"It is...Our will that Catholics should abstain from certain appellations which have recently been brought into use to distinguish one group of Catholics from another. They are to be avoided not only as 'profane novelties of words,' out of harmony with both truth and justice, but also because they give rise to great trouble and confusion among Catholics. Such is the nature of Catholicism that it does not admit of more or less, but must be held as a whole or as a whole rejected: 'This is the Catholic faith, which unless a man believe faithfully and firmly; he cannot be saved' (Athanasian Creed). There is no need of adding any qualifying terms to the profession of Catholicism: it is quite enough for each one to proclaim 'Christian is my name and Catholic my surname,' only let him endeavour to be in reality what he calls himself." -- Pope Benedict XV, Ad Beatissimi Apostolorum 24 (1914)

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Dear Bishops, Is It A Crisis Yet?

Christianity is fading away in Britain as Islam surges and agnosticism spreads

By Damian Thompson Religion Last updated: December 11th, 2012

The shape of things to come

Poor Rowan Williams: wrong to the end. Christianity is not "fading away" in Britain, he says. Yes it is, as the census figures clearly illustrate.

Since the last census in 2001, the number of Britons identifying themselves, however loosely, as Christians is down 13 percentage points to 59 per cent.

The number of respondents who say they have no religious faith is up 10 points to 25 per cent. Meanwhile, staggeringly, the Muslim population has grown from 1.55 million to 2.7 million, an increase of 1.15 million from 2001 to 2011.

The surge in Islamic belief is entirely a consequence of immigration. The spread of agnosticism and atheism is (though I haven't yet seen the breakdown by age) largely generational.

It cannot be said too often: the default position of people born since 1980 is agnosticism or atheism. Meanwhile, as a commenter points out below, net migration from the UK consists largely of people who would probably have ticked the Christian or C of E box. That hadn't occurred to me, but it's an important factor.

A quick thought: these figures confirm that, saddled with shrinking congregations and (so far) dreadful leadership from Archbishops Williams and Nichols, the Churches haven't a hope in hell of stopping gay marriage.

The Decline of the Church in Britain
December 11, 2012 By Fr. Dwight Longenecker

Whitby Abbey – “bare, ruined quires”

Damian Thompson (who is probably one of the world’s greatest journalists) writehere about the decline of Christianity in Britain. The shrinking of those who identify as Christians is combined with a dramatic surge in the Muslim population. You can’t disagree with the statistics:

Since the last census in 2001, the number of Britons identifying themselves, however loosely, as Christians is down 13 percentage points to 59 per cent.

The number of respondents who say they have no religious faith is up 10 points to 25 per cent. Meanwhile, staggeringly, the Muslim population has grown from 1.55 million to 2.7 million, an increase of 1.15 million from 2001 to 2011.

However, I must disagree with Damian’s diagnosis of the problem. Damian points the finger at the dismal leadership of both Rowan Williams in the Church of England and the Catholic Archbishop of Westminster, Vincent Nichols. These men aren’t to blame for the lack of Christianity in Britain. The roots of the problem lie much deeper.

There are two essential reasons why Christianity is dying in the West. The first reason is philosophical and theological. Christianity has been undermined by modernism, the roots of which date back to destructive methods of Biblical critical scholarship and the humanistic rationalism and relativism that accompanies modernism. The roots of these trends within the church are found within nominalism– the philosophical foundations of historical Protestantism. Therefore, the present problem can be clearly traced back 500 years when Christians started drifting from the supernatural and historic beliefs of the Christian faith. Read The Smoke of Satan for further analysis…

Put simply, Christianity is fading in Britain because British people don’t believe in it. They don’t believe in it because their whole culture and educational system contradicts Christian religious belief.

The second reason the British have stopped being Christian is because the British have stopped being Christian. What I mean is that, despite the theological and philosophical problems, Christian faith still flourishes when there are dynamic examples of Christians living out their faith in a radical way. When Christians live out their faith in simplicity and sacrifice, when their love and patience is exhibited in daily life, and when their spirituality empowers a genuine encounter with Christ and when they are truly transformed, they soon transform the world. What attracted converts the most in the early church was the radical and radiant love Christians lived out. In the midst of a dying culture of death and despair the Christians loved one another. They sang! They were filled with energy, hope, zeal and life.

Pope Benedict understands that the practice of Christianity will continue to shrink in the West. It will contract and seem to fade away, but that contraction will be a purification. We will have quality even if we do not have quantity. Then as the western world is swept away by the combined forces of atheism on the one hand and cruel and oppressive Islam on the other, the few radical Christians will once again shine like stars in the night. They will once again exhibit true forgiveness (which is absent in atheism and Islam) true faith (which is absent in atheism and Islam) and true love (which is absent in atheism and Islam)

The leadership may be weak, but most leaders are simply reflections of those whom they lead. Christianity in Britain is not weak because of weak leadership. The leadership is weak because Christians in Britain are weak.

And lest my American readers are feeling smug and self righteous, the same rot is present in American Christianity, but with far more insidious and decadent manifestations.

The collapse of the number of Christians in England and Wales

From the 2011 England and Wales census data released today, a 12-point fall in only 10 years - and the number of irreligious people nearly doubled in the same period. (Office of National Statistics and The Guardian)

Christian: 2001: 71.7%, 2011: 59.3% (-12.4%)
No religion: 2001: 14.8%, 2011: 25.1% (+10.3%)
Muslim: 2001: 3%, 2011: 4.8%
Hindu: 2001: 1.1%, 2011: 1.5%
Sikh: 2001: 0.6%, 2011: 0.8%
Jewish: 2001: 0.5%, 2011: 0.5%
Buddhist: 2001: 0.3%, 2011: 0.4%
Other religion: 2001: 0.3%, 2011: 0.4%
Religion not stated: 2001: 7.7%, 2011: 7.2%

CatholicCulture.org: Pray. Think. Act.

Canadian cardinal rues Latin American immigrants’ loss of faith

In Rome for a conference commemorating the 15th anniversary Blessed John Paul II’s apostolic exhortation Ecclesia in America,Cardinal Thomas Collins of Toronto rued the loss of faith among the descendants of Latin American immigrants to secularized Canada.

“I think that the challenge is always when you have people from other countries bringing their own culture and the wealth of their faith, then you have the second generation or the third and fourth and there is the danger that they will be absorbed into a secular culture,” he said. “Apart from being secular, it is also less rich. It is plastic; it is not something to celebrate. A lot of it is very, very superficial with a distorted anthropology and a distorted sense of the human person. So what a tragedy it is when people come with a very deep and fruitful culture and it gets watered down.”

“I think it’s very true too that when a country or a community depends upon a religion based upon a culture, then it’s not a lasting thing,” he added. “There have to be deeper roots. When a faith is largely cultural, then it will disappear when it is absorbed by another culture. We really only have a certain amount of time to develop the deep roots and hope that they can be strong enough to resist the secularized nature of their surrounding environment.”

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