resistance Church – William Durland
  • The Healing of Church: Women-Church – Harriette Baggett
  • The Healing of the People: Community Church – Gen Cassani, Rita Schonhoff

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Regular Features

  • Cover – Artwork by Genevieve Cassani
  • Why This Issue – Mark Scheu
  • Centerfold – Artwork by Jeff Finnegan
  • From Cass House – Mary Fitzgerald
  • From Little House - Mary Ann McGivern, SL
  • From Karen House – Pat Coy
  • Book Review: To Be A Revolutionary by James Carney, Reviewed by Mary Dutcher
  • From our Mailbag
  • RoundTable Talk – Ellen Rehg

Why This Issue:

What is Church? Is it the Roman Catholic institutional structure, or is it essentially a spiritual principle or truth? Is it all those who profess a faith in Christ, who are reborn in the Spirit, or is it all those who abide in love? What is this gathering of God's people under which we are one body, and what form or forms is it to be known by?


We propose to examine three radical forms of church in this issue. Bill Durland describes resistance church, Srs. Gen Cassani and Rita Schonhoff depict church as community, and Harriette Baggett analyzes women church. In addition, Mary Dutcher, with Witness for Peace in Nicaragua. reflects on Fr. Carney's autobiography. Among the house articles will be followed Mary Ann McGivern's impressions of Cuba. Finally, in "Round Table Talk" Ellen Rehg tells of her life as philosopher and Catholic Worker.


Some may wonder that there is so little of the "institutional" church in this issue. Indeed, the church as institution is a necessity: a means of preserving the movement Jesus left in his wake. As such it is always limited by the circumstances of its time and culture. Perhaps its greatest fault is that it often holds itself exempt from criticism, as if such were a threat to Jesus himself or to the Body of Christ. Yet the Spirit of God does not depend on the institutional church. On the contrary, it is the church which is dependent upon God.

With the Church's faltering at the Synod in Rome this November, the words Dorothy Day quoted return to haunt us: “The Church is the Cross on which Christ was crucified; one could not separate Christ from his Cross, and one must live in a state of permanent dissatisfaction with the Church.”


We offer this issue as a contribution to the ongoing pilgrimage of the church. We have chosen to focus on those three forms of church which seem to us most vibrant and most challenging. The Spirit of God breathes where and when this Spirit wills, and that is where we must place our hope.


We at the Catholic Worker continue to explore these pathways to God. As women church we recall that the St. Louis Catholic Worker was founded in 1977 as an avowed feminist venture. We are committed to a nonsexist, inclusive understanding of people, scripture, church, and God. As a resistance church, consonant with Worker tradition, members of our community continue to engage in acts of public witness and holy obedience. These include actions at General Dynamics' headquarters in Clayton, participation in the Pledge of Resistance, and long-term involvement in Witness for Peace (see Fall 1985 issue). Finally, we live out our vocation as community. We labor together, live together, make consensus decisions together, celebrate and grieve together, break bread and worship together.


The call of Jesus is a radical one. We suggest that all Christians are invited to be a church where women can participate as equals; where evil in the form of militarism is resisted; and where genuine community is nurtured.


Of course we fail daily. We pray that we all will grow in Spirit toward the one Church which in our tradition encompasses us all, the Mystical Body of Christ.


 -Mark Scheu




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