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 July 2014
Sports:
That sports may always be occasions of human fraternity and growth.
Lay Missionaries: That the Holy Spirit may support the work of the laity who proclaim the Gospel in the poorest countries.



Comments


More Europe

Meriam Ibraham is Free! The Living God Has Heard the Cry of His People! Jesus Christ is Lord! Watch

Image of Meriam receives the blessing and the gratitude of the successor of Peter, Francis.- What should be front and center in every Christian news report on this remarkable story is that God intervened on behalf of Meriam and her family. The God whom we profess is real and His power is greater than any regime or any form of opposition. Yes, He used men and women, and even government leaders, to accomplish His deliverance. He often does. But it was His Love and Mercy which broke the shackles of evil. He deserves all the praise.

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

The photo of Pope Francis blessing Meriam Ibrahim and her little daughter Maya in the Casa Santa Marta on Thursday, July 24, 2014, reciving a blessing from a smiling Pope Francis, made millions of hearts leap for joy. The God of love answers the prayers of His ... continue reading


'A negative act necessarily must be condemned:' Vatican revising law on abuse penalties Watch

Image of

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

In regards to canonical law regarding acts of sexual misconduct, according to law ended up being too vague, Bishop Juan Ignacio Arrieta says, church sanctions were being applied so haphazardly that the church appeared to be divided. In response, the Vatican is ... continue reading


VILE: Somali girl smuggled into United Kingdom for organ harvesting Watch

Image of In perhaps the most horrific recent case, law enforcement learned that a Somali girl had been brought to England for the express purpose of harvesting her organs for transplant.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

There has been a noticeable uptick of cases of human trafficking in the United Kingdom. In perhaps the most horrific recent case, law enforcement learned that a Somali girl had been brought to England for the express purpose of harvesting her organs for ... continue reading


HORRIFIC ABUSE: 18-year-old girl coerced into group sex while being recorded on cell phone Watch

Image of The incident is being called an example of

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

An 18-year-old girl performed explicit sex acts on 24 men on a dance floor with the promise of a holiday - which never arrived. Presented with a mixed drink for her acts of indecency, the sordid episode was recorded on a cell phone camera - for the world to ... continue reading


Female genital mutilation threatens young females in England, Wales Watch

Image of The Department of Health has ordered hospitals to report signs of genital mutilation. The first statistics aren't due until September.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Far away from Africa and parts of Asia, girls and young women are still at risk for female genital mutilation, or FGM within the United Kingdom. The barbaric practice, FGM, is still carried out among various immigrant females in both Great Britain and Wales. ... continue reading


Putin vs. the World: One plane crash may spell the end for Russian president's ambitious plan of conquest Watch

Image of Russian backed separatists stand around wreckage from the downed Malaysian Airlines plane.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

World opinion continues to oppose Russian President Vladimir Putin, with the destruction of Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 over Ukraine being the most notable and recent example of Russian interference in Ukraine. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Time and evidence ... continue reading


Prophetic Pope Does It Again: Words to an Economic Conference Make Waves Watch

Image of Pope Francis is absolutely correct. It is not

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

On July 12, 2014, this prophetic Pope made waves again. He addressed participants in an international conference entitled - The Global Common Good: Towards A More Inclusive Economy. The conference was convened in Rome and sponsored by the Pontifical Council for ... continue reading


Sting nabs 600 pedos across UK, Scotland, Northen Ireland Watch

Image of Heightened awareness of child sexual abuse in the United Kingdom came in the wake of shocking revelations of predatory sexual behavior by late TV host Jimmy Savile.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

An Internet sting operation targeting pedophiles has led to the arrest of 660 individuals in the United Kingdom. Among those arrested were teachers, doctors, scout leaders, social care workers and former police officers. The six-month investigation was ... continue reading


MYSTERIOUS BISHOP: Father of British science to be honored Watch

Image of Bishop Robert Grosseteste was one of England's foremost scientific scholars, back in the 13th century.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A theologian from Bishop Grosseteste University in the city of Lincoln has called for the erection of a statue of Bishop Robert Grosseteste, the medieval thinker, in his home city of Lincoln. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Dr. Jack Cunningham said that a ... continue reading


Faithful at Istanbul church rattled after Muslim attack Watch

Image of The attacks reopened psychological wounds in light of fatal attacks on Catholics and other Christians in Turkey. Members of the Christian minority here fear that things will only get worse.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The faithful at Saint Stephanos Church in Istanbul, Turkey are feeling rattled after an attack was carried out there by Muslims. Attackers verbally assaulted and threatened them during a baptismal service. Muslims have also destroyed church property in the last ... 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, Sirach 44:1, 10-15
1 Next let us praise illustrious men, our ancestors ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 132:11, 13-14, 17-18
11 Yahweh has sworn to David, and will always remain ... Read More

Gospel, Matthew 13:16-17
16 'But blessed are your eyes because they see, your ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for July 26th, 2014 Image

Sts. Joachim and Anne
July 26: By tradition Joachim and Anne are considered to be the names of ... 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