Den kjente katolske forfatteren George Weigel skriver nå hos First Things (som jeg fortsatt leser ganske ofte, selv etter Fr. Neuhaus’ død) om noe som ble kjent etter kardinal Martinis død i september:
.. In the interview (immediately dubbed his “spiritual testament” by his admirers), Cardinal Martini described the Church in Europe and America as “tired,” and asked “Where among us are the heroes from whom we can draw inspiration?” The burning “coals” of the Church, Martini continued, were hidden under piles of ashes; indeed, there is “so much ash on top of the coals that I am often assailed by a sense of powerlessness. How can the coals be freed from the ashes so as to reinvigorate the flame of love?”
The cardinal went on to propose, quite rightly, that true reform in the Church is always reform inspired by Word and Sacrament. But then, at the end of the interview, came the money-quote: “The Church is two hundred years behind. Why in the world does it not rouse itself? Are we afraid? Fear instead of courage?”
To which one wants to reply, with all respect, “Two hundred years behind what?” A Western culture that has lost its grasp on the deep truths of the human condition? A culture that celebrates the imperial autonomous Self? A culture that detaches sex from love and responsibility? A culture that breeds a politics of immediate gratification and inter-generational irresponsibility, of the sort that has paralyzed public policy in Italy and elsewhere? “Why in the world,” to repeat the late cardinal’s question, would the Church want to catch up with that? … …
For all his brilliance, Cardinal Martini, like many on the Catholic left, never seemed to grasp that the secular culture with which Vatican II hoped to open a dialogue was not the secular culture that emerged in Europe in the aftermath of the upheavals of 1968. The new secularism was not open to the possibility of transcendent truth, as the secularism of, say, Albert Camus had been. The new secularism was embittered, aggressive, and narrow-minded. It was not so much interested in dialogue as in cultural hegemony. And it is now firmly committed to driving the Catholic Church out of public life throughout the Western world.
There is no need to lament being “behind” that. The Catholic challenge is to get ahead of that soul-withering ideology, and convert those in thrall to it by example and persuasive argument.