GDC then turns to consider briefly the religious factors in the modern field, both the rejection of religion and the rise of new ways of looking at religion:
22. Amongst the elements which make up the cultural heritage of a people, religious and moral factors are of particular interest to the sower. There is in contemporary culture a persistent spread of religious indifference: “Many however of our contemporaries …either do not at all perceive, or else explicitly reject, this intimate and vital bond of man to God”.(32)
Atheism, understood as a negation of God, “must therefore be regarded as one of the most serious problems of our time”.(33) While it can take various forms, it often appears today under the guise of secularism, which consists in an excessively autonomous view of man and of the world “according to which it is entirely self-explanatory without any reference to God”.(34) In the specifically religious sphere there are signs of “a return to the sacred”,(35) of a new thirst for transcendent reality and for the divine. The contemporary world acknowledges in a more comprehensive and vital way “the renewed interest in religious research”.(36) Certainly this phenomenon “is not without ambiguity”.(37) The widespread growth of sects and new religious movements and the revival of “fundamentalism” (38) are factors of serious concern for the Church and require careful analysis.
Atheism was clearly a concern back in 1965, before Catholics tussled with the prominent atheists of the 21st century.
Despite the hand-wringing about “new age” practices, is there something this tells us about the lack of connections between modern laity and institutional or traditional Christianity? Is it enough to blame those who “thirst for transcendent reality and for the divine,” but who don’t find it in the Catholic Church? Is an insistent scholastic philosophy really enough? I don’t think so. Can anyone make a case for it?
- (32) Gaudium et Spes 19.
- (33) Gaudium et Spes 19.
- (34) Evangelii Nuntiandi 55; cf. Libertatis Conscientia41 and Gaudium et Spes 19.
- (35) Synod (1985), II, A 1.
- (36) Christifedeles Laici 4.
- (37) Cf. Redemptoris Missio 38.
- (38) Centesimus Annus 29 and 46c.