Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Fr. Dwight Longenecker

3/15/2011 (3 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 (3 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'


© 2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for November 2014
Lonely people:
That all who suffer loneliness may experience the closeness of God and the support of others.
Mentors of seminarians and religious: That young seminarians and religious may have wise and well-formed mentors.



Comments


More Europe

SCARY VIDEO! What the heck blew up in Russia's sky? Was it a meteor or something stranger?! Watch

Image of A still taken from footage of the phenomena that took place in Russia on November 14.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

What was the mysterious phenomena that occurred in Russia and was witnessed and captured on camera by dozens of motorists? It appears that nobody knows for sure, and even experts are left scratching their heads while they struggle to find reasonable explanations. ... continue reading


Who really was Jack the Ripper? New evidence points to one man Watch

Image of A criminologist from England may have new evidence that points towards the real identity of Jack the Ripper.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A new theory about the identity of infamous 19th century London serial killer Jack the Ripper may explain why the murderer was able to elude contemporary and modern authorities for so long and escape justice. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Dr. Gareth Norris, a ... continue reading


Which countries drink the most beer? Our list may surprise you! Watch

Image of Beer is one of the most widely consumed beverages in the world.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Who still drinks beer?  Beer is one of the most widely consumed beverages, behind water and tea.  Beer is also a Catholic tradition, alongside wine-making, and has been widely practiced in monasteries, especially in Europe. Now, a list has emerged detailing ... continue reading


To raise money for the poor, Pope Francis to raffle gifts Watch

Image of The tickets are only a modest Ä10, but this includes a new Fiat Panda 4x4, with all optional extras.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Talking the talk, walking the walk: Pope Francis has done it again. The pontiff is raffling gifts that have been given to him in order to raise money for the poor. Posters announcing the raffle have gone up all over Vatican City. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic ... continue reading


Russia could destabilize Eastern Europe if Ukraine left unchecked, Merkel warns Watch

Image of It's exceedingly tough talk from German Chancellor Angela Merkel. She says that Russia's annexation of Crimea and subsequent destabilization of eastern Ukraine

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

It's exceedingly tough talk from German Chancellor Angela Merkel. She says that Russia's annexation of Crimea and subsequent destabilization of eastern Ukraine "called the whole of the European peaceful order into question." Adding to the gloomy outlook was a ... continue reading


The Pope Who Builds Showers for the Poor under St Peters Rattles our Comfort Zones Watch

Image of Pope Francis embracing Jesus in the face of the poor

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

Those who love the poor - like Jesus loved the poor- are an instruction manual for the rest of us. They are a sign of the kingdom, making it present in their wake. We have such a man in this Pope named Francis. He recognizes that poverty is more than a lack of ... continue reading


Theory: Putin doesn't want war -- he's selling Russian hardware Watch

Image of Putin is playing a dangerous game on brinkmanship with the world -- or he is trying to sell hardware. Nobody is sure.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Vladimir Putin continues to rattle his saber at the western world with bomber flights, naval deployments and the movement of troops within Russia. Some fear the world may be on the brink of a new cold war with the old superpower. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - As ... continue reading


More Catholic Than the Pope? Francis Calls Catholics to Work and Pray with Evangelical Protestants Watch

Image of Pope Francis realistically acknowledges the differences and distinctives in doctrine and practice - as well as the divisions among us. However, he focuses on our common Baptism and shared mission in this decisive moment in Christian history. His message is powerful, prophetic and should be read by every Christian, as well as every other person of faith and good will.

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

Pope Francis carries the burden for Christian unity in his heart, proclaims it in his words, and steps it into his actions. The hoped for healing of our divisions and call to collaboration proceeded from the Second Vatican Council in the Catholic Church and was ... continue reading


Catholic Cardinal fires back at illegal gay marriages in Italy Watch

Image of While gay marriage is illegal in Italy, many city mayors have begun recognizing same-sex marriages performed outside Italy, which has led to great criticism.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A Catholic Cardinal is warning that gay marriage may lead to the destruction of family structure if it becomes culturally accepted by the Catholic Church. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, the head of the Italian Bishops Conference gave ... continue reading


Sex-selective abortions now running rampant across Eastern Europe Watch

Image of Female feticide is happening in countries which previously had no history of such practices, such as Albania, Kosovo and Macedonia.

By Nita Bhalla, Thomson Reuters Foundation

The practice of aborting female fetuses due to a preference for sons is an  "epidemic" which is spreading beyond countries such as India and China to Eastern European nations, a senior United Nations official warned Monday. NEW DELHI (Thomson Reuters ... 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, Revelation 10:8-11
8 Then I heard the voice I had heard from heaven ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 119:14, 24, 72, 103, 111, 131
14 In the way of your instructions lies my joy, a joy ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 19:45-48
45 Then he went into the Temple and began driving out ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for November 21st, 2014 Image

St. Gelasius
November 21: St. Gelasius I, Pope (Feast day - November 21) Gelasius was born ... 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