“ From today's crisis will emerge a Church that has lost much . It will become small and will have to start again more or less from the beginnings. She will no longer be able to inhabit most of the buildings she had built during her prosperity. And as the number of her faithful will decrease, she will also lose a large part of the social privileges ... but despite all these changes that one can presume, the Church will find again and with all the energy what is essential to her , which has always been its center: faith in the One and Trinitarian God, in Jesus Christ, the Son of God made man, with the Holy Spirit who assists us until the end of time. It will reappear through small groups, movements and a minority who will put faith and prayer at the center of their life and will again experience the sacraments as divine service and not as a problem of liturgical structure . It will be a more spiritual Church, which will not arrogate to itself a political mandate flirting here with the left and there with the right. She will do this with difficulty. In fact, the process of crystallization and clarification will make her poor, make her become a Church of the little ones , the process will be long and painful ... but after the trial of its divisions, from an internalized and simplified church will emerge a great one. strength.
Gustav Klimt, ′ ′ Flower Garden ", 1906.
Men who will live in a totally programmed world will experience indescribable solitude. If they have completely lost their sense of God, they will feel the full horror of their poverty. And then they will discover the small community of believers as something totally new: they will discover it as a hope for themselves, the answer they had always sought in secret … It seems certain to me that very difficult times are happening. to prepare for the Church. His real crisis has barely begun. It must settle accounts with great upheavals. But I am also quite sure of what will remain in the end: not the Church of political worship… but the Church of faith. It is certain that it will no longer be the dominant social force insofar as it was until a short time ago. But the Church will experience a new flowering and will appear as the house of man, where to find life and hope beyond death ”.
Joseph Ratzinger, “Faith and the Future”, Paris, Mame, 1971
Cardinal Martini: The Last Interview
This interview is the testament of Cardinal Martini. Many of us these days are discovering - or rediscovering - how much Monsignor Martini is an authentic and great servant of the Lord. The path of his life follows the central furrow of the Gospel: listening to the Word of God; in all circumstances, give primacy to love; integrate rather than exclude; work tirelessly on your own conversion ...
Interview made by Father Georg Sporschill, sj and Federica Racine :
How do you see the situation of the Church?
“The Church is tired, in well-being Europe and in America. Our culture has aged, our Churches are large, our religious houses are empty and the bureaucratic apparatus of the Church is increasing, our rites and our clothes become mired in pomp. And yet all this says something about what we have become […] Well-being weighs… We are like the rich young man who sadly left when Jesus called him to be his disciple. I know very well that we cannot leave everything we have with a lapel of the sleeve. However, we could try to remain free human beings like Bishop Romero and the Jesuit martyrs of El Salvador were. Where are the heroes among us from whom we could draw inspiration? Under no circumstances should the chains of the institution hold us back and limit our actions. "
Who can help the Church today?
“Father Karl Rahner liked to use the image of the embers hiding under the ashes. I see in the Church today so much ashes on the embers that a strong feeling of helplessness often rises in me. How to free the embers of all this ash that hides it, in order to rekindle the flame of love? Before anything else, we must seek out this embers. Where are generous souls like the good Samaritan? Who has the faith of the Roman centurion? Who has the enthusiasm of John the Baptist? Who has the daring of novelty like Paul? Who is faithful like Mary of Magdala? I advise the Pope and the bishops to seek twelve people off the beaten track to place them in decisive places. Human beings who are close to the poorest, surrounded by young people and ready to experience the new. We need a dialogue with people with a burning heart, so that the Spirit can spread everywhere ”.
What are the means of fighting against the fatigue of the Church?
“I recommend three very powerful ones. The first is conversion : the Church must recognize her errors and must walk a radical path of change, starting with the Pope and the bishops. The scandals of pedophilia push us to embark on a path of conversion. The questions on sexuality and on all topics related to bodily realities are an example. These are important to everyone and even, sometimes they become too important, to the point that one should wonder if people still listen to the advice of the Church on sexual matters. In this area, is the Church still a benchmark authority or only a caricature for the media? The second way is the Word of God . Vatican Council II returned the Bible to Catholics. […] Only the one who perceives this Word in his heart will participate in the rebirth of the Church and will know how to respond with discernment to the questions that will be put to him. The Word of God is simple and it seeks as a companion a heart that listens […]. Neither the clergy nor canon law can substitute for human interiority. All the external rules, the laws, the dogmas are given to us to enlighten the conscience and to help in the discernment of the spirits.
Who are the sacraments for?
This is the third remedy towards healing. The sacraments are not an instrument of discipline, but a help for all those who walk and are tested during their life. Do we carry the sacraments to those who are in search of new strength? I am thinking of all divorced people, blended couples, extended families. They need special protection. The Church supports the indissolubility of marriage. It is a grace when a marriage and a family succeed […]. Our attitude towards extended families will determine the coming together of the generation of sons to the Church. Has a woman been abandoned by her husband and does she find a new companion who takes care of her and her three sons? This second love succeeds. Let this family be discriminated against, and contact will be lost, not only with the mother but even with her sons. If parents feel like strangers in the Church or do not feel supported, the Church will lose the next generation. Before Communion, we pray: “Lord, I am not worthy…”. But who knows if he is worthy? […] Love is grace. Love is a gift. The question of access to communion for divorced and remarried should be able to be overcome.
How can the Church find a way to give sacramental support to those in complex family situations? What are you doing personally?
“The Church is two hundred years behind. How come she doesn't move? Are we afraid? Are we lacking in courage? In any case, faith is the foundation of the Church. Faith, confidence, courage. I, who am old and sick, depend on the help of others. The good people around me make me perceive something of the Love. This love is stronger than the feeling of mistrust that from time to time I perceive in the behavior of the Church in Europe. Only love triumphs over weariness. God is love. I have one last question to ask you: what can you do for the Church? "
Containment revealed "some spiritual illiteracy"
considers Bishop Grech
"Spiritual illiteracy", "clericalism", "immature faith", Mgr Mario Grech, new secretary general of the Synod of Bishops, takes a very critical look at the attitude of many Catholics during the Covid-19 crisis, in a long interview granted to the Civiltà Cattolica, published on October 14, 2020. For him, the Church must learn from confinement by changing its “pastoral models” and rehabilitating the “domestic Church”.
The former president of the Bishops' Conference of Malta from 2013 to 2016 was appointed in October 2019 under-secretary general of the Synod of Bishops and then secretary in September. As such, he is notably charged by Pope Francis with the preparation of the synod on synodality which should be held in 2022. “During the pandemic, a certain clericalism appeared. [On social networks], we have witnessed a certain degree of exhibitionism and pietism which is more a matter of magic than of the expression of a mature faith ”, laments Bishop Grech in the interview given to Civiltà Cattolica . The Maltese bishop describes a Church which has not always been up to the occasion and which has been torn apart over the question of the impossibility of accessing the sacraments.
“Some have even said that the life of the Church has been interrupted! And it's really amazing. In the situation which prevented the celebration of the sacraments, we did not realize that there were other ways of experiencing God, ”he regrets, adding that the fact“ that many priests and lay people have entered into crisis because we suddenly found ourselves in the situation of not being able to celebrate the Eucharist coram populo is in itself very significant ”.
Going even further, he finds it “curious that many people have complained that they cannot receive Communion and celebrate funerals in church, but not so much as they have worried about how to be reconciled to God and neighbor, to listen to and celebrate the Word of God and to live a life of service ”.
"The Eucharist is not the only possibility that a Christian has to meet Jesus"
Recalling however that the Eucharist is the “source and summit of Christian life”, Bishop Grech nevertheless underlines that it is not the only possibility available to Christians to meet Jesus. And to quote Paul VI who taught that “in the Eucharist, the presence of Christ is“ real ”, not by exclusion, as if the others were not“ real ””.
For the prelate, it is therefore “worrying that someone feels lost outside the Eucharistic context”. This shows “an ignorance of other ways of engaging in the mystery”, “a certain spiritual illiteracy”, but also “that the current pastoral practice is inadequate”.
He then analyzes it as being "very probable that, in the recent past, our pastoral activity has sought to lead to the sacraments and not to lead - through the sacraments - to the Christian life".
"A suicide if, after the pandemic, we return to the same pastoral models"
In the wake of Pope Francis, the new secretary general of the Synod of Bishops, believes that the coronavirus pandemic must become an opportunity for the Church and offer it "a moment of renewal". “It will be suicide if, after the pandemic, we return to the same pastoral models that we have practiced so far,” he says.
Moreover, the crisis made it possible, according to him, to discover "a new ecclesiology, perhaps even a new theology, and a new ministry". First, she confirmed that service to the sick and the poor was an effective way for Christians to live their faith and “to reflect a Church present in today's world, and no longer a“ sacristy Church ”. , withdrawn from the streets, or content to project the sacristy into the street ”.
Then, confinement should allow families to seize their vocation and develop their own “potential”. He affirms in this sense that the crisis must lead to “rehabilitating the domestic Church and giving it more space”. “Living the Church within our families” constitutes, for the Maltese bishop, a “valid premise of the new evangelization”. He insists: “If the domestic Church fails, the Church cannot exist. If there is no domestic Church, the Church has no future! ".
The domestic Church, victim of historical clericalism?
The former bishop of Gozo (Malta) believes that this notion of the domestic Church, however highlighted by the Second Vatican Council, was undoubtedly the victim of perverse clericalism. He traces this "negative turn" in the conception of the domestic Church to the fourth century, "when the sacralization of priests and bishops took place, to the detriment of the common priesthood of baptism"., According to him, "the more the The institutionalization of the Church progressed, the more the nature and charisma of the family as a domestic Church diminished ”.
In the end, if “many are still not convinced” of the evangelizing charism of the family and of its “missionary creativity”, Bishop Grech is convinced of the contrary. The spouses are "capable of finding a new theological-catechetical language for the proclamation of the Gospel of the family". And to quote Pope Francis: "God has entrusted to the family not the responsibility of privacy as an end in itself, but the exciting project of making the world 'domestic'".