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'


Copywriter 2015 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for March 2015
Universal:
Scientists: That those involved in scientific research may serve the well-being of the whole human person.
Evangelization: Contribution of women: That the unique contribution of women to the life of the Church may be recognized always.


Rosaries, Crosses, Prayer Cards and more... by Catholic Shopping .com


Comments


More Europe

Did a broken heart lead to mass slaughter? Germanwings co-pilot said to be 'depressed' and 'stressed' Watch

Image of Remembered as a friendly and funny personality, Andreas Lubitz had a life-long obsession to become a pilot. There is speculation that he feared his flying license - due to expire in just three months time would not have been renewed on medical grounds.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The willful destruction of himself - along with 149 other, innocent human beings, has the world scrambling for answers. Germanwings co-pilot Andreas Lubitz, who slammed his plane into mountainside earlier this week. Killing everyone onboard, remains a ... continue reading


DEADLY SECRET: Co-pilot of doomed Germanwings flight hid medical condition, authorities say Watch

Image of A terrible tragedy that left 150 people dead may have been the result of a frightened, insecure man hiding a medical condition. Investigators say that Germanwings copilot Andreas Lubitz was keeping an unspecified medical condition secret from others.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A terrible tragedy that left 150 people dead may have been the result of a frightened, insecure man hiding a medical condition. Investigators say that Germanwings copilot Andreas Lubitz was keeping an unspecified medical condition secret from others and had a ... continue reading


CO-PILOT LOCKED CAPTAIN OUT OF COCKPIT: Chilling last minutes of Germanwings Airbus crash revealed Watch

Image of

By Abigail James (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Investigators have recovered key information from the French Alps wrecked Germanwings Airbus A320's black box and voice recorder. The co-pilot, 28-year-old German, Andreas Lubitz, intentionally locked the captain out of the cockpit and deliberately crashed into a ... continue reading


STANDING FIRM: Nearly 500 British priests urge synod to stand firm on Communion for the remarried Watch

Image of An extraordinary synod last year provoked heated debate on the question of whether remarried Catholics should be permitted to receive Holy Communion, which was a proposal presented by retired German Cardinal Walter Kasper.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Nearly 500 British priests have signed a letter urging those attending this year's family synod to issue a "clear and firm proclamation" upholding Church teaching on marriage. An extraordinary synod last year provoked heated debate on the question of whether ... continue reading


Pope Francis sends message to families of victims in Germanwings' French Alps crash, as black box and cockpit recorder recovered Watch

Image of Families are hit with grief as the search for bodies continues.

By Abigail James (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

150 people were killed in the tragic Germanwings A320 Airbus crash in the snowy French Alps earlier this week. Pope Francis has come forward with some words of comfort for all those involved in the horrific accident. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Pope Francis ... continue reading


GAS ATTACK FEARED: Islamist State may launch attack on London's Underground subway system Watch

Image of The 1995 sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway killed 13 people. Experts now fear that Islamist State agents returning to the United Kingdom will launch similar offenses.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Islamic State militants returning to the United Kingdom could attack London Underground trains or football matches with chlorine gas. That is the frightening estimation from chemical weapons expert Hamish de Bretton-Gordon, a retired head of chemical and ... continue reading


Plane crash in French Alps: All 150 feared dead Watch

Image of

By Abigail James (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

An airplane carrying 150 people crashed Tuesday in the French Alps. All 144 passengers and six crew members are presumed dead. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) A Germanwings Airbus A320 was traveling from Barcelona, Spain to Dusseldorf  Germany. During mid ... continue reading


Spanish priest performs 13 exorcisms on anorexic girl Watch

Image of

By Hannah Raissa Marfil (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Spanish priest and official exorcist of Valladolid, Jesus Hernandez Sahagun was arrested and is now facing charges of gender violence, causing injury and mistreatment, according to the Daily Mail. The priest has allegedly performed 13 exorcisms on the girl, who was ... continue reading


Pope Francis mobbed by cloistered nuns during Naples trip Watch

Image of The prison visit formed part of a very busy day for Pope Francis in the city 150 miles south of Rome.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Mobbed by a group of excited nuns during his visit to Naples Cathedral, a cardinal exclaimed, "They are going to eat him!" Usually observing the rules of "papal enclosure" and rarely allowed to leave their nunneries, the sisters let out of their convents for ... continue reading


Bishop Williamson excommunicated - again, for illicitly ordaining bishop against papal orders Watch

Image of Bishop Williamson has criticized the leaders of the SSPX for being

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

For the second time, Bishop Richard Williamson has been automatically excommunicated -- along with the priest, he illicitly ordained a bishop. Williamson violated Church law when he ordained 73-year-old Father Jean-Michel Faure without papal approval during a ... continue reading


All Europe News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

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

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Ezekiel 37:21-28
21 say, "The Lord Yahweh says this: I shall take the ... Read More

Psalm, Jeremiah 31:10, 11-12, 13
10 Listen, nations, to the word of Yahweh. On the ... Read More

Gospel, John 11:45-57
45 Many of the Jews who had come to visit Mary, and ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for March 28th, 2015 Image

St. Venturino of Bergamo
March 28: Dominican preacher and missionary crusader. A native of Bergamo, ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter