Monday, May 02, 2005


The new pope will have his work cut out for him as he faces declining numbers in Europe:
[A]cross Europe, Catholicism is withering after decades of steady erosion from the forces of secularism, consumer culture, and the fallout from priest sex abuse scandals.

In some of Catholic Europe's largest dioceses in Germany, France, Italy, and Ireland, the percentage of Catholics who attend Mass regularly has slipped to as low as 20 percent, and in a few cities, like Paris, has reached as low as the single digits, according to figures compiled by the church.

The new pope, Benedict XVI, who hails from Germany, has said that the erosion of the church in Europe is one of the greatest challenges facing his papacy. He has called on Catholics to resist ''a dictatorship of relativism" in the modern, secular West that he believes has damaged the Christian foundation of Europe.

In his just-published book, ''Values in Times of Upheaval," the pope, who was then still known as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, ruminated on the besieged soul of Christian Europe. ''In order to survive, Europe needs a critical acceptance of its Christian culture. Europe seems, in the very moment of its greatest success, to have become empty from the inside. Crippled, as it were," he writes.

My opinion on this is very mixed. As someone who is not a Catholic and who views it as a false way to Christ, I certainly do not support a flourishing Catholic Church. At the same time, for cultural reasons I would much rather see a Catholic Europe than a relativistic atheistic Europe. My opinion is that Europe must sink further into decadence before it will be interested in being redeemed again. That's a process likely to take a few more hundred years. Right now the doors of opportunity seem to be in the second and third worlds rather than in the first.


Chuck Anziulewicz said...

Dear Alan:

You describe yourself as "someone who is not a Catholic and who views it as a false way to Christ."

I have heard similar sentiments from others. Bob Jones III (of Bob Jones University) has written that Catholic theology leads to "spiritual ruin" (which I assume means Hell). At the website for the Fundamental Evangelistic Association (, Roman Catholicism is called "the world's deadliest cult."

So I'm a bit confused when you lament the waning influence of Cathoicism in Europe. Do you believe Catholic theology is as false as, say, Muslim theology? Or is it simply less false by degrees? I find this sort of quibbling over how one worships God to make my grasp of the whole religion thing all the more difficult.

Alan said...

Chuck, I'd wondered what had happened to you. I figured you'd just given up hope for the likes of me.

Regarding Catholicism I have mixed feelings. I'm not a Catholic because I don't believe it. You don't believe it, yet are still a Catholic, or were recently, anyway. I believe there is only one Way, which is outlined in Scripture. I don't believe the Catholic Church matches up with what the Scripture teaches.

That said, I have a great deal of appreciation for the genuine faith of a number of Catholics I know and respect. As their theology is Christ-centric (generally) there is much I have in common with them when it comes to issues such as general morality. In other words, I agree with them where you differ with them and probabaly vice versa.

I appreciate the leavening influence and cultural significance of Catholicism. It is certainly a step closer to Christ than Islam, which rejects Him as Lord and Messiah. I would not, by the way, call Catholicism a 'cult' in the pejorative sense at all.

I think my differences with Catholicism are more than quibbles. Read your Bible and see what the New Testament Christians believed, how they worshipped and how they lived. That should be your only guide.