While criticising societies which are “man centered” instead of “God centered” the Vatican does exactly the same thing; only in a far more deceitful manner; by misrepresenting their own ways, as God’s ways, instead of being faithful to all the word of God; claiming to be godly as they rebel against God’s commandments and word.
“A world with or without God” 2012-10-01 Vatican Radio
In the third in our series of European Editorials, senior journalist at Vatican Radio’s Scandinavian Programme, Charlotta Smeds, looks at the broader implications of the recent “Courtyard of the Gentiles” meeting, which took place in Stockholm, Sweden, on the 13th and 14th of September.
“A world with or without God” – reflections after the Courtyard of the Gentiles in Sweden
The 12th “Courtyard of the Gentiles” took place in Sweden in mid-September. An encounter between believers and non-believers on the theme: A World with or without God, the event brought together people from the worlds of Swedish culture and science, along with representatives of religions and atheists.
Sweden is often called a “post-Christian” country – one in which, according to statistics, secularization has gained more ground, and where God has had to step aside – a country in which reign “human rights” but not “the law of God.”
A country, Sweden, in which the choice of where to give birth to a son, and when, is part of the logic of rights, along with the right to “have” a “flawless” child and discard one during pregnancy if it is not. It is a country in which the Ministry of Education forbids priests to say, “God bless you!” to students at the end of the school year; in which every politician (except one) in the parliament voted against the freedom of conscience for healthcare workers. A country in which are copied the same rites of the sacraments – with the only difference that every last trace of God is excluded. It is a country in which you do not take the place of university president because in your résumé you have written that you are a believer.
According to statistics, God is not important to the Swedes.
On the contrary, He is. Sweden is not indifferent to God. Anyone who lives there as a believer knows it, and meets amazement, curiosity and even diffidence when he or she declares it. Those who experienced the Courtyard of the Gentiles in Stockholm know it, as well. It was with genuine fervor that participants spoke of belief and the role of religion in society.
The major contribution of the Courtyard of the Gentiles was to bring into open debate a topic, the public discussion of which is considered politically and culturally incorrect in Sweden. Not only: the two-day meeting was broadcast on state television in full (6 hours), twice. The openness of all participants to treat questions surrounding the theme with a personal touch, focusing more on the question of belief than non-belief, was evident. The halls were filled with people who listened for hours in silence, complaining in the end only that there was too little time. One thing that came to light, and on which there was agreement, was that radical laïcité (or, if you will, “secular” fundamentalism) is not less dangerous than religious fundamentalism.
There is an enormous difference between a society with God and one without God. The society without God wants to put man at the center: a man who, in the face of life’s vicissitudes, desperately seeks control. On the other hand, the society that leaves room for God, not only as a distant thought, but as a participant present in life, puts trust where the former placed the illusion of control. It is trust in a God, whom I did not make myself, but who made me – to have a part in a design that is good, even when it requires suffering and sacrifice for love.
We are standing before the ancient difficulty that man has in admitting that he needs God, that he is dependent and even indebted to Him. Man would say, “I want to be God. I do not ever kneel.” How much wisdom is there instead, in the simple phrase, “One must be able to kneel down, in order to be able to stand up.” When life is uncertain, when the family or society wavers, there is the simple answer of the saints: “Get on your knees – if not, you will fall. Leave room for God.” Though the world denies the presence of God, He certainly has not lost interest in the world. We need continually to remind ourselves how small, and how great, man is.
CCEE: Challenges of Evangelisation in Europe
2012-10-01 Vatican Radio
(Vatican Radio) On the eve of the Year of Faith – proclaimed by Pope Benedict XVI – and of the world Synod of Bishops on the New Evangelization, Council of European Bishops’ Conferences (CCEE) gathered for its annual Assembly in St. Gallen, Switzerland. The meeting took place on the occasion of the 1400th anniversary of Saint Gall’s arrival in the city, following an invitation from the local bishop, Bishop Markus Büchel.
The assembled Bishops approached their work as Christian pastors as well as citizens of Europe. From September 27 to 30, intense and fruitful work took place in the light of faith, in the usual climate of fraternity, and with the enthusiastic participation of all.
At the end of their work, the participants of the CCEE Plenary Assembly agreed on the following final message:
The Challenges of Evangelization in Europe:
the message from European Bishops
Message from the CCEE Plenary Assembly
Switzerland, St. Gallen, 30 September 2012
The Presidents of Europe’s Bishop’s Conferences, who gathered during their Plenary Assembly from September 27 to 30 in St. Gallen (Switzerland), discussed the challenge of evangelization on the eve of the Year of Faith, which was proclaimed by the Holy Father Benedict XVI. Bishops once again expressed their gratitude and affection to the Holy Father, and also to his Magisterium and Petrine ministry.
We are aware that Jesus Christ’s good news was God’s ultimate “yes” to the life of Man, freedom and love. As a matter of fact, the Gospel reveals to us the truth of God-Love and Man’s true face, which save Man from moral evil, leading him the to the fullness of his humanity. While acknowledging the serious drifts of economic laissez-faire and ethical libertarianism, we wish to highlight Christianity’s topical relevance, since it offers all human beings its unending topical legacy, by advocating a personalist and communal humanism. Looking towards Christ, the Church proclaims a Man who is redeemed from sin, open towards others and to God our Creator, strongly rooted in Him, who is the source and guarantee of those values that guide individual and peoples’ actions. Secular cultures, fighting over their different anthropological visions, should not look at the Christian message with suspicion, while it spreads its wings of faith and reason. Both wings belong to European history and are the foundation of our civilization. The Church, by bearing witness to faith’s truth, engages in the cultural and social debate with Her heritage of wisdom and culture, showing what righteous reason can bring. The intention to redefine society’s natural foundations, like the family or the coexistence between different historical and religious traditions, is not considered to be incidental.
We wonder about the aim of annoyed and systematically scornful attitudes towards Christian doctrine and faith, and therefore towards Christians, which sometimes lead to discrimination and instigation of hatred. The voice of Christians is considered bothersome by some, who accuse this voice of intolerance and obscurantism: but it is actually perceived as being dangerous, because it is a free voice that is unbending in front of particular interests and unwilling to give in to blackmail. Destabilizing individuals and societies is not for the good of Man, but just a way to pursue partisan interests.
We especially appreciate human freedom, which must be used to respect individual rights but also their religious beliefs, also in the light of the teachings of the Second Vatican Council.
We have been informed of the serious circumstances Catholics are facing in Bosnia Herzegovina. We intend to follow their situation with great attention and spirit of solidarity, hoping that their freedom will be ensured.
In the European context in which we live, we call for full respect and openness to dialogue, without any prejudice and arrogance. Christians feel their responsibility as citizens, and are endowed with a heritage of truth that has been proven by two thousand years of service, goodness and civilization. Our mission is a commitment for us to be wise Pastors of communities that are in history like yeast in the dough, and oil lamps that shine of the light of Christ for the good of all.