Rorate Caeli

"The real crisis facing the Church in the western world is a crisis of faith."

We live at a time that is broadly characterized by a subliminal relativism that penetrates every area of life. Sometimes this relativism becomes aggressive, when it opposes those who say that they know where the truth or meaning of life is to be found.

And we observe that this relativism exerts more and more influence on human relationships and on society. This is reflected, among other things, in the inconstancy and fragmentation of many people’s lives and in an exaggerated individualism. Many no longer seem capable of any form of self-denial or of making a sacrifice for others. Even the altruistic commitment to the common good, in the social and cultural sphere or on behalf of the needy, is in decline. Others are now quite incapable of committing themselves unreservedly to a single partner. People can hardly find the courage now to promise to be faithful for a whole lifetime; the courage to make a decision and say: now I belong entirely to you, or to take a firm stand for fidelity and truthfulness and sincerely to seek a solution to their problems.

Dear friends, in the exposure programme, analysis is followed by common reflection. This evaluation must take into account the whole of the human person, and this includes – not just implicitly but quite clearly – the person’s relationship to the Creator.

We see that in our affluent western world much is lacking. Many people lack experience of God’s goodness. They no longer find any point of contact with the mainstream churches and their traditional structures. But why is this? I think this is a question on which we must reflect very seriously. Addressing it is the principal task of the Pontifical Council for the New Evangelization. But naturally it is something that concerns us all. Allow me to refer here to an aspect of Germany’s particular situation. The Church in Germany is superbly organized. But behind the structures, is there also a corresponding spiritual strength, the strength of faith in the living God? We must honestly admit that we have more than enough by way of structure but not enough by way of Spirit. I would add: the real crisis facing the Church in the western world is a crisis of faith. If we do not find a way of genuinely renewing our faith, all structural reform will remain ineffective.

But let us return to the people who lack experience of God’s goodness. They need places where they can give voice to their inner longing. And here we are called to seek new paths of evangelization. Small communities could be one such path, where friendships are lived and deepened in regular communal adoration before God. There we find people who speak of these small faith experiences at their workplace and within their circle of family and friends, and in so doing bear witness to a new closeness between Church and society. They come to see more and more clearly that everyone stands in need of this nourishment of love, this concrete friendship with others and with the Lord. Of continuing importance is the link with the vital life-source that is the Eucharist, since cut off from Christ we can do nothing (cf. Jn 15:5).

Benedict XVI
September 24, 2011

Photo: Sta. Monica church, Rivas, Spain. Source.


  1. We know there is a real crisis in the Church when the Holy Father says things like:

    "the pope praised Luther for his "deep passion and driving force" in his beliefs."

  2. I love our Holy Father, but these are words, words, words, without meaning, in a man who is usually precise, this is surprising, it's almost as if he doesn't believe them himself.

    Let's say frankly that Luther was a heretical ex-monk who married a Nun. He had "farting matches" with the devil, and was clearly psychologically disturbed. Why is the Catholic Church bending over backwards for such a crack, heretical sect?

  3. Anonymous2:53 AM

    I see pitch forks.

  4. Anonymous5:34 AM

    True confused Catholics... condemned and embraced relativism simultaneously

  5. ... and the economic decline/crisis is an extension of this spiritual drama...

  6. Anonymous3:20 PM

    The Catholic Church is not bending over backwards for Luther. Luther, sadly, is a cultural hero in Germany -- not because he was a heretic but precisely because he was passionate, etc. The Pope is pointing out those characteristics of Luther which can be praised in the abstract (i.e. fortitude, etc.) and then can be redirected toward serving God. He is not praising Luther for his doctrines, but rather is pointing out that what the German people like about Luther is his passion and conviction. Well, if they like that, then they ought to drum up some passion and conviction in themselves concerning the need for God in their world. This isn't about the reformation; most Germans have no idea what Luther's doctrines were. Rather, they just know that he stood for something. In Germany, to stand for something is considered impolite, largely because Germans are still wary of anybody who claims to stand on principle, since that is what Hitler claimed. However, they still revere Luther's zeal even though they have little idea what he was zealous about. The Pope is inviting them to see zeal as a good thing when it is directed toward God. He is _not_ claiming that we should praise Luther's doctrines. This is an exercise in rhetoric on his part, not in forensics.

  7. There are many things about Luther which are praiseworthy and can serve as a pedestal with which to attack the frivolities of modern Lutheranism which has almost nothing to do with the organization founded by Luther and Melanchthon.

  8. What is the thing in the picture? St Spork's Parish Church?

  9. Anonymous11:33 PM

    Everyone has something good in them. Ok.

    The problem is is that jis emboldens Protestants. They can now saw, "Hey, even the pope praised Luther! I'm fine staying just what I am, a Protestant."

  10. Ralph Roister-Doister5:52 AM

    Wow, looks like one of those stylish kitchen knife holders on the Chef Tony infomercials. I wonder if Bed Bath & Beyond carries them.

  11. Anonymous4:34 PM

    The thing in the photograph is a building designed by Frank Gehry after a memorable summer spent in a Jawa sand-crawler.

  12. Anonymous7:30 PM

    "Kirk to Enterprise."

    "Spock here."

    "We've encountered the alien structure. Our tricorders are unable to determine the rationale behind it. Have you had any luck with the ship's sensors?"

    "There is a similar obscuration of the sensors here, Captain. Perhaps it would be best for me to beam down to your location."

    "I don't think that will be necessary, Commander. Your Vulcan logic might be so baffled that you could revert back to your primitive Romulan nature and kill us all. Three to beam up. Energize."


  13. How is it that all modernist works in whatever artistic field end up suggesting Star Trek? Modernism and the 1960's are conjoined twins.

  14. Anonymous6:11 AM

    I see a canon of sorts. A loose canon.


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