Skip to comments.Europe Suffers From 'Faith Fatigue," Says Pope in Year-End Summary
Posted on 12/23/2011 6:50:38 AM PST by marshmallow
The Church in Europe is facing a crisis of faith, Pope Benedict XVI said in a year-end address to the leaders of the Roman Curia.
Citing Europes fatigue as a main reason for the crisis, the Pope noted that during the past year Europe has suffered through an economic and financial crisis that is ultimately based on the ethical crisis looming over the Old Continent.
The problem facing the Church, the Pope said, is well known; all Christiansespecially in Europe--should be aware that regular churchgoers are growing older all the time and that their number is constantly diminishing; that recruitment of priests is stagnating; that skepticism and unbelief are growing. After laying out the problem, the Pope stated flatly: If we find no answer to thisif faith does not take on new life, deep conviction, and real strength from an encounter with Jesus Christthen all other reforms will remain ineffective.
Against that background, the Pope continued, the Church struggles to revive an active faith. Looking back across 2011, he remarked that the ecclesial events of the outgoing year were all ultimately related to this theme.
Following a Vatican tradition, the Holy Father met on December 23 with members of the College of Cardinals and officials of the Roman Curia, for an exchange of Christmas greetings. After Cardinal Angelo Sodano, the Dean of the College of Cardinals, conveyed the greetings of the group, Pope Benedict replied, thanking the prelates for their service during the year. The Pope then offered a candid assessment of the challenges the Church faced in 2011.
Among the major initiatives of the year, the Pope highlighted the creation of a new Pontifical Council for the New Evangelization, dedicated to restoring the faith in societies that have lost their Christian character. He also mentioned his proclamation of a Year of Faith, with the same goal.
The Pontiff mentioned that some of his experience during the year have offered a more positive vision of the Churchs future. For example, he said, during a visit to Benin he found none of the faith fatigue that is so prevalent here. In Africa, he reported, the faithful appear so ready to sacrifice and so full of happiness that their attitude is an antidote to Europes exhaustion. Another sign of hope, the Pope said, was the celebration of World Youth Day, at which a new, more youthful form of Christianity can be seen. Pope Benedict saw five noteworthy characteristics of this vigorous form of Christianity:
First, there is a new experience of catholicity, of the Churchs universality;
Second, there is a new way of living our humanity, our Christianity, in a spirit of service to others;
Third, there is a profound spirit of adoration, most evident during Mass and exposition of the Blessed Sacrament;
Fourth, there is a renewed interest in sacramental Confession, which is increasingly coming to be seen as an integral part of the experience of World Youth Day;
Fifth, there is an active sense of joy.
In his description of the spirit that dominated World Youth Day, Pope Benedict contrasted the sense of solidarity with the selfish attitude that is too common in the secular Western world:
There came into my mind the image of Lots wife, who by looking round was turned into a pillar of salt. How often the life of Christians is determined by the fact that first and foremost they look out for themselves, they do good, so to speak, for themselves. And how great is the temptation of all people to be concerned primarily for themselves; to look round for themselves and in the process to become inwardly empty, to become pillars of salt.
When the light of Christianity goes out because God’s Word is no longer preached, the next Dark Ages begins. With modern technology unfettered by morals and ethics, it will be much more devastating than the first one.
Solution: Individual conversion to Biblical faith in Jesus Christ.
Hearing this expert drones on is akin to hearing someone complain about the lack of vitality in a cold corpse!
Europe is falling away because they are spiritually dead. And more “religion” is not the answer. They are not converted.
This all was entirely predictable. The light of European Christianity was dimmed by Vatican II. Make peace with the SSPX to restore our Catholic Tradition!
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Merry Christmas --- and see you at Mass!
Sterile Christianity that was dead and lukewarm created this crisis long before Vatican II. The Council coincided with technological advances in communications such as television, radio, and film that made it much easier to undermine the Church.
If faith is just an academic subject like math or science and isn’t something that is lived, then you get the situation that you have today in Western Europe.
Eastern Europe, however, has seen a Christian revival since the end of communism. I’d like some thoughts as to why.
Eastern Europe endured 70 years of communist oppression. They appreciate the freedom to worship.
Western Europe is like a spoiled child who hates his parents while living off their inheritance.
I don't think that more individualism, and its cousin relativism, is the answer. And, in practice, it's pretty weak when confronting the enemies of today: relativism, secularism and, most especially, Islam.
“I don’t think that more individualism, and its cousin relativism, is the answer. “
I said individual conversion, not individualism.
This church functionary speaks to cultures. Well, cultures don’t convert... individuals do. Andrew, Peter, James John - they all came individually and committed their lives to Jesus.
Appealing broadly to Europe about the societal advantages of the Christian “philosophy” will not save anyone. Only individual repentance and conversion will.
If you're suggesting individuals converting to what another individual has decided is Christ and what is Church, I think it's certainly on the road of individualism.
At best the result is disparate clumps, not the Church of the early martyrs. The persecutions the Church is facing in the future will mean that unity and community is going to matter in survival.
Well, cultures dont convert... individuals do.
It's not either or, there's a strong cultural component. The article refers to the New Evangelism. Study the first conversion of Europe and Russia for what he's referring to.
Appealing broadly to Europe about the societal advantages of the Christian philosophy will not save anyone.
I don't see where I implied this or how it applies.
Thanks for your courteous reply.
Yes they did but Andrew, Peter, James and John were open to the call of the Lord. They were men who sought God in their own hearts.
In Europe today, we're dealing with a different dynamic, I believe. By and large, we're dealing with people who have heard the Gospel but have turned their backs on it. That's a more difficult nut to crack I think, because their hearts have hardened and they've turned away from God.
How does record profundity equal sterility? American mass attendance, Catholic school attendance, and vocations for priests and nuns were at a all-time high just before Vatican II. Immediately upon circulation of reports from Vatican II, all these categories fell off a cliff. Admittedly, the rot had previously set in among high theologians, but the people had retained the faith until they were corrupted by Vatican II.
If faith is just an academic subject like math or science and isnt something that is lived, then you get the situation that you have today in Western Europe.
Real-world Roman Catholicism is much different than what you apparently have read about it books. For every traditionalist that I know, the mass is a very engrossing and holistic experience and the faith is the foundation of our lives. I grew up in the Vatican II religion. Almost all my friends and family members drifted away in their high school and college years. These days in traditionalist parishes, the youth are retained. Vatican II Catholicism is only a very pale shadow of the real thing.
Eastern Europe, however, has seen a Christian revival since the end of communism. Id like some thoughts as to why.
That is because Eastern economic marxism was much less effective against the faith than Western cultural marxism. Vatican II is the direct result and a primary weapon of cultural marxism.
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