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View Full Version : Benedict XVI on Europe's role in the future of Christianity



Taras Bulba
Tuesday, September 5th, 2006, 03:18 PM
Excerpts from an interview the Pope did to TV channels ARD and ZDF, television service Deutsche Welle, and Vatican Radio:



Q: Holy Father, Christianity has spread around the world starting from Europe. Now many people think that the future of the Church is to be found in other continents. Is that true? Or, in other words, what is the future of Christianity in Europe, where it looks like it's being reduced to the private affair of a minority?

Benedict XVI: I'd like to introduce a few subtleties. It's true, as we know, that Christianity began in the Near East. And for a long time, its main development continued there. Then it spread in Asia, much more than what we think today after the changes brought about by Islam. Precisely for this reason its axis moved noticeably toward the West and Europe. Europe -- we're proud and pleased to say so -- further developed Christianity in its broader intellectual and cultural dimensions.

...Europe definitely became the center of Christianity and its missionary movement. Today, other continents and other cultures play with equal importance in the concert of world history. In this way the number of voices in the Church grows, and this is a good thing.

It's good that different temperaments can express themselves -- the special gifts of Africa, Asia and America, Latin America in particular. Of course, they are all touched not only by the word of Christianity, but by the secular message of this world that carries to other continents the disruptive forces we have already experienced.

All the bishops from different parts of the world say: We still need Europe, even if Europe is only a part of a greater whole. We still carry the responsibility that comes from our experiences, from the science and technology that was developed here, from our liturgical experience, to our traditions, the ecumenical experiences we have accumulated: All this is very important for the other continents too.

So it's important that today we don't give up, feeling sorry for ourselves and saying: "Look at us, we are just a minority; let's at least try and preserve our small number!" We have to keep our dynamism alive, open relationships of exchange, so that new strength for us comes from there.

Read the rest here: http://www.zenit.org/english/visualizza.phtml?sid=93418

So yes, even with the growth of the faith in the Third World and elsewhere, Europe will still maintain an important place within the universal church. Even today Europe is still recognized as the intellectual leader of the Christian world.

Moody
Tuesday, September 5th, 2006, 06:41 PM
So yes, even with the growth of the faith in the Third World and elsewhere, Europe will still maintain an important place within the universal church. Even today Europe is still recognized as the intellectual leader of the Christian world.

But not as the moral leader.

And just as Europe transformed the very different early Christianity of the Judaeo-Christians, is not then the Third World Christianity bound to be vastly different to that of Western Christianity?

For how long can the 'Church' pretend that it presides over a Universal Faith?

And just as Europeans transformed that early Jewish-Christianity by its Pagan and Heathen influence, isn't it the case that ultimately Western Christianity will eventually be divested of all its Jewish-Christian elements?

When that finally happens, we can stop pretending that it has anything to do with the 'Christianity' of the early Jews and that of the new 'Third World'?

Do we really want anything to do with Jews and Blacks?

Taras Bulba
Wednesday, September 6th, 2006, 07:34 PM
But not as the moral leader.

Well maybe not the sole moral leader.



And just as Europe transformed the very different early Christianity of the Judaeo-Christians, is not then the Third World Christianity bound to be vastly different to that of Western Christianity?

Yes of course. That is exactly what will happen and we should happy that it is happening.



For how long can the 'Church' pretend that it presides over a Universal Faith?

Well perhaps you misunderstand what universal actually means. As this Eastern Catholic site correctly observes:



http://home.nyc.rr.com/mysticalrose/eastern.html

All the rites of the Catholic Church also hold the same dogmas; they are unequivocally united in faith and moral teachings, for they are all part of one Holy Mother Church. Yet their policies and practices often differ according to custom. This is a good and healthy thing; it shows that the One Truth of God can be celebrated in many different ways by various cultures.

Universal is not the same as uniform. Christianity has always been universal, but it has never been uniform:



http://www.unicorne.org/ORTHODOXY/articles/alex_roman/nationalism2.htm

The Christian faith has always been preached and lived within a particular spiritual-cultural focus.

Roman, Greek, Syriac, Slavic, Indian, and other forms of Christianity came about as a result of a cultural fusion with the message of Jesus Christ.

A cultural pride in one's [] Catholic heritage, be it Gallican, Kyivan, Celtic or others, is entirely proper and necessary. It is part of our psychological make-up and so it is useless to pretend that it either doesn't exist, or that we must somehow strive to "overcome its limitations." We are always working and struggling from within our limitations. Those limitations define us as members of a group or nation.

Within Catholic circles this is known as "inculturation" - ie making Christ and his teachings part of the local culture. This is a direct result of the fact that the Apostles decreed that Gentile converts to the faith need not follow Jewish customs. But even earlier than that, it can be traced back to Pentecost which gave the message that the faith of Christ can be celebrated authentically in any and all cultures.

Ever since then, this is exactly what has happened wherever Christianity planted itself. Christianity is not like Islam which sought to impose a single Arabic culture on the world. Christianity rather wishes to baptise the already existing culture. Any custom that doesnt contradict Christian doctrine is actively incorporated into its practice.

A common example I often give is that of Coptic Christianity in Egypt, and how they continue the ancient practice of mumification. The ancient Egyptians did this to preserve the body so it could rise again and enter the afterlife. Coptic Christians do it so the body will be better able to resurrect on the day of Judgement. Same basic principle, but with a distinctly Christian twist.

So just as Europeans, Copts, Armenians, etc. inculturated Christ's teachings to the particular customs of their culture, so too will the Third World. Fr. Mitch Pacwa on EWTN Live one time said something interesting about this: namely that it would be very foolish and impractical to try to build huge Gothic cathedrals in the middle of Africa, but there are plenty of native architectural traditions from which the Church can build upon.

Only problem is that nowadays multiculturalism has perverted the concept.



Do we really want anything to do with Jews and Blacks?

Well the fact is that a more global perspective has and is emerging, and we must accept this fact. However, we must embrace a more pro-Folkish variation of that perspective - we respect the heritage of other peoples and they respect our heritage. I believe even de Benoist advocates something on these lines.