Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Fr. Dwight Longenecker

3/15/2011 (4 years ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

The population centre of world Christendom has shifted, and we in the West have hardly taken notice

Those who wished for a golden age of liberal ideals will be cruelly disappointed because the Catholicism of the new majority tends to be rather orthodox. They believe the old, old story of a God who sends his Son to the world to redeem the world from sin. They believe in a supernatural religion, the efficacy of the sacraments, and the power of the Church.

Highlights

By Fr. Dwight Longenecker

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

3/15/2011 (4 years ago)

Published in Europe

Keywords: Christendom, African Church, Catholic, orthodoxy, Fr Dwight Longenecker, renewal


GREENVILLE, SC (Catholic Online) - (Editor in Chief's Note: During these forty days of Lent where we are invited, with the whole Church, into a protracted battle with the world, the flesh and the devil, the "Gargoyle Code" by Fr Dwight Longenecker is a must read. It can be purchased here. - Deacon Keith Fournier)

There is a constant temptation for people to forget the present moment and look fondly for a golden age in which the Church enshrines everything they hold sacred. Some traditionalists tend to look back to a pre-Vatican II golden age that never really existed, but it is also true that some progressive Catholics look vainly to a golden age. The difference is, they look to a golden age of the future. Both golden ages exist only in the imaginations of their authors. These pipe dreams are not harmless illusions or entertaining diversions, but harmful delusions that cause divisions. There is a certain type of Catholic who longs for a third Vatican Council that picks up where Vatican II left off. They hope for another 'good Pope John' who will open the windows of the church and allow the fresh air of the liberal secular agenda to re-invigorate a moribund, legalistic and repressive church. But this is a pipe dream just as much as the traditionalist's nineteen fifties Catholic fantasy, and when things don't turn out the way they wanted some of these Catholics become just as bitter as the traditionalists they so dislike. Demographics indicate that whether there is a third Vatican Council or not, the church is in for a radical upheaval, however the radicalism will be very different than that envisioned by the aging, affluent, intellectual progressives. When we look beyond the affluent countries of the North and West we see that another Christian revolution, quite different from the one being called for in urbane Catholic European circles is even now on the move. The population centre of world Christendom has shifted, and we in the West have hardly taken notice. In 1900, Africa had just 10 million Christians out of a continental population of 107 million. This made up about 9 percent of the population. Today, the Christian total stands at 46 percent or 360 million. That percentage will continue to rise because Christian African countries have some of the world's most dramatic rates of population growth. At the same time, the advanced industrial countries are experiencing a disastrous drop in birth rate. Within the next 25 years, the population of the world's Christians is expected to grow to 2.6 billion (making Christianity by far the world's largest faith). By 2025, 50 percent of the Christian population will be in Africa and Latin America, and another 17 percent will be in Asia. Within fifty years only one-fifth of the world's Christians will be non-Hispanic whites. The typical Christian will be a woman living in a Nigerian village or in a Brazilian shantytown. Already the annual baptism total for the Philippines is higher than the totals for Italy, France, Spain, and Poland combined. The number of Filipino Catholics could grow to 90 million by 2025, and perhaps to 130 million by 2050. It is interesting that the future belongs to the young, hungry and zealous Christians of the South and East, but what is more interesting is their version of the Catholic faith. Those who wished for a golden age of liberal ideals will be cruelly disappointed because the Catholicism of the new majority tends to be rather orthodox. They believe the old, old story of a God who sends his Son to the world to redeem the world from sin. They believe in a supernatural religion, the efficacy of the sacraments, and the power of the church.

They prefer the older, sacramental, visually based devotions and are far more respectful of the authority of priests and bishops. Hot topics like women's ordination, homosexual marriage and the democratization of the church leave them cold. Their agenda is radical in a different way: they are hungry. And the Lord, as we know, has a habit of filling the hungry with good things while he sends the rich away empty. This implies a future conflict between the new majority and the old guard. This conflict is not only within the Catholic Church. An example of the clash between established world and developing world flared up a few years ago when the world's Anglican bishops gathered at Lambeth in England. Many of the bishops from America and Britain wanted to push through a more permissive stance on homosexuality, but the Asian and African bishops were having none of it.

They pointed out that there are more Anglicans in Nigeria alone than in Britain, Canada and the USA combined. They insisted on a conservative stance and infuriated the British and North American bishops who were used to being in charge. When an American bishop accused the Africans of being "ignorant fundamentalists", the African bishop politely replied that he too had a PhD from Oxford and accused the American bishop of being patronizing and racist. In the Catholic Church the shift of power is evident in the College of Cardinals. When Pope John Paul II created new cardinals in his final consistory, eleven of the forty-four were Latin American, two were Indian, and three African. When Pope Benedict was elected fifty-seven of the 135 cardinals eligible to vote were from Southern nations. Within a few years, because of deaths and retirement of elderly cardinals, the third world electors will constitute a majority.When Pope Benedict goes to his reward, will the Cardinals from the developing world elect one of their number to the throne of Peter? Almost certainly. What must be most annoying for Fr Folkmass and Sister Sandals is that they are the ones who have (rightfully) been most fervent in supporting the rise of Christians in the poor countries. They have been the ones most vocal in wishing for the 'voice of the faithful' to be heard. In a paradoxical way, the twenty first century will see the fruition of their dreams. The voice of the faithful will be heard. The majority within the church will take the reigns of power, but the church the new majority brings to birth will look very different from the future golden age the progressives had envisioned.

 -----

Fr Dwight Longenecker is pastor of Our Lady of the Rosary Catholic Church and Chaplain to St Joseph's Catholic School in Greenville, South Carolina. His latest book, The Gargoyle Code is a Lenten book in the style of C.S. Lewis' Screwtape Letters.

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


Copyright 2015 - Distributed by THE CALIFORNIA NETWORK

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for February 2016
Universal:
That prisoners, especially the young, may be able to rebuild lives of dignity.
Evangelization: That married people who are separated may find welcome and support in the Christian community.



Comments


More Europe

Remains of St. Padre Pio of Pietrelcina, St. Leopold Mandic arrive in Rome for Jubilee of Mercy Watch

Image of The relics of the two saints were welcomed to St. Lawrence with a large celebration and procession into the basilica (CNS/Reuters).

By Elise Harris, CNA/EWTN News

The partially incorrupt body of Padre Pio has arrived to Rome for the first time ever alongside that of another friar, St. Leopold Mandic, as a special initiative for the Jubilee of Mercy. Vatican City (CNA/EWTN News) - Urns containing the relics of Saint Padre ... continue reading


Seeking reconciliation, Pope Francis, and Russian Orthodox leader to meet in Cuba - for first time, ever Watch

Image of The meeting comes after years and decades of previous outreach efforts, which has prevented papal visits to Russia (AFP).

By Catholic Online (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

In the hopes of repairing a schism within Christianity, that dates back as far as the 11th Century, Pope Francis will meet with the leader of the Russian Orthodox Church in Cuba. The two branches have been estranged because of disagreements over papal authority - as ... continue reading


Woman takes toddler to join ISIS Watch

Image of Tareena Shakil took her toddler to Syria to join ISIS (PA).

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Twenty-six-year-old Tareena Shakil told her family she would be vacationing in Turkey with her 14-month-old son. The next time her family heard from her, Shakil and her son were in Syria - and had joined the terrorist organization ISIS. LOS ANGELES, CA (California ... continue reading


Evidence of the Yeti? Footprints in Himalayan snow said to be of abominable snowman Watch

Image of Among the most elusive of all crypto-zoological creatures, the Abominable Snowman has had several eyewitness accounts. Some Russian fans here pose with an elaborate mock-up of the snowy creature (Lenta).

By Catholic Online (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

The abominable snowman, or Yeti, remains one of the world's most elusive crypto-zoological figures. There have been many eyewitness reports of the hairy giant throughout the mountain ranges of the Himalayas for many years. A British man, on vacation in Bhutan, ... continue reading


'I should never have smiled at him': Nightclub owner bans migrants from club when language barrier leads to sexual harrassment Watch

Image of When women began to report migrants harassing them at his nightclub, Jensen decided to take action (Mads Flackner).

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Tom Holden Jensen, the owner of a Danish nightclub, decided to ban all migrants who don't speak Danish, English or German from his Buddy Holly club in Søenderborg. The controversial decision was made after several women claimed they felt threatened and intimidated by ... continue reading


'Covering St.Peter's in an enormous box?' - Italians react to veiling of classical art for alien religion Watch

Image of Statues were covered in advance of Rouhani's visit to Rome, but not all of them.

By David Drudge (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Italians are upset that state officials covered ancient Roman statues to avoid offending Hassan Rouhani's sensibilities during his visit to Rome. The president of the Islamic Republic is on a tour of Europe to drum up trade following the lifting of sanctions on Iran. ... continue reading


The world recognizes International Holocaust Remembrance Day Watch

Image of International Holocaust Remembrance Day honors the memory of those who were lost (kosherKola).

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

On November 1, 2005, the United Nations General Assembly passed Resolution 60/7 to make January 27 the International Day of Commemoration in memory of Holocaust victims. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - January 27 is the anniversary of the liberation of the ... continue reading


Migrant worker in Sweden murdered at CHILD migrant center Watch

Image of Refugee violence in Europe continues to grow, as Alexandra Mezher [not pictured] is stabbed by suspected Somalian refugee.

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

A 22-year-old migrant center worker was brutally stabbed to death outside the housing for unaccompanied migrants in Molndal, Sweden. Sadly, her death is one of several migrant-related crimes throughout Europe. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Daily Mail reported ... continue reading


You won't believe what a 'Christian Patrol' group experienced in Britain Watch

Image of

By Catholic Online (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

A video has been released showing members of the group Britain First, marching through the Muslim stronghold of Bury Park, Luton, bearing crosses, and passing out Christian literature. There is the expected clash with the local Muslims ... and the results are ... continue reading


Iranian President Hassan Rouhani asks Pope Francis to pray for him Watch

Image of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani asked Pope Francis to pray for him (Getty Images).

By Monique Crawford (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

For the first time in 17 years, a pope and Iranian leader met for private talks at the Vatican. Each leader spoke of the responsibilities of religious communities and human rights. Their talks concluded with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani asking Pope Francis to pray ... continue reading


All Europe News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Subscribe to Catholic OnlineYouTube Channel

the FEED
by Catholic Online

Daily Readings

Reading 1, First Kings 3:4-13
4 The king went to Gibeon to sacrifice there, since that was the ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 119:9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14
9 How can a young man keep his way spotless? By keeping your ... Read More

Gospel, Mark 6:30-34
30 The apostles rejoined Jesus and told him all they had done and ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for February 6th, 2016 Image

St. Paul Miki
February 6: Paul was the son of a Japanese military leader. ... Read More