The Evangelization Station

Best Catholic Links


Search this Site


Home


Contact


Feedback


Mailing List


Pray for Pope Francis


Scroll down for topics


100+ Important Documents in United States History


Anti-Catholicism


Apostolic Fathers of the Church


Articles Worth Your Time


 Biographies & Writings of Notable Catholics


Catholic Apologetics


Catholic Calendar


Catholic News Commentary by Michael Voris, S.T.B.


Catholic Perspectives


Catholic Social Teaching


Christology


Church Around the World


Small animated flag of The Holy See (State of the Vatican City) graphic for a white background

Church Contacts


  Church Documents


Church History


Church Law


Church Teaching


Demonology


Doctors of the Church


Ecumenism


Eschatology

(Death, Heaven, Purgatory, Hell)


Essays on Science


Evangelization


Fathers of the Church


Free Catholic Pamphlets


 Heresies and Falsehoods


How to Vote Catholic


Let There Be Light

Q & A on the Catholic Faith


Links to Churches and Religions


Links to Newspapers, Radio and Television


Links to Recommended Sites


Links to Specialized Agencies


Links to specialized Catholic News services


Liturgy

General Instruction of the Roman Missal


Mariology


Marriage & the Family


Modern Martyrs

Mexican Martyrdom


Moral Theology

****

Pope John Paul II's

Theology of the Body


Movie Reviews (USCCB)


New Age


Occult


Parish Bulletin Inserts


Political Issues


Prayer and Devotions


Pro-Life

****

Hope after Abortion

Project Rachel

****

Help & Information for Men

****


Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults


Sacraments


Scripture


Spirituality


The Golden Legend


Vatican


Vocation Links & Articles

 


What the Cardinals believe...


World Religions


Pope John Paul II

In Memoriam


John Paul II

Beatification


Pope Benedict XVI

In Celebration



Visits to this site

Suicide by Secularism?

 

5/4/2005 3:34:00 PM by www.washingtonpost.com - George F. Will

 

The astonishing pilgrimage of Europeans to Vatican City for the most attended funeral in history obscured a stark fact confronting the conclave that tomorrow begins selecting the next pope: Vatican City is 109 acres of faith in a European sea of unbelief.

 

Poles, especially, traveled to Rome to honor John Paul II. But what was said of Georges Clemenceau -- that he had one illusion, France, and one disillusion, mankind, including the French -- might with some exaggeration be said of John Paul II and Poland. He was vexed by the zeal with which Poles, liberated from the asceticism inflicted by communism, embraced consumerism, materialism and hedonism. From Catholic Ireland to Catholic Spain to Poland, the most Catholic nation, the trends of contraception, divorce and abortion are moving against Catholic teaching.

 

 

The challenge confronting the church can be expressed in one word: modernity. The church preaches that freedom is life lived in conformity to God's will as manifested in revelation and interpreted by the church. Modernity teaches that freedom is the sovereignty of the individual's will -- personal volition that is spontaneous, unconditioned, inviolable and self-legitimizing.

 

John Paul II's mastery of the presentational aspect of the papacy -- a mastery dependent on two modern technologies, television and jet aircraft -- may cause the conclave to seek a candidate with similar skills. But the substance of what he presented did not amount to accommodation with the culture of modernity.

 

In America, a market-driven society, there is a religion market in which the most successful competitors for congregations are churches with clear doctrinal and strict moral positions. For these churches, the "crisis of Christianity" is congestion in their parking lots.

 

Christianity is a varied and complex structure -- theological and institutional -- erected on a foundation of biblical prophecies and reports of the activities of Jesus. For two millennia these prophecies and reports have been, to say no more, subject to various interpretations. Hence the search, from the earliest days of Christianity, for sources of authoritative interpretation. That search produced great councils -- Nicaea, Trent -- and the post-Reformation papacy. When the conclave begins, a European epoch may begin to end.

 

It took 455 years to pry the papacy out of Italian hands. Now, after 26 years of a pope from Eastern Europe, the church that is withering in Europe is flourishing in the Southern Hemisphere, where materialism and consumerism are less powerful but people passionately desire the affluence that drives materialism and consumerism.

 

Europe itself is withering. On the day of John Paul II's funeral, the European Union's statistics agency reported that the decline of birthrates means that within five years deaths will exceed births in the European Union. By 2013 Italy's population will begin to decline; the next year Germany's will begin to drop. After 2010 Europe's population growth will be entirely from immigration. By 2025 not even immigration will prevent declining fertility from accelerating what one historian calls the largest "sustained reduction in European population since the Black Death of the 14th century."

 

In his new book "The Cube and the Cathedral: Europe, America, and Politics Without God," George Weigel, biographer of John Paul II, argues that Europe's "demographic suicide" will cause its welfare states to buckle and is creating a "vacuum into which Islamic immigrants are flowing." Since 1970 the 20 million legal Islamic immigrants equal the combined populations of Ireland, Denmark and Belgium.

 

"What," Weigel asks, "is happening when an entire continent, wealthier and healthier than ever before, declines to create the human future in the most elemental sense, by creating a next generation?" His diagnosis is that Europe's deepening anemia is a consequence of living on what he considers the thin gruel of secular humanism that excludes transcendent reference points for cultural and political life. Such reference points are, he thinks, prerequisites for freedom understood as "the capacity to choose wisely and act well as a matter of habit."

 

Perhaps. But Weigel also argues that Europe's crisis of civilizational morale was catalyzed by World War I. So Europe's retreat from religion may reflect a reasonable weariness and wariness born of four centuries of religious wars and convulsions wrought by the political religions of fascism and communism.

 

Weigel doubts it is possible to "sustain a democratic political community absent the transcendent moral reference points for ordering public life that Christianity offers the political community." Absent a reconversion of the continent, Europeans, who -- like many Americans -- find the injection of transcendence into politics frightening, are going to find out whether Weigel is right.

 

 

webmaster  www.evangelizationstation.com

Copyright 2004 Victor Claveau. All Rights Reserved