Sunday, 29 May 2011

The Silent Apostasy

Robert Cardinal Sarah

Rorate Caeli reports on an address by Cardinal Robert Sarah, President of the Pontifical Council "Cor Unam" to the General Assembly of Caritas International. He speaks of the West now experiencing a serious moral regression and "silent apostasy" (cf Christifideles Laici, no. 34) and how the Holy Father has considered this religious indifference as the major challenge of the Church today.

I thought the address was particularly notable in that it brought to a close the same conference where Fr Timothy Radcliffe, the former General Secretary of the Dominicans known for his liberal opinions, was banned from giving a keynote address and replaced with Cardinal Bertone, the Secretary of State for the Holy See. Recently, the former Caritas General Secretary, Lesley-Anne Knight was not allowed to stand for re-election by the Vatican.

Cardinal Sarah says:
It is important to understand that our charitable organisations are located within the Church and not alongside her. The Church cannot be considered as a partner of Catholic organisations. They are the organisations that take part in her mission.
This seems to point to the religious indifference and creeping apostasy not being limited to the secular world but something insidious within the Church. So called "catholic" organisations so often seem to regard themselves as lobby groups with an aim to change the teaching of the church, as though the deposit of the Faith were some sort of government legislation that could be changed if only enough people would complain. Not part of the Church but in opposition ('loyal' or otherwise).

This idea of organisations bearing the Catholic name but seeing themselves alongside the Church instead of within Her is my experience of Catholic schools in this country. In fact, I have often heard it said that the school and not the parish as become the locus of the Faith in any given area. How this can be when the vast majority of our schools have only a tiny minority of students, let alone teachers, who actually practice the Faith (or are even Catholics)? Our schools may be good educationally but I see no evidence of strong faith or that the softly-softly approach brings people to faith. It often appears that the school sees itself not as part of the parish but as alongside it or even as the main focus of the Faith with the parish as an attachment to the school. I recently have had terrible difficulties with some school governors making an attempt to control what goes on in the parish church, completely outside the remit of any governing body.
Here it is that so many "Catholic" organisations gradually creep away from the mantle of the Church and distance themselves from the teachings of the Church in order to make themselves more acceptable to the secular world - or in the case of a school, more acceptable to their constituents - non-practising families or those with an agenda not in full accord with the teachings of the Church.


Anonymous said...

This is one reason why I attend a small parish with no school.

Jacobi said...


We have to persist with "Catholic" schools until, in the fullness of time, they get it right again.

Is a return to Sunday School not the answer?
This presupposes a parish with concerned parents, not difficult, and an orthodox priest, firmly in charge of instruction, looking after that parish alone and not two others as well!

What we don't want is to have the instruction run in the absence of the priest by a set of retired "Spirit of V II" types.

What I am also saying is that we have too many parishes for the dwindling number of Catholics and priests. As a city dweller admittedly, I can drive to perhaps 8 parishes inside 15 minutes.

I rest my case!

Chris said...

Yes I recognise the scene. Re teacher who has seen the decline of the Catholic identity of our secondary schools. Everybody pretending that there is n't a problem and the diocesan inspectors will come along and tell us what an excellent Catholic ethos we have and lovely gospel values. Sadly I am seriously considering sending my children to a school other than the local Catholic one even though we would be one of the very few practising Catholic families.