FREIBURG, September 27, 2011 ( – In a talk at the Freiburg Concert Hall in Germany regarding the decline of religious practice, Pope Benedict VI warned against the worldly character of many Western Catholic charities. The Pope’s comments appear related in part to revelations in recent years of Western bishops’conference development agencies financially supporting pro-abortion and in many other ways anti-Catholic “social justice” organizations.

“For some decades now we have been experiencing a decline in religious practice and we have been seeing substantial numbers of the baptized drifting away from church life. This prompts the question: should the Church not change?” began Pope Benedict XVI on Sunday, in one of his final addresses during his trip to his native Germany. “Must [the Church] not adapt her offices and structures to the present day, in order to reach the searching and doubting people of today?”, he continued in what is being touted as one of the most significant addresses during his journey. 

Change it must, said the Pope, but not in the direction of the world but precisely the opposite. 

The Pope spoke of a negative “tendency” in which the Church “becomes self-satisfied, settles down in this world, becomes self-sufficient and adapts herself to the standards of the world.” He said however, “In order to accomplish her true task adequately, the Church must constantly renew the effort to detach herself from her tendency towards worldliness and once again to become open towards God.”

Benedict XVI pointed to secular persecution of the Church as having a liberating and purifying effect.  “Secularizing trends – whether by expropriation of Church goods, or elimination of privileges or the like – have always meant a profound liberation of the Church from forms of worldliness,” he said.

“Once liberated from material and political burdens and privileges, the Church can reach out more effectively and in a truly Christian way to the whole world,” he said.

The Pope drew a connection in this context to the work of Catholic charities which have been under scrutiny in Western nations for their worldly character. Pope Benedict noted “the Church’s charitable activity also needs to be constantly exposed to the demands of due detachment from worldliness, if it is not to wither away at the roots in the face of increasing erosion of its ecclesial character.”

t is time once again to discover the right form of detachment from the world, to move resolutely away from the Church’s worldliness,” said the Pope.

See Benedict’s complete talk here


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