Thursday, October 09, 2008
TEACHING FAITH FROM A SECULAR PERSPECTIVE
Sandro Magister reports:
ROMA, October 8, 2008 – In his homily at the opening Mass for the synod of bishops dedicated to the Sacred Scriptures, Benedict XVI recalled that from the first proclamation of the Gospel, "Christian communities arose that at first were flourishing, but later disappeared and are now remembered only in the history books."
And he added:
"Could not the same thing happen in our time? Nations that once were rich in faith and vocations are now losing their identity, under the harmful and destructive influence of a certain modern culture."
It can be guessed that, among these nations that once were exuberantly Christian but are no longer so, Pope Joseph Ratzinger is thinking of Canada, and more precisely of Québec.
Benedict XVI entrusted to the archbishop of Québec, Cardinal Marc Ouellet, the task of introducing and closing the work of the synod with two general addresses. And Cardinal Ouellet is one of the best-informed and most critical witnesses of the metamorphosis that over a few decades has turned the highly Catholic Québec back into missionary territory.
Québec is Canada's largest province by area, five times bigger than Italy, but with fewer than 8 million inhabitants. They speak French, and until the middle of the last century they preserved a strong Catholic character. The rivers and villages there bear the names of saints, there are many churches, and almost all of the schools and hospitals were the result of religious initiatives. Vocations also flourished.
But beginning in the 1960's, all of this collapsed. Without fanfare, a "quiet revolution" put Québec in the vanguard of secularization. Today less than 5 percent of Catholics go to Mass on Sundays. There are few religious marriages, most funerals are civil, and baptisms are increasingly rare.
And the laws ratify this state of affairs in the name of a secularist fundamentalism that has gone so far, this year, as to impose on all state and private schools in Québec – the first instance of its kind in the world – an obligatory course on "ethics and religious culture," with teachers who are forbidden to present themselves as believers and members of the community of faith. The course gives information on the major world religions and discusses controversial topics, like abortion and euthanasia, with the obligation of taking no position one way or another.
"It is the dictatorship of relativism applied beginning in elementary school," Cardinal Ouellet charges. But his is an isolated voice. 80 percent of families continue to ask for the teaching of the Catholic religion, but only one, Loyola High School in Montréal, has appealed to the supreme court against the obligatory course now imposed by law.
Georges Leroux, the philosopher at the University of Montréal who designed the new course, maintains that "the time has come to think about the transmission of religious culture no longer as faith, but as history, as the universal heritage of humanity."
Read the rest...
In the article Cardinal Ouellet says:
No European nation has ever adopted such a radical approach, which revolutionizes the convictions and religious freedom of the citizens. This leads to the profound dissatisfaction and sense of powerlessness that many families feel toward an omnipotent state that seems not to fear the influence of the Church, and that can therefore impose its law without any higher influence. The most scandalous fate is reserved for the private Catholic schools, which find themselves forced on account of government subsidies to marginalize their own confessional teaching in favor of the course imposed by the state everywhere and at all levels.
The reform imposed by the law subjects the religions to state control and interests, putting an end to the religious freedoms acquired for generations. This law does not serve the common good, and cannot be imposed without being perceived as a violation of religious freedom by the citizens. It would not be reasonable to retain it as it has been issued, because it would create a narrow secularist legalism that excludes religion from the public sphere.
So it would appear that one of the most Catholic places on the North American continent is leading the charge against the faith, and it's right next door to America. It began in the 1960s. With Vatican II? Or perhaps with Humanae Vitae?
Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us!