Thursday, February 24, 2011
THE CATHOLIC CHURCH IS STRONGEST WHEN CATHOLICS TRANSCEND CULTURE
Irish Church lost influence by conforming to culture, Archbishop Martin says
February 23, 2011
Catholicism is a “minority culture” in Ireland today, according to Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin.
In an address at Magdalene College, Cambridge, the Primate of Ireland explained that secularism has taken a heavy toll on the faith in Ireland for years, to the point that most people—even those who identify themselves as Catholic—no longer order their lives according to the principles of the Catholic faith.
Archbishop Martin told his Cambridge audience that several years ago, Pope John Paul II asked how Ireland had suddenly become secularized. The Irish archbishop said that he respectfully disagreed with the Pontiff, telling him that the change had not come suddenly:
Secularisation, whatever that means exactly, had been on the Irish radar screen for many years. It was not all negative but it was not an overnight wonder. It was there, but not recognised. It was there but the answer of the Irish Church was for far too long to keep the same show on the road, not noticing that there were problems with the show and that the road was changing.
Years earlier, Archbishop Martin recalled, a sociology professor had told him that Catholicism was already a minority culture in Ireland. At the time the argument seemed outlandish, he said, but in time he came to understand the professor’s point. Now conceding that Catholicism is a minority culture, the archbishop said: “The challenge is to ensure that it is not an irrelevant minority culture.”
Archbishop Martin said that the Church has failed to capture the attention of young Irish, so that “there is a missing generation—and perhaps more than one.” He said that the Church must undertake greater efforts to reach young people.
On the public scene the influence of the Church has lapsed considerably, the archbishop continued, noting that “in the current political discussion in Ireland is increasingly marginal.” With elections approaching, he noted that none of the country’s political parties had made an effort to gain support from the Church.
Archbishop Martin said that the process of secularization was accelerated by the efforts of Church leaders to conform to the culture. He explained:
The paradoxical thing is that the farther the Church goes in adapting to the culture of the times, the greater is the danger that it will no longer be able to confront the culture of the time. It will only be able to speak the language of the culture of the day and not the radical newness of the message of the Gospel which transcends all cultures. It could become a type of civil religion: politically correct, but without the cutting edge of the Gospel.
Some have commented that the schismatic bishop of the Society of St. Pius X, Bishop Bernard Fellay may be right.
But what may the bishop be right in? Certainly he is not right to separate from the See of Peter or set himself and his society as the true Church.
But he may very well be right in saying that the Catholic Church, meaning clergy (bishops too) and laity have lost their Catholic identity. We can say that too about Martin Luther, many of his reforms were to call the Catholic Church of his period back to its true Catholic identity, but obviously he went overboard! Isn't this what Archbishop Martin of Ireland is saying about Irish Catholicism? The Irish and many other Catholics throughout the world were cooked slowly in the crock pot of secularism. They slowly lost their Catholic identity and allowed it to become an addendum to their lives rather than the substance of their lives.
Just look at just a few American Catholic politicians and the Catholics who support them. Have they seriously taken Vatican II's teaching that the laity bring the Catholic faith and their Catholic identity to the secular world to evangelize it as they dialogue with secularism? What has happened these past 50 years is Catholics being cooked and evangelized in the toxic stew of secularism and then trying to bring secular evangelism to their Church.
Let's name just a few of these politicians. Should we first start with John F. Kennedy. Then let's jump to Nancy Pelosi, Mario Cuomo, Vice President Biden. The list goes on and on.
Let's look at the clergy too while we are at it. How have we secularized and Polyannaized the liturgy where the prophetic message of the Gospel is watered down and the prophets look like clowns?