Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Benedict XVI on Europe's role in the future of Christianity

These are some inspiring exceprts from a two-part interview the Pope did with various TV channels. You can read part one along with part two of the interview at Zenit.org.

Within the course of the interview, Pope Benedict made clear his thoughts about the important role Europe will continue to have within the mission of the universal church:

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.
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.

Must a blow to those circles that insist that all our attention should be focused on the Third World, even at the expense of losing Europe.

And it seems that the man who started this whole charade, Philip Jenkins, is up to his old tricks with his newly released book The New Faces of Christianity: Believing the Bible in the Global South. According to the link, Jenkin's book about "Europe's coming religious struggle is scheduled for late 2007". Gee, I can hardly wait!

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