VATICAN CITY (LifeSiteNews) — A cardinal of the Roman Curia has praised a new book by a fellow Jesuit that proposes “a new Christianity” that cannot be centered in Europe or Rome.
Canadian Jesuit Cardinal Michael Czerny spoke at a December 2 book launch at the John Paul II Institute for Family and Marriage for Fr. Tomáš Halík’s The Afternoon of Christianity: The Courage to Change. In his comments, Czerny called for a decentralized Christianity.
Citing the 2011 “Pew Forum Study on Christian Population,” a study of the demographics of Christians worldwide, Czerny quoted its conclusion that “Christianity is so far flung that no single continent or region can indisputably claim to be the center of global Christianity.” The cardinal agreed and stated that he thought people in Europe and Rome would find it difficult to fully accept.
“Halík, I think, is trying to equip us to become at home throughout the world in our Christianity without having our roots, and bases, and points of reference, and instincts rooted here in Europe, rooted here in Rome,” Czerny said.
Czerny contrasted Halík’s position with that of Catholic historian Christopher Dawson. Dawson wrote, “Every human culture must possess some spiritual dynamic, which provides the energy necessary for civilization. It is the religious impulse which supplies the cohesive force which unifies a society and a culture. A society which has lost its religion becomes sooner or later a society which has lost its culture.” Czerny argued that Dawson’s position was out of touch with reality.
Likewise, Msgr. Armando Matteo, appointed by Pope Francis in 2021 as Adjunct Under-secretary for the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith, said he agreed with Halík in the central thesis of his book, namely, that the age of Christianity of in the West is “over” and that we need a “new Christianity.”
“I have already said that I agree with the central thesis of his text, which is this: It is time for Christianity to overcome itself,” Matteo said. “I refer only to Western Christianity with the widespread image it carries and the related pastoral mentality. It no longer works; insisting on it is simply counterproductive. The age of Christianity is really over.”
“As Christians we have to do something; we have to give a new image to Christianity, a different image,” the priest argued, declaring the Church must employ “a new pastoral mentality.”
The author was present at the gathering at the Lateran University. Claiming that the sexual abuse crises of the past several decades are evidence of the failure of an outdated, overly traditional Christianity, Fr. Tomáš Halík praised Pope Francis and the “synodal process” for seeing the crises as “not a failure of some individuals” but as “just a symptom” of “a sickness in the whole system.” Halík called for a reshaping of the whole system [sic] of Christianity in order to move forward.
“There is something wrong with the whole system; we must change the whole system,” he declared.
Comparing the sexual abuse crises in the Church with the wounds of Christ, the casting off of the old Christianity with the death of Christ, and a new Christianity with His resurrection, Halík said, “We shouldn’t seek the living Christ among the empty tombs of [the] past.”
The future of the Church lies with “seekers” who, he said, combine some degree of faith in God with doubt and questions, which he thought was “not such a bad thing.” In contrast, Halík says simple belief was extreme and fanatical.
“Faith without the difficult questions, without some honest doubt can just be fanaticism, fundamentalism, bigotry,” Halík argued. “But … doubts without this basic trust… could be just cynicism, pragmatism. They need each other.”
These calls for a new Christianity fail to acknowledge that sexual abuse crises that have plagued the Church for decades are a direct result of the acceptance of homosexuality within the ranks of the clergy and the rejection of the Church’s timeless teachings regarding sexual morality. These issues have stood front and center in the “Synodal Way” of the German bishops, and rejection of the Church’s teachings reached a new level when the Belgian bishops published a “rite of blessing” for same-sex couples. In the United States, the McCarrick scandal was predominantly a series of systematic homosexual rape, and support for LGBT ideology seems to have become a condition for elevation to the College of Cardinals.
All the while, the fact that Traditional Latin Mass communities and parishes are flourishing is often maligned or ignored, or rather, seems to have prompted a desperate attempt to keep the “old Christianity” from rising from the dead.
These calls to end the Christianity of the last two millennia also contradict the reflections of Cardinal Robert Sarah, who recently warned of an “implicit bias against Christianity” in Western secular culture. The cardinal called on Catholics to rediscover the sacraments as “the principal means of grace that Jesus established in his Church.” Sarah also encouraged a more sacred celebration of the Mass, in which silence is given due place, allowing souls “to draw closer to Jesus Christ, to return to his word, and to the simplicity of the faith in his self-revelation.”
In contrast to the calls for a new Christianity voiced by Halík, Czerny, and Matteo, Sarah declared, “When Christians forget why they are Christian, the community must fall into decline. They forget the Gospel and lose sight of their purpose.”
“We are all at war whether we recognize it or not,” Sarah warned, “It is good that all of us should become aware of that fact and make sure every day that we fight on the side of God.”