Europe a Wing, Not the Center

 … where Christianity is concerned. According to Pope Benedict, who offered a reflection on St Ephrem today:

According to general opinion, Christianity is a European religion that has exported the culture of this continent to other countries. The reality, though, is a lot more complex, as the root of the Christian religion is found in the Old Testament, and therefore in Jerusalem and the Semitic world.

Its expansion during the first centuries was both westward — toward the Greek-Latin world, where it then inspired the European culture — and eastward to Persia and India, thus contributing to stimulate a specific culture, in Semitic languages, with its own identity.

General opinion can be reinforced by the sometimes myopic perspective of Christians themselves. Some forms of American evangelicalism might find inspiration in their own take on the Old Testament, lensed through the American experience, as distinctive or set apart from European roots. Because of persecution and other social aspects, I suppose that was more or less necessary.

Rome might be part of the problem itself. We are one of a number of “traditional” churches arising from these Semitic roots, yet our Gallican, Mozarabic, Ambrosian, and other traditions have been subsumed into a Roman framework (some would say monolith).

Roman Catholics do little enough to discredit the notion with their (at times) shocking ignorance of Eastern traditions both in Communion with Rome and otherwise.

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About catholicsensibility

Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
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