James Fowler speaks of faith as a way of making meaning and that there are identifiable stages of faith which develop over the person's life cycle. Fowler speaks of faith as a "verb" and contrasts his understanding of faith with those who would consider faith to be a "noun". When faith is understood as a noun, it is like having a bank deposit rather than being involved in a life long process (doing). (And the bankers have all the power and all the truth.)
Nevertheless this universal Church is in practice incarnate in the individual Churches made up of such and such an actual part of mankind, speaking such and such a language, heirs of a cultural patrimony, of a vision of the world, of a historical past, of a particular human substratum. Receptivity to the wealth of the individual Church corresponds to a special sensitivity of modern man.
This has been the story not of two cities as such but of two Churches from two very different cities, Sydney and Rome. Like children in a family, the relationship with parents matures over the years. This maturity of relationship is organic and has parallels in the relationship between Christian communities. The Sydney Church is not the Roman Church. This is not to weaken the unity between the two communities but to rather point to their strength. Rome has nothing to gain from weak local Churches which would appear to be a branch office but it has much to gain from strong local Churches continuing to make disciples of all nations.
I have a very vivid memory of a conversation with one of my theology professors way back when. I asked him what was the most frustrating thing he encountered in teaching theology. He said hands down it was dealing with otherwise highly educated professionals whose understanding of their faith stopped at twelve. He admitted he was completely unable to understand the kind of intellectual compartmentalization that gap required. He said the one's who drove him the craziest were doctors and lawyers.
I asked him about psychologists and sociologists, and he laughed. He said theologians couldn't keep up with the information flow and that fact might prove to be a real problem in the long run. Especially if the Vatican kept silencing the theologians who were able to keep up. Theology had to honestly reflect man's understanding of himself and the social sciences were describing a different understanding of what makes humanity tick. He predicted this real divergence in the understanding of mankind would result in a very fractured Church. This was back in 1977.
Thirty some years later his words seem prophetic. Silencing theologians who dove into the new understandings of humanity have not done rank and file Catholics much good. Essentially we've been forced to choose between the security of the parental God of our youth or the far more intellectually engaging and mysterious God inherent in our sciences. That God is a verb not a noun. That God can't be defined and boxed. That God is found with in ourselves actively pushing our consciousness and understanding to growth. Growth reflects creation. Kittens become cats, seeds sprout into flowers, life moves towards more complexity and more beauty.
When that underlying impetus to growth is blocked, the result is stagnation, rot, and eventual death. That's just as true for Spiritual growth as any other kind of growth. The experience of being a child is meaningful and valid with in the context of the childhood experience. These experiences lay down the roots for the adult person. They are not however, intended to be the whole plant. That's a truism our current Church leadership seems unwilling to accept. Instead it sees this notion of individual spiritual growth as the ultimate threat to itself. Which is true as long as the leadership maintains the need to see it's leadership as a function of patriarchal dominance rather than maternal nurturing.
No matter how big the obstacles blocking a sapling, the sapling will grow towards the light. That's just the way life works and even the biggest of stumbling blocks can't stop that.