When the conclave to elect the pope was held earlier this year, more than 6,000 journalists gathered in Rome to discuss why nobody was interested in the Catholic Church anymore. Irony, it seems, isn’t big with contemporary media.
Whether you like it or not, religion is not of the past but is the key ingredient on the menu of modern and future politics and public life. And if you doubt me, observe the staggeringly large crowds in Brazil gathered for World Youth Day.
The North American and European chattering classes may swoon over the late Christopher Hitchens and pretend to have read Richard Dawkins, but nobody is going to die, or live in the real sense, for secular humanism and atheistic materialism. The dynamic, the driving force of, in particular, younger people is religion.
Shocked, incredulous, even angry at what I just said? Fine, be happy in your denial. But if you think, for example, that people are fighting in Egypt, Syria and Iraq for relativism or liberalism, you have no understanding of the greater world.
In Brazil this week, millions are swarming around Pope Francis for World Youth Day, not because they embrace either the free market or state socialism and not because they are liberal or conservative. No, it’s because they acknowledge him as the direct successor to St. Peter, given the keys of the kingdom by Jesus Christ, the son of God, while the messiah was here on Earth among us.
You might reject this — and thank goodness you have that right in the west — but you’re naive if you assume that because you don’t go to church anymore because you’d rather watch Big Brother than listen to Big God, it means you represent the majority.
What characterizes establishment thinking in Toronto, Ottawa or Calgary is not what symbolizes mass opinion in Moscow, Cairo, Lagos and Rio. This is sloppy solipsism. In other words, the self-obsessed notion that because you and your friends think something, everybody else does as well.
Population and power are changing the world, and the future is with those areas where religion is more influential than ever. World Youth Day is huge almost beyond imagination. Even when it was in Toronto, we saw crowds of an unprecedented size. Ignore the soiled propaganda issued each year around the gay pride parade; if you want to see a million and more people, look not to pride but to humility. World Youth Day in the Philippines assembled 5 million people for the papal mass!
Feel smug about laughing at evangelicals if it makes you happy, smirk at Catholic moral beliefs if it gets you through the day, pretend you’re not afraid of Muslim triumphalism, even imagine that Russian Orthodoxy is less vibrant than American cynicism.
But whether you like it or not, religion is not going away and the world of the future will be a lot more God-centred than you might like.
I would advise you to pray, but that would defeat the purpose of course. Maybe just sit back, hold tight and enjoy the journey, and hope the religious are more forgiving than the faithless.
Welcome to the Blog! I am a Catholic Priest and was ordained to the priesthood on August 26, 2000. I hope this site is a place of interest for you where you will find ideas and information on the Catholic faith and the Church.