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Cardinal Wuerl: Synod strives to turn back ‘tsunami of secularism’


At the Synod of Bishops, which opens Oct. 7 with a papal Mass in St. Peter’s Square, some 250 prelates from around the world will meet for three weeks to talk and pray about the new evangelization.

Long after the bishops have expressed their diverse views, Pope Benedict XVI will have the last word in an authoritative document of reflections called a post-synodal apostolic exhortation. In the meantime, none of the participants has a better overview of the Vatican gathering, or of the questions it will examine, than Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl of Washington.

As the synod’s relator, Cardinal Wuerl has reviewed preliminary suggestions from bishops’ conferences around the world and synthesized them in a speech he will deliver in Latin at the first working session Oct. 8. The cardinal will address the assembly again 10 days later, once more in Latin, to summarize hundreds of speeches by his fellow bishops.

Initiated by Blessed John Paul II and eagerly embraced by his successor, the new evangelization is a project aimed at reviving Catholic faith in increasingly secular societies, especially the wealthiest Western nations.

For Cardinal Wuerl, it is also an opportunity to fulfill the goal for which Blessed John XXIII called the Second Vatican Council: a faithful presentation of Catholic teachings in a way “attractive to a very rapidly changing culture.”

It’s no mere coincidence, the cardinal said, that the synod overlaps with the 50th anniversary of the opening of the council, Oct. 11, which Pope Benedict has designated as the beginning of a special Year of Faith. Like Vatican II, the cardinal said, the synod will emphasize continuity with the church’s ancient traditions.

“There is a continuum of Catholic faith going all the way back to the creed, going all the way back to the apostles,” Cardinal Wuerl said. “That continuum is where we find the articulation of our faith.”

Although Vatican II was faithful to the church’s traditional doctrines, the cardinal said, implementation of the council’s teachings in the 1960s and 1970s coincided with a “current of secularism sweeping the Western world,” especially Europe. [More]





  1. Eric says:

    What happened to the Vatican II idea that mother Church would be in dialogue with the modern world, recognizing what was good in it, while point out areas where her gifts would be of benefit? Cardinal Wuerl sounds as if the secular world offers nothing of consequence or value. Surely there is some good that exists outside of the Church – maybe just a little bit?

  2. Florian says:

    Cardinal Wuerl is taking for granted — continuity — what the synod and the Donald himself ought to be documenting and/or explaining to the world and to the church. Today’s hierarchy differs significantly from the church leadership of the apostolic and subapostolic eras, the mediaeval period, even Trent and pre-Vatican II. Even if the bishops of all times and places possessed the very same sacramental powers, the understanding and manifestation of said powers is markedly different.

    Maybe it sounds good to some to say that the synod will stop “the tsunami of secularism.” But how? And with what? Point here is that the church’s understanding of “continuity” (as in “apostolic succession”) is not the same as either “integrity” or “mission,” both of which need to figure prominently in both discussion and action.

  3. Tom says:

    I thought Wuerl might say the tsunami of clericalism that coincided with the implementation of Vatican II. Clericalism is the greatest threat facing the church today.

  4. David says:

    Let’s pray that the Synod will remember the the ‘Word was made flesh and dwelt amongst us.’

  5. Tony says:

    Blessed John XXIII, pray for us

  6. Concerned says:

    This sounds like Vati-speak for justifying what they already know they are going to do – wipe out the intended purpose of Vatican II. There is no room for the Holy Spirit to guide. Vatican II was not inspired by the “secularism” of the time – it was inspired by the Holy Spirit and the desire to place responsibility on the people of God. The heirarchy feels so insecure that they will continue to wipe that out so that they will feel more powerful. I am praying that the Holy Spirit will influence some of those who gather to speak the truth. I pray that rather than making their own authoirity felt that some of the Bishops will decide that it is more important to follow the example of Jesus than to “puff” themselves up.

    • Jim says:

      As always, Concerned, complete speculation on your part about the motives of the hierarchy. Perhaps you yourself have a frustrated motive for power — in fact, I believe that is the case.


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