Pope knows hope and truth can flow from crisis of faith

For Christians, the current season of Advent focuses the gaze on that part of our innermost selves that longs for wholeness.

And it does so with a vocabulary that speaks, not of dehumanizing daydreaming for the impossible, but of a confidence that truth, healing and justice are possible and not merely illusions or delusions.

During his 2011 pilgrimages Pope Benedict XVI addressed the widespread experience of crisis in our society and how church, itself marked by much disillusionment, might renew its call to generate energising hope. Some will disagree with the Pope’s analysis – but, for the integrity of their own arguments, critics need to know what they are disagreeing with.

Firstly, Pope Benedict is clear that both church and State are experiencing a time of profound crisis. As prison and psychiatric facilities fill up, many in society are paying a high price for this mix of social, personal and economic fragility marked by “the inconstancy and fragmentation of many people’s lives and in an exaggerated individualism”.

In terms of church, he is quite open that religious belief in general and the Catholic Church in particular are in a period of structural, mission and intellectual crisis.

But the Pope sees this as a crisis, not primarily of structures but of faith. During his visit to Germany in September, he said that some Christians see “the church merely as an institution, without letting it touch their hearts, or letting the faith touch their hearts.”

If they focus on just the outward form of church, then it will be rejected by those people “when their ‘dream church’ fails to materialize”.

Second, in response to this situation, Pope Benedict is clear that the Church should not seek to regain its power in European societies. Indeed, loss of church goods or privilege can actually be a great liberation for church. After all, it is not there to compete for status with other power blocs in society. [more]


Irish Times