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Report: When Faithful Flee

January 10, 2007

From the Philadelphia Inquirer:

It used to be called “Catholic Europe.” But if declining membership, plummeting church attendance, and shrinking vocations are measures, Roman Catholicism – indeed, Christianity – is headed toward collapse across the continent.

The feeling pervading church circles is that “something important has died, or is in a terminal state,” said the Rev. Michael Paul Gallagher, a theologian at Rome’s Jesuit seminary, Collegio Romano.

The crisis that lies just beyond the Vatican’s big bronze doors is arguably the gravest facing Pope Benedict XVI. But how to shore up the church’s dissipating base of 280 million baptized Catholics in more than two dozen countries – without bowing to Europe’s postmodern culture – is a conundrum that seems to have even the pontiff baffled.

In his first year, he has called for a return to worship and better training in the faith for youth. He also has pinned some hope for renewal on the small ecclesial movements he promotes; intensely conservative and often lay-led, groups such as Focolare and Regnum Christi devote themselves to special causes – the poor, the preservation of traditional families – and demand utter commitment, even vows, from their members.

Yet Benedict has made it clear that a grand plan eludes him.

“Secularism and de-Christianization are gaining ground… and the influence of Catholic ethics and morals is in constant decline,” he told German bishops late last summer.

“What can we do?” he asked. “I do not know.”

Related Posts:
Article: Say Goodbye To Europe

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