Are we Catholics relevant in the world?

Italian vaticanista Paolo Rodari has a good piece (in Italian) on his site.  It had been published in Il Foglio.

This is about comments of the retired but not retiring former Vicar of Rome, His Eminence Camillo Card. Ruini.  

The article is good, and I hope you read Italian.

But here is a couple bit which I have time to translate.

Anyone who knows well Cardinal Camillo Ruini says that all his of thought can be summed up by the phrase repeated for the last time in March 2007, when he had just left his post as the head of the Italian Bishops Conference and applied himself to work exclusively on a cultural project for the Italian Church: "If we Christians resign ourselves to being a ‘subculture’, in a world which looks down from the rooftops, then nothing can save us.  It is true that challenges to the Church are growing.  But it is preferable to be challenged than to be irrelevant."

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in Our Catholic Identity, SESSIUNCULA, The future and our choices and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. pseudomodo says:

    Are you in Vancouver now?

  2. Not that that has ANYTHING to do with the entry, but yes.

  3. pseudomodo says:

    Welcome to our frozen wasteland!

  4. Massachusetts Catholic says:

    I wish Catholics were relevant! The high school in Concord, Mass. is putting on a play “Falsetto” which focuses on homosexuality and adultery. Last year the same high school hosted performances of the “Vagina Monologues.” There was no outcry from Catholics or the other churches. A conservative group, Mass Resistance, has tried to rally opposition to the play. It has been labeled a “hate group.” The local newspaper just ran a story on the controversy:

    This is what happens when Catholics and Christians retreat from the public square: the floodgates open. It’s bad enough when plays like this are put on at Notre Dame, but at a public high school there are 14 and 15 year olds getting this education at taxpayers expense.

  5. Agellius says:

    “If we Christians resign ourselves to being a ‘subculture’, in a world which looks down from the rooftops, then nothing can save us.”

    This is precisely what I meant in a previous comment about tradition-minded Catholics resigning themselves to being merely a subculture within the Church, or within various Catholic institutions and organizations. We must not give up on making tradition the norm, rather than resign ourselves to being merely a tolerated subcategory.

  6. Melania says:

    Of course, I’m in complete agreement with the Cardinal. It has never been the way of Cathollicism to be resigned to being a subculture. It can’t be. Our mission, from Christ, is to convert the world. Of late, too many of us have allowed the world to convert us.

    We need to be proactive, not merely defensive or reactive.

    Fr. Z is right that the first and most important step is getting our worship right. And we need solid, orthodox catechesis to be in place. These two provide the solid platform from which all other efforts flow.

    For being proactive, I think Fr. Robert Barron’s “The Catholic Project” is a step in the right direction. Here’s the latest trailer:

    Too many people I know think that abortion, homosexual “marriage,” etc. are all inevitable and will be permanent. But these are elements of “the culture of death” leading to the destruction of our society and culture. We can already see it.

    Slowly, more people even in the artistic community are coming to realize this. I saw recently that Mary Karr, the poet and author of “The Liars’ Club” etc., converted to Catholicism. An interesting conversion story. Here’s the link:

    Circumstances are forcing us all out of our complacency. It can only be a blessing.

  7. catholicmidwest says:

    The Catholic Church is relevant because she’s the tool used by God to maintain his action in the world. She’s the conduit of grace and an illumination of truth in the world. This is true, although the persons who occupy positions in the church are often deeply flawed and often do not carry out her wishes and realize her purposes.

    That said, I believe the Catholic church is not “relevant” in the rather modern way most Catholics would like to believe or think she is. There are millions and millions of people who’ve never set foot in a Catholic church and most of them never will, for one reason or another. The Catholic church has rather little to say about the temporal motives of the world at large or her normal manner of operation, and to think she does is a little silly.

    God’s grace is still operant in the world, of course, and although the Church is still the conduit, the old-fashioned calibration for effects is different. The effects of grace are many, all of them oriented towards salvation, but not all of them are fully effective due to the action of man’s free will and man’s circumstances (inside & outside the church). Never has this been so evident as it is now.

    There are many people who’ve always been Catholic who see everything through a Catholic (and sometimes rather ethnic) lens, and they often think that the Church has much more say about temporal matters than it does. Those days ended 500 years ago. They need to catch up.

  8. catholicmidwest says:

    The truth is that Catholicism is a subculture and has been so for at least 500 years. If Catholicism, in general, strives to become more than a subculture, then it is going to have to put some things into place in order to accomplish that, and it’s going to have to pay attention to the world in order to grasp an appropriate time in which to accomplish that. However…..

    This “lollygagging around for decades over a single translation” kind of behavior doesn’t say, “I’m out to change the world.” Nor do many, many, many other examples of Catholic behavior from the offices in Rome, all the way down to the Catholic school down the street. I just don’t see this sort of thing happening anytime soon if what you are talking about is the change from being a temporal subculture to being a temporal worldwide movement.

    Perhaps the kingdom is supposed to occur not in government offices but in souls which are known to God alone? Perhaps “converting the world” means making sure everyone has heard of us (God working through us) and been given a plausible opportunity to grasp Catholicism in some way defined by Dominus Iesus, the document of a few years ago. Perhaps “converting the world” doesn’t mean that every single person becomes Catholic in the old world sense, even if some will.

Comments are closed.