Hva er den største trusselen mot kristendommens plass i samfunnet, Islam eller sekulariseringen? I sin liste over mega-trender hadde John Allen skrevet om Islam, men etter at han fikk respons fra lesere, skrev han følgende:
In describing the rise of Islam, especially its more radical currents, I wrote last week that in some ways it represents the “chief ideological rival” of the Catholic church. Several readers took issue with that formula, some out of sensitivity to Muslims, but others because they believe there’s a greater ideological foe: Western secularism, especially in Europe. Many pointed to the “ecclesiastical winter” of contemporary Europe as a mega-trend. While sociologist Fr. Andrew Greeley has documented that “de-Christianization” has not gripped Europe uniformly, nevertheless the indicators in many places are striking.
In the Netherlands, the proportion of the population with no religious affiliation has gone from 23 percent to 59 percent in a single generation, prompting Greeley to observe that “the Dutch may have become a pagan people almost overnight.” In a similar vein, vocations to the priesthood and religious life have plummeted. .. The church has scant influence in public life, as symbolized by the unwillingness of the European Union so much as to mention God in the preamble to its draft constitutional document. There’s also the rise of an increasingly pugnacious form of atheism, evidenced most recently by Richard Dawkins’ book, The God Delusion, often premised on appeals to science. All this represents a serious challenge to the church in the West, and perceptions of such a crisis were at least partly responsible for the election of Joseph Ratzinger to the papacy. Diagnosis, however, is easier than cure. There will continue to be strong debate as to whether the solution is to “modernize” the church, bringing it more into line with contemporary secular expectations — or to reinforce its traditional identity, on the grounds that secularism poses a crisis not of structures or teachings, but of nerve.