Most Catholics have never heard of Cardinal Martini, the former Archbishop of Milan, who died August 31. But, that didn't stop almost every major news organization in the Western world in carrying the story that he said the following before he died:
"The church is 200 years out of date. Why don't we rouse ourselves? Are we afraid?"and:
“Our culture has aged, our churches are big and empty and the church bureaucracy rises up; our rituals and our cassocks are pompous,”But is this true? Is the Catholic Church out of touch, out of date, and does it need to change? Well, let us consider the evidence.
The Church has suffered a great deal from clashing with modern cultural trends. Some have left the practice of the faith. Many criticize the Church as behind the times when it comes to sexuality, contraception, abortion, the role of women, bureaucracy, and esp. the scandals of individual Catholics (including leaders) who shame The Church.
It is true that when we look at the Church through the lens of modern western culture, that the Church is not trendy. Church leaders are not interested in changing doctrine to keep up with the times. It seems the Church is too old and stuck in her ways.
To be quite honest, this is a good thing.
What has our culture brought us:
- Abortion on-demand
- Culture of death
- More wars (in the 20th Century) than any other time in history
- More slavery TODAY than any other time in history.
- Divorce and broken families.
- Pornography and selfishness.
Why would we ever believe the modern way of thinking is really true?
Where is the beauty in this modern culture?
Here are just a few of the problems with believing the Church just needs to be updated to keep up with the culture:
- this belief makes the mistake of thinking our modern culture is good for us (see the list above). If it were so great, why do we have growing evil in our midst still?
- with this mindset we jettison all of the teachings of Christ, believing they are not applicable to us today.
- we make ourselves smarter than God. If we believe that the Church needs to change her ways, to line up with our thinking, then we are making ourselves the final judge of what is true and good = making ourselves a god.
The Church (you and I) needs to change the culture - not vice versa.
The world needs the Catholic Church. The Catholic Church has the answer for all the world's problems in the fullness of truth and the fullness of grace she offers to the world. The Church gives us a moral anchor, an answer to broken families, addiction, sin, war, violence, abuse, and all the other issues in our culture. More than ever the world needs the Catholic Church, if our society is to last. This answer is the personal relationship with Jesus that the Catholic Church offers to us all through the Sacramental grace, teachings of the Church, and in our own personal prayer we all need.
Jesus created one Church. We are that Church, the Catholic Church and if the world needs the Catholic Church, then the Church needs saints. We need to be holy if we are to change the world.
Time to do our part. Time to be holy. Time to change the world. This is what we all need to know - and do.
Without the Catholic Church - imagine where our culture would be today...