Saturday, April 19, 2008

How the Media is Missing the Pope’s Radical Critique of American Religion 

For those of you who are interested, a good account of what the Pope has actually been saying and doing while here. I'm not getting into my own thoughts about all of this, just directing those interested to an informative summary. Needless to say, the adulatory news coverage and the many "Pope loves USA" articles (like the one on the cover of Time) are inaccurate.

A key quote from his address to U.S. bishops:

Perhaps America’s brand of secularism poses a particular problem: it allows for professing belief in God, and respects the public role of religion and the Churches, but at the same time it can subtly reduce religious belief to a lowest common denominator. Faith becomes a passive acceptance that certain things “out there” are true, but without practical relevance for everyday life. The result is a growing separation of faith from life: living “as if God did not exist”. This is aggravated by an individualistic and eclectic approach to faith and religion: far from a Catholic approach to “thinking with the Church”, each person believes he or she has a right to pick and choose, maintaining external social bonds but without an integral, interior conversion to the law of Christ.

Msgr Lorenzo Albacete (an authority on the Pope's thought and on Vatican goings-on) told Charlie Rose, after Ratzinger's election, that Ratzinger believed that “the number one problem with Christianity today is that the Christian life is no longer convincing. It doesn’t convince anyone. So his program is the formation of he says creative minorities, throughout the world, that will offer not words but the witness of a life full of humanity, of peace, of joy, so that people from what is a cruel world will find a home in these communities.”


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