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A Dismal Prognosis from Cardinal Ratzinger

by Christopher A. Ferrara

In an interview with Zenit.org concerning his latest book, "God and the World", Cardinal Ratzinger offers a dismal prognosis for the future of the Catholic Church in Europe. But his solution to the current ecclesial crisis is just as dismal.

In the interview Ratzinger notes the obvious: that the Catholic Church is dwindling to the point of near-extinction in once-Catholic Europe: "[This] is nothing other than healthy realism, increasingly more [people] admit the decrease in the percentage of baptized Christians in todays Europe: in a city like Magdeburg, Christians are only 8% of the total population, including all Christian denominations. Statistical data shows irrefutable tendencies. In this connection, in certain cultural areas, there is a reduction in the possibility of identification between people and Church. We must take note, with simplicity and realism. The mass Church may be something lovely, but it is not necessarily the Churchs only way of being."

The "mass Church may be something lovely"? What a curious way of putting it, considering that the "mass Church" is something commanded by God Himself, who ordained that whole world would be Catholic: "Go forth and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost."

Yet Ratzinger admits that in the midst of the "springtime of Vatican II" the "mass Church" is becoming a thing of the past. And his solution? Not only dismal, but very strange indeed. According to Ratzinger: "The process of numerical reduction, which we are experiencing today, will also have to be addressed precisely by exploring new ways of openness to the outside, of new ways of participation by those who are outside the community of believers." What does he mean by "new ways of participation by those who are outside the community of believers"? You won't believe it, but here it is: "I have nothing against people who, though they never enter a church during the year, go to Christmas midnight Mass, or go on the occasion of some other celebration, because this is also a way of coming close to the light. Therefore, there must be different forms of involvement and participation."

So, the very head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith tells us that the solution to the dwindling Church is to allow "different forms of involvement and participation" for people who will only occasionally attend Mass to get "close to the light"as if the Church were some kind of health club which could offer limited memberships for those not up to regular exercise! When a leading Vatican cardinal can make statements like these in all seriousness, it is obvious that the current crisis in the Church has no parallel in history.

As we the faithful continue to suffer through the ecclesial disaster being presided over by the Churchmen of Vatican II, I would propose another solution to the "numerical reduction" of the Church (which used to be called apostasy): Why not roll back the ruinous reforms of Vatican II, restore the ancient Mass which converted millions and formed the basis of Western culture, and begin cultivating, instead of hounding and persecuting, manly, orthodox priests like Father Nicholas Gruner?