Pope Benedict XVI convenes bishops to confront ‘tsunami’ of secularism
Alessandro Speciale, Religion News Service, Oct 8, 2012
VATICAN CITY (RNS) Fifty years after the Second Vatican Council revolutionized life inside the Roman Catholic Church, hundreds of bishops from around the world are gathered in Rome to confront an external threat: a mounting tide of secularization.
The Synod of Bishops on “New Evangelization” brings together 262 top church leaders for a three-week summit at the Vatican, joined by lay experts and representatives of other Christian groups.
In a wide-ranging speech aimed at setting the tone for the bishops’ discussion, Washington Cardinal Donald Wuerl called on Christians to “overcome the syndrome of embarrassment” about their faith with a more assertive offense against the “tsunami of secular influence” that is sweeping away “marriage, family, the concept of the common good and objective right and wrong.”
The synod is timed to coincide with the anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965), which not only transformed the laity and liturgy of the church, but also reoriented the church’s engagement with the modern world.
While the council marked a moment of renewal and enthusiasm for the church, Wuerl said it was followed by decades of poor teaching and substandard worship—“aberrational liturgical practice,” he called it—that made “entire generations” of Catholics incapable of transmitting the faith to their children and to society at large, ushering in today’s secularized society.
Catholic leaders in the U.S. and Europe are also worried about a perceived rise of “aggressive” secularism, which they say wants to curtail the church’s role in the public sphere and reduce faith to a private exercise.