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Scots Catholic Blog
|Posted on April 6, 2017 at 4:44 AM||comments ()|
It's a real wake up call. Jesus is losing his influence in Europe. Christianity is dying out.
We've known for some time now that Christianity is on the decline in Europe, but recent data released by the Pew Research Center reveals just how stark that decline is.
Indeed, it is the only decline in any religion in any part of the world between 2010 and 2015. But for Christianity's decline in Europe, every religion across all continents witnessed an increase in numbers, including Christianity itself, which is growing rapidly in Sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America. Islam is also growing rapidly in Sub-Saharan Africa as well as Asia Pacific.
But it is in Europe where the real story lies. An astonishing drop of 5.6 million Christian births to deaths has seen the religion plummet across the continent. There are many reasons for this, not least a much greater prevalence of lukewarm Christianity and an increasingly secular culture.
Across the world Islam will continue to grow in greater numbers than Christianity, with a fertility rate of 2.9 compared to 2.6 for Christians. Islam also has the youngest median age in terms of adherents to the faith, at just 24. Hindus are at 27 with Christians at 30.
We have known for some time that Islam would eventually catch up with Christianity in terms of numbers, and within twenty years births to women of Islamic faith will outnumber Christian births. But it is in Europe where there must be deep concern for Christians. Why is the faith struggling so much in that continent?
For European Christians there is undoubtedly a crisis when it comes to the family. Europe's secular influence, with its liberal laws around contraception, abortion and marriage, has chipped away at the hearts and minds of the faithful, giving them an excuse to focus on the self and to set aside the call of Christ to first and foremost love God and neighbour. Families now come in all different shapes and sizes; their constitution often based on the ideological whim of selfish individuals. The idea that a young man and a young woman can look lovingly into one another's eyes, establish a firm and beautiful friendship that leads to the great sacrament of marriage and the bearing of fruit through the birth of new life is dumbed down by the culture of want. And we have all bought into it. It is a sad reflection on our lack of faith.
As Pope John Paul II said, "As the family goes, so goes the nation and so goes the whole world in which we live."
We Christians have let down the family, and Europe is the nation Pope John Paul refers to. It is going and if we don't reclaim it the world will eventually go with it.
Europe, to coin a famous song, is most definitely losing its religion and losing Christ. If it is to recover, radical change in attitude is required. Starting with the family.
|Posted on December 21, 2015 at 11:02 AM||comments ()|
It has been reported that a group of Muslims protected Christians by refusing to allow themselves to be split up into groups when their bus was ambushed by gunmen.
The incident happened in the village of El Wak in Kenya, near to the country's border with Somalia.
This as an extremely brave gesture and we commend those who stood strong in the face of violence. We are all God's children and we must resist such despicable and unnecessary violence.
Click here for the full story at bbc.co.uk: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-35151967
|Posted on November 16, 2015 at 6:47 AM||comments ()|
Pope Benedict at the University of Regensburg
When Pope Benedict started speaking at the University of Regensburg in 2006 there was little clue as to the controversy that was about to unfold. The pope would use the lecture to respond sternly to increasing instances of violence by Islamic extremists across the globe, a move that many westerners felt most uncomfortable with.
While I would not wish to delve into the intricacies of Pope Benedict’s lecture, his fundamental message with regard to Islam is that, unlike Christianity, Islam (or at least some of its members) does not appear to link God to reason. This, Pope Benedict suggested, could lead to fundamentalism. He was quick to state that he was not saying the Muslim God is insane or irrational but, rather, that he is not bound by a reason accessible to human beings.
The pope, in an attempt to make sense of what he was teaching, used a late 14th century quotation from the Byzantine Emperor Manuel II Paleologus: “Show me just what Mohammed brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached.”
It’s quite a quote! But fast forward to this very day, in the wake of the horrific attacks in the city of Paris, and you begin to see what Pope Benedict was getting at. Like so many popes before him, including Paul VI, John XXIII and John Paul II, Pope Benedict was not afraid to tackle the big issues head on and ultimately get it right.
Of course, this isn’t the whole story. While the mainstream media were frantically thinking up headlines to make the pope look like some kind of anti-Islamic barbarian, he gave some crucial context to his use of the quote when he added more words of the Emperor Manuel. He said: “The emperor goes on to explain in detail the reasons why spreading the faith through violence is something unreasonable….violence is incompatible with the nature of God and the nature of the soul.” He then added: “God is not pleased by blood, and not acting reasonably is contrary to God’s nature. Faith is born of the soul, not the body. Whoever would lead someone to faith needs the ability to speak well and to reason properly, without violence and threats. ... To convince a reasonable soul, one does not need a strong arm or weapons of any kind or any other means of threatening a person with death ...”
It is important to clarify, as Pope Benedict did, that the roots of such extremist violence come from a perversion of the Islamic faith and not from Islam’s authentic theology.
And while so many in the western world cringed at the words of Pope Benedict, more than 100 Muslim scholars from around the world signed an open letter wherein they respectfully took on board the comments made in the pope’s Regensburg lecture. Perhaps even more remarkable is that King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia would visit Pope Benedict in Rome a year later and he would, in 2008, organise an interfaith conference to which he invited Christians, Muslims, Jews, Buddhists and Hindus in an effort to tackle religious extremism.
As Pope Benedict suggested in his lecture, the first victims of Islamic extremism are Muslim people themselves. It then spreads to other peoples, other religions and other countries, and before we know it, every part of the world is on edge fearing the next attack.
No religion can justify the use of such violence as that being wrought by Islamic State at present, be it in Paris, Syria or Africa, where so much damage is done on a daily basis with little coverage from the western mainstream media. We need strong leadership from religious leaders as well as from political leaders. We also need strong religion from those who profess their faith in a peaceful way, be they Muslim, Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, and also those of no faith who live by peaceful means.
As Christians, we need to show the world what living a life of faith is really about. For us, it is about praising God by loving Him and by loving all of our brothers and sisters with whom we share our planet. And while we may often fail in that regard, we must never forget that this is what Christianity teaches us and that is the message we must take to the ends of the earth. There is no place for violence in our religion. Pope Benedict, despite being ridiculed and derided by many in the western world, wasn’t afraid to stand up for peace by speaking out against violence. We should be similarly brave in our approach.
|Posted on February 27, 2015 at 8:43 AM||comments ()|
The Catholic mother of murdered journalist James Foley has said that she forgives Mohammed Emwazi (known as ‘Jihadi John’) who is believed to have killed her son. Diane Foley told the Times: “It saddens me, his [Jihadi John’s] continued hatred. He felt wronged, now we hate him – now that just prolongs the hatred. We need to end it. As a mum I forgive him. The whole thing is an ongoing tragedy.”
If ever there was faith in action in our modern world, this is it. The courage and strength of faith of this woman to forgive the man who murdered her innocent child is something the majority of us could only imagine. As human beings we aren’t inclined to forgive in the face of such evil, and you can understand why. Yet Christ calls us to a higher place. He calls us to be great, to be the best, and to show mercy to all people. This poor woman, who still mourns the passing of her child, is an example to all of how to be merciful in the face of real adversity and how to respond to Christ’s call to holiness. She is true Christianity in action.
Let us pray that the souls of all those who have died will rest in eternal peace. And let us also try to forgive those who have committed these terrible crimes and pray that their hearts will be changed so that they will value all life, for each life is a gift from God.
|Posted on February 16, 2015 at 9:04 AM||comments ()|
In this latest Catholic Answers article, Steve Weidenkopf explores the reality of the Crusades in order to refute common modern myths suggesting the Church is culpable for unnecessary death and destruction.
There is a lot of confusion about the Crusades and who is at fault, and this article certainly brings considerable clarity to the matter, citing Islamic invasions of Christian lands as the catalyst for a just Christian response.
Click here to read the article at catholic.com: http://www.catholic.com/blog/steve-weidenkopf/were-the-crusades-just-wars
|Posted on February 9, 2015 at 9:26 AM||comments ()|
Is the Catholic Church the only way to eternal life?
Tim Staples, Director of Apologetics and Evangelisation at Catholic Answers, considers this most crucial question in his latest blog piece at catholic.com.
In a thoroughly detailed and considered view on the matter, Tim comes to the following important conclusions:
1. No one who knowingly and deliberately rejects the truth will be saved. It doesn’t matter how good of a Muslim, Jew, Baptist, or anything else he may be. If anyone rejects the truth of Christ and his Church—even one definitive teaching—they will be lost.
2. Religions that have as tenants of their respective faiths the rejection of Jesus and his Church have no power to save anyone. It is “the truth that makes us free” (cf. John 8:32), not falsehood.
3. In the case of one who is ignorant of the truth of the Catholic Faith, “through no fault of [his] own,” he can be saved, if he is truly “invincibly ignorant, [is] given the supernatural virtue of faith and [has] perfect charity in [his heart]” (cf. Instruction of Holy Office of Dec. 20, 1949).
4. We must remember that we are not the judges of salvation. God is the sole and final judge. We do not know who is truly “invincibly ignorant” and who is not. Therefore, we must be careful to “evangelize all men” as the Catechism commands us and leave the judging to God.
5. “Whatever good or truth is found amongst [other world religions] is considered by the Church to be ‘a preparation for the Gospel and given by him who enlightens all men that they may at length have life’” (Lumen Gentium16). And if they seek the true God given the light they have received, they have the possibility of salvation.
6. This does not mean they are not in need of the Eucharist! Without the grace that comes from the sacraments, one is at a decided disadvantage to get to heaven. And if one has rejected the truth, then there is no way he can merit heaven apart from repentance and the acceptance of the truth. The Church makes very clear: “The words bind and loose mean: whomever you exclude from your communion, will be excluded from communion with God; whomever you receive anew into your communion, God will welcome back into his. Reconciliation with the Church is inseparable from reconciliation with God” (CCC 1445).
Click here to read the full article at catholic.com: http://www.catholic.com/blog/tim-staples/is-there-really-no-salvation-outside-the-catholic-church
|Posted on February 5, 2015 at 9:17 AM||comments ()|
Aid to the Church in Need, an organisation which helps persecuted Christians around the world through prayer, information and action, is inviting Catholic High Schools and Universities from all over Scotland to gather in Carfin on 11th June in a show of solidarity with persecuted Christians.
The event, which will take place at Carfin Grotto near Motherwell, is expected to be the largest ever gathering of young Catholics in Scotland.
Beginning with the midday Angelus, the event will then play host to a programme of Adoration, music and guest speakers.
The plight of persecuted Christians cannot be overstated in our world today. You only need to consider the crises in Syria and Nigeria to see the brutality of Christian persecution. Christianity is the most persecuted religion in our world today. Please show your support for our Christian brothers and sisters by attending this event.
For more information please click here: http://www.acnuk.org/what-we-do
|Posted on January 9, 2015 at 9:14 AM||comments ()|
Tim Stanley suggests that secular Europe and its lack of understanding of religion may be a major issue as Paris feels the full brunt of militant Islam.
As he looks back at Emeritus Benedict XVI's Regensburg address in 2006, a speech which brought about great criticism for the then pontiff, he considers how Benedict made two useful observations for Europe and its need to harmonise communities with different beliefs.
Stanley comments that harmonisation of these different cultures is difficult and stresses the importance of dialogue. However, he states that 'we cannot have such a dialogue if Islamists refuse to listen a secularists treat blasphemy like high art'.
Click here to read Tim Stanley's article at The Telegraph: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/religion/11335174/Charlie-Hebdo-secularism-is-not-the-solution-but-the-problem.html
|Posted on January 5, 2015 at 7:25 AM||comments ()|
A new Syriac Orthodox Church is to be built on the outskirts of Istanbul. It is the first new Christian church to be built in Turkey for a century.
Click here to read the full story at the Catholic Herald: http://www.catholicherald.co.uk/news/2015/01/05/first-new-church-to-be-built-in-turkey-for-a-century/
|Posted on November 13, 2014 at 9:35 AM||comments ()|
Aid to the Church in Need has released a report which it claims is a 'comprehensive assessment on the threat to religious liberty today'.
The report, which can be accessed using the link below, states that the fundamental right to religious freedom 'is the most critical need in a divided world where, in some parts there is a religious revival, and in others, a trend towards religious indifference and atheism.'
Of the 196 countries in the world, a total of 81 (or 41%) were identified as places where religious freedom is impaired or in decline. A total of 35 countries, including the United Kingdom, were classified as having some religious freedom issues that are 'of concern' but with no deterioration in their status.
Of the top 20 countries where religious freedom is at highest risk, 14 experience religious persecution linked to extremist Islam, while in the remaining 6 the persecution is linked to authoritarian regimes.
A very interesting finding, and one which I think really hits the spot, particularly with regard to our experience here in the UK, is the rise of 'religious illiteracy among both Western policy makers and the international media' which is in turn 'hampering productive dialogue and effective policy making.'
Given the embarrassingly poor quality of reporting on religious matters by our mainstream media in the UK and the tendency to avoid the real issues in order to attack religion, and principally the Catholic Church, this finding is no real surprise.
The report also suggests a decline in consensus on the rights of conscience of religious believers while discrimination on the grounds of race, gender and sexuality increase. It also notes a growing conflict between traditional religious and the 'progressive' liberal consensus on issues such as faith schools, homosexual marriage and euthanasia. This, it is claimed, creates a 'hierarchy of rights' where the rights of homosexual or gender equality campaigners take precedence over the rights of religious believers. The report cites the example of UK Catholic adoption agencies that refuse to place children with homosexual couples and ongoing attempts to force them to change their rules or close.
Western democracies are also seen as a significant contributor to the difficulties experienced by religious in our world today. The report states that 'Western democracy - once so admired and emulated - is no longer automatically seen as the preferred role model for developing countries. So the argument goes, if Western liberalism leads to abortion, contraception, immodesty, family breakdown, gay marriage and huge national and personal debt, then traditionally-minded religious groups want no part of it.'
In conclusion, the report calls on religious people to make a stand for religious freedom. It states: 'The clear lesson from this research is that the urgent call to reverse the violence and oppression towards religious minorities must come, first and foremost, from within religious communities themselves....The necessity for religious leaders to use their pulpits and the media to loudly proclaim their opposition to religiously-inspired violence, and to re-affirm their support for religious tolerance, is becoming - in the present climate - ever more urgent.'
As Pope Francis says: 'Reason recognises that religious freedom is a fundamental right of man, reflecting his highest dignity.'