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By Phil Lawler (bio - articles - email) | Sep 07, 2009

 Pope Benedict has added a useful new term to the Catholic lexicon: "self-secularization." 

It's a problem when society lurches toward secularism, and begins to fear any public expression of religious faith. But it's an even greater problem when Church leaders, too, begin to march to the beat of the secular drummers, and see their own existence in the terms posed by the secular world. 

Just one aspect  of that greater problem, the Pope told Brazilian bishops, is that Catholic educators begin to explain the faith to children in worldly terms, and the young people who are "born into this secularized ecclesial environment" are not prepared to understand, nor to appreciate, the Church's call to transcendence. 

In other words, if the Church fights only a rear-guard action against the forces of secularism, justifying Catholic faith and practice only in secular terms-- apologies rather than apologetics, as it were-- rising generation will not even understand the nature of the conflict, and the struggle will be lost. 

Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at See full bio.

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