Rorate Caeli

Life after the long winter of "atheist oppression"

Twenty years ago, after the long winter of Communist dictatorship, your Christian communities began once more to express themselves freely, when, through the events triggered by the student demonstration of 17 November 1989, your people regained their freedom.

Yet you are well aware that even today it is not easy to live and bear witness to the Gospel. Society continues to suffer from the wounds caused by atheist ideology, and it is often seduced by the modern mentality of hedonistic consumerism amid a dangerous crisis of human and religious values and a growing drift towards ethical and cultural relativism. In this context there is an urgent need for renewed effort throughout the Church so as to strengthen spiritual and moral values in present-day society. ...

Catholic schools should foster respect for the human person; attention should also be given to the pastoral care of young people outside the school environment, without neglecting other groups of the faithful. Christ is for everyone! I sincerely hope that there will be a growing accord with other institutions, both public and private. It is always worth repeating that the Church does not seek privileges, but only to be able to work freely in the service of all, in the spirit of the Gospel.

Dear Brothers and Sisters, with gratitude to the Lord, we shall be marking a number of anniversaries this year: the 280th anniversary of the canonization of Saint John Nepomuk, the 80th anniversary of the dedication of Saint Vitus’ Cathedral, and the 20th anniversary of the canonization of Saint Agnes of Bohemia, the event which heralded your country’s deliverance from atheist oppression. All these are good reasons for persevering in the journey of faith with joy and enthusiasm, counting on the maternal intercession of Mary, Mother of God, and all your Patron Saints. Amen!
Benedict XVI
September 26, 2009


  1. With all due respect to His Holiness may I suggest yet another important requirement - that of the formation of young people in the Faith according to what the Church has always held, taught and professed to be true and objective truths including not only the Gospel but the Commandments of both God and His Church. Only in this way, I submit, will the spirit of relativism be overcome.

  2. John McFarland8:54 PM

    Mr. Haley,

    If that's what His Holiness had wanted to say, he could readily have said it.

    But he didn't say it, and so it seems fair to conclude that he didn't want to say it.

    Note this language in particular:

    "It is always worth repeating that the Church does not seek privileges, but only to be able to work freely in the service of all, in the spirit of the Gospel."

    The logical thing for him to have said was, more or less, "to work freely in the service of all, by evangelizing them."

    He did not say that. He said something that could by construed as meaning that, but which could more naturally be understood to mean: we're working in the service of more than the members of the Church, and on a different mission to those non-Catholics than evangelizing them.

    And what is that mission? The one he talks about all the time: adding some moral tone and self-sacrificing element to Europe and the world.

    But what does it profit the non-Catholic world if it obtains all these moral and spiritual goodies, and all its individual members go down into Hell because they have not believed, repented and been baptized?

    If the Holy Father were to die tomorrow, and on his tombstone were written St. Paul's words


    would it be a blessing on his pontificate -- or a curse?

  3. Mr. McFarland is again only interested in things Pope Benedict didn't say, and doesn't trouble himself to take to heart what he in fact said.

  4. Anonymous4:43 PM

    John McFarland, your all-too-predictable and tiresome comments here are calumnies against our Holy Father. Looking for heresies under every rock, and failing to find them, you are reduced to inferring it in bad faith. You are acting like a hysterical fishwife who thinks her husband saying "your hair looks nice" really means "your ass looks fat".

    Benedict's evangelism to Europe is precisely calibrated to counter the prevailing opinions there:

    (a) that the Church's faith is merely a fig leaf, while her primary interest has always been secular power and rent-seeking;

    (b) that European notions of the commonweal and the dignity of the human person are not rooted in any absolute or divine truth, but are intrinsically either self-evident deductions from empirical observation, or else creations of the popular will;

    (c) that Christianity is primarily a European ethnic ritual and the Church's role is to be a historical-reenactment troupe for same (having the form of holiness but denying the power thereof);

    (d) that the Church's social role is merely to assist in enacting the state's agenda, and not to transform lives by showing people Christ.

    Most everything he has said in a European forum directly addresses one or more of these mistakes, mistakes which may be obvious to you but not to the academies of Europe. Benedict is making the argument as to why Europe should listen to the Church at all; the argument would not be needed if Europe already accepted her authority, so it can't start with an appeal to authority. It must start somewhere else.

  5. John McFarland3:41 PM


    Your first paragraph is rather closer to "hysteria" than anything I've written.

    Like most of the denizens of this blog, you assume that the Pope's remarks all somehow track back to a sound basis. When you are told otherwise, your initial reaction is angrily to dismiss the claim out of hand. Those of you who then actually think a bit about the matter realize that their assumptions turn out to be not so easy to defend. But that only makes them angrier, and the name-calling and imputations of bad faith and calumny begin.

    I have generally treated the lot of you better than that, and think that I am entitled to the same treatment.

    As for the merits:

    The basic point is that the conciliar Church's preoccupation with improving the world is very hard to square with the spirit and the letter of the Faith. If you do not recognize that truth, there is really no point in our talking.

    It is of course an unpleasant truth for those of a conservative bent, since the conciliar popes have been ears deep in the business of (or at least in talking a great deal about) improving the world. So those of a conservative bent, when faced with that unpleasant truth, generally start to bob, weave, quibble and/or start saying unpleasant things.

    The Church's job is the evangelization of souls, and the salvation of the souls evangelized. To the extent that, in accordance with God's inscrutable will, it is more successful than less in its job, the Europe of both those bound for heaven and those bound for hell will be a better place. But making Europe a better place is marginal to the Church's mission, and of infinitely less importance.

    So from the conservative perspective, the conciliar preoccupation with the world needs an explantion that refutes what seems obvious: that the conciliar authorities have to a considerable degree turned away from their proper duties in an effort to achieve some sort of accommodation with the world, which accommodation involves the Church's claiming that it can help shape up the world.

    Can you provide that refutory explanation?

  6. Anonymous3:24 PM

    "Like most of the denizens of this blog, you assume that the Pope's remarks all somehow track back to a sound basis."

    It seems only reasonable to me that Catholics should assume that the Pope is, in fact, Catholic. If you hold the contrary position, then...?

    "The basic point is that the conciliar Church's preoccupation with improving the world is very hard to square with the spirit and the letter of the Faith."

    I can agree with your statement to a limited extent; there is a faction in the Church whose preoccupation is secular. (I would argue it has always been thus, albeit in different guise in each age.)

    Evangelism is the Church's job, but a necessary part of evangelism is to demonstrate the love of Christ for humanity by, you know, loving actual humans and meeting them where they are, not simply thundering platitudes at them about how they may not be among the elect.

    Working to improve the lot of humans, being good stewards of God's creation, and so forth, are all avenues by which we can (and should) evangelize: we must make it plain that we do these things because the Earth and the creatures in it belong to God. If some have failed to connect improving the world to evangelism, the answer is not to stop improving the world, but to make the connection for them.

    Understanding that not all will be saved (by their own choice) does not exempt us from the obligations to love our neighbors as ourselves. Dwelling on the election of others is off-putting and anti-evangelistic.