By Diogenes ( articles ) | Aug 21, 2005
The Sydney Morning Herald seems a bit put out by the insinuation that Australia is mission territory:
The Pope has issued a dire warning about the state of religious faith in Australia, saying mainstream Christianity is dying more quickly here than in any other country. In remarks to priests in Italy, Benedict XVI spoke of a crisis for the main Christian churches as people in the Western world felt self-sufficient, with less need for Christ and Christianity.
"Certainly this is a suffering linked to the present historical moment in which generally one sees that the so-called mainstream churches appear moribund," he said. "This is so in Australia, above all, and also in Europe, but not so much in the United States."
He told the priests in the Italian Alpine diocese of Aosta that the Catholic Church was not as badly off as the mainstream Protestant churches, which were in a " profound crisis" because of sects. ... The source of his information about Australia is not known.
Well, as to the last point, Pope Benedict may have been guided by the observations made by Australia's own cardinal, George Pell,when he was still Archbishop of Melbourne in 1999:
Two of the most significant changes in Australian religious life during the last 30 or 40 years have been the rise in the number of people who say they do not belong to any religious group (most of whom are not ex-Catholics) and the decline in regular worship by Catholics. In Melbourne this decline is running at the rate of 1-2% each year. We hope to change this. On occasion I have described this as the rise of the "R.C.'s" — resting, relaxed or reluctant Catholics.
On this basis the [Australian bishops'] Statement of Conclusions claims that the Church in Australia is part of a world-wide crisis of faith, stronger in the Western World than in many other places. This claim is justified and we can no longer presume that most people, especially the young and middle aged, will find that belief in the one true God comes easily. ...The Australian temptation is not to crucify Christ, but to trivialize Him.
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