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Christmas 2002: the state of the Church

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 Contents - Dec 2002AD2000 December 2002 - Buy a copy now
Editorial: Christmas 2002: the state of the Church - Peter Westmore
New Vatican Instruction on priesthood: the challenge to be another Christ - AD2000 Report
News: The Church Around the World - AD2000
Education: Most teachers reject Church teaching: ACU professor - Michael Gilchrist
Books: Biography of Archbishop Pell launched in Melbourne: author interviewed
Thomas Groome: his influence on religious education continues - Eamonn Keane
Brisbane Synod 2003: a leadership challenge - Peter D. Howard
'New' ecumenism fights secular culture: Protestant theologian
Archbishop Chaput: what makes a good leader? - Archbishop Charles J. Chaput
The sound of thunder and laughter: Hilaire Belloc re-considered -  A.G. Evans
Letters: The Pell case (letter) - Alan A. Hoysted
Letters: Clergy support (letter) - Peter R. McNamara
Letters: Anti-Catholicism (letter) - Glenn Talaue
Letters: Women's Commission (1) (letter) - Sr Breda O'Reilly
Letters: Women's Commission (2) (letter) - Dr Myles M. Kehoe
Letters: Bishops' initiative (letter) - Therese Vassarotti
Letters: Bishop Power (letter) - Fr G.H. Duggan SM
Letters: St Maria Goretti (letter) - Anne Buchan
Letters: 'Misandry' (letter) - Name and address supplied
Letters: Forgiveness (letter) - John Schmid
Letters: Visionary (letter) - Tom King
Letters: Newman (letter) - Rev Julius C. Stonehouse
Letters: Apologetics (letter) - Geoff Storey
Poetry: The New Year - D.C. Craig
Books: Bio-Engagement: Making a Christian Difference through Bioethics Today - Bill Muehlenberg (reviewer)
Books: Eucharistic Devotion : renewing a timeless tradition / Heart of St Alphonsus - Michael Daniel (reviewer)
Books: Barb of Fire: Twenty Poems of Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity - Michael Daniel (reviewer)
Books: Beyond the Blue Glass: Catholic Essays on Faith and Culture, Aidan Nichols OP - Tracey Rowland (reviewer)
Books: Top Ten AD2000 Books for 2002
Books: Ideal Christmas Gifts from AD Books
Reflection: John Paul II on Christmas: 'the mystery of humanity redeemed by Christ' - Pope John Paul II

As we approach Christmas and the end of 2002, it is timely to look at the state of the Church today, at least as it exists in the West, which traditionally has been the heartland of Christian belief and practice.

Since the "cultural revolution" of the 1960s, Christian belief in most Western countries has been shaken by the inroads of secularism.

The Anglican Bishop of Bunbury (WA), the Right Rev W.D.H. McCall, recently reported to his diocesan Synod, "The Church in this Diocese has not been insulated from the trend toward secularism. As I have travelled around the Diocese I have found much that is good, especially the deep commitment and faith of those who worship regularly. It is a matter of great concern that our congregations are aging. I suspect the average age of our congregations is close to sixty."

He added, "The Diocese of Bunbury is not alone in this, nor is the Anglican Church alone. The senior Roman Catholic bishop in England recently stated that England could no longer be regarded as a Christian country. The same can be said for Australia ... The early Church faced a very similar situation."

Archbishop Chaput of Denver notes on page 11 of this edition of AD2000 that contemporary Western culture is also characterised by "a crisis in personal moral character" which has contributed to the financial and sexual scandals accompanying the upsurge of individualism and secularism. It is clear that materialism does not - and cannot - meet the deepest needs of the human heart and spirit.

We have many things going for us: in Pope John Paul II a spiritual leader who has personally confronted and defeated regimes based on rejection of God, and provided answers to modern society's contested issues. His leadership over nearly 25 years has witnessed a significant recovery of Christianity in Eastern Europe, and substantial growth in Africa, Asia and Latin America.

The recovery in our own society will take longer. It will depend on our response: our faithfulness, and our willingness, through prayer, sacrifice, example and initiative, to establish the Kingdom of God.

Peter Westmore is Publisher of AD2000.

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Reprinted from AD2000 Vol 15 No 11 (December 2002 - January 2003), p. 2

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