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Patrick Buchanan
Pat Buchanan
22 Jul 2014
The Day of the Hawk

The bombing of Pan Am 103 over Lockerbie was premeditated mass murder. Gadhafi was taking revenge for Reagan'… Read More.

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A Godly Man in an Ungodly Age

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"To govern the bark of Saint Peter and proclaim the Gospel, both strength of mind and body are necessary, strength which in the last few months, has deteriorated in me to the extent that I have had to recognize my incapacity to adequately fulfill the ministry entrusted to me."

With those brave, wise, simple words, Benedict XVI announced an end of his papacy. How stands the Church he has led for eight years?

While he could not match the charisma of his predecessor, John Paul II, his has been a successful papacy. He restored some of the ancient beauty and majesty to the liturgy. He brought back to the fold separated Anglican brethren. The Church is making converts in sub-Saharan Africa. And in America, new traditionalist colleges and seminaries have begun to flourish.

That is looking back eight years. Looking back half a century, to that October day in 1962 when Pope John XXIII declared the opening of Vatican II, the Church appears to have been in a decline that, in parts of the world, seems to be leading to near extinction.

At Vatican II, the Rev. Joseph Ratzinger, the future Benedict XVI, was among the reformers who were going to bring the church into the modern world. The encounter did not turn out well.

In 1965, three in four American Catholics attended Sunday mass. Today, it is closer to one in four. The number of priests has fallen by a third, of nuns by two-thirds. Orders like the Christian Brothers have virtually vanished. The Jesuits are down to a fraction of their strength in the 1950s.

Parochial schools teaching 4.5 million children in the early 1960s were teaching a third of that number at the end of the century. Catholic high schools lost half their enrollment. Churches have been put up for sale to pay diocesan debts.

And the predator-priest sex-abuse scandal, with the offenses dating back decades, continues to suppurate and stain her reputation and extract billions from the Sunday collections of the abiding faithful.

The highest-ranking Catholic politicians, Vice President Joe Biden and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, support same-sex marriage and belong to a party whose platform calls for funding abortions to the day of birth. Catholic teaching on contraception, divorce and sexual morality is openly mocked.

Yet, while colleges like Georgetown appear Catholic in name only, others — like Christendom in Front Royal, Va., St. Thomas More in Merrimack, N.H, and St.

Thomas Aquinas near Los Angeles — have picked up the torch.

Among Catholics, there has long been a dispute over the issue: Did Vatican II cause the crisis in the Church, or did the council merely fail to arrest what was an inevitable decline with the triumph of the counterculture of the 1960s?

As one looks around the world and back beyond the last half-century, it seems that Catholicism and Christianity have been in a centuries-long retreat. In the mid-19th century, Matthew Arnold wrote in "Dover Beach":

The Sea of Faith

Was once, too, at the full, and round earth's shore

Lay like the folds of a bright girdle furled.

But now I only hear

Its melancholy, long, withdrawing roar ...

In Christianity's cradle, the Holy Land and the Near East, from Egypt to Afghanistan, Christians are subjected to persecution and pogroms, as their numbers dwindle. In Latin America, the Church has been losing congregants for decades.

In Europe, Christianity is regarded less as the founding faith of the West and the wellspring of Western culture and civilization, than as an antique; a religion that European Man once embraced before the coming of the Enlightenment. Many cathedrals on the continent have taken on the aspect of Greek and Roman temples — places to visit and marvel at what once was, and no longer is.

The Faith is Europe, Europe is the Faith, wrote Hilaire Belloc. And when the faith dies, the culture dies, the civilization dies, and the people die. So historians and poets alike have written.

Surely that seems true in Europe. In the 16th, 17th, 18th and 19th centuries, Western Man, under the banners of God and country, conquered almost the entire world. But now that Christianity has died in much of the West, the culture seems decadent, the civilization in decline.

And the people have begun to die. No Western nation has had a birth rate in three decades that will enable its native-born to survive.

Dispensing with Christianity, Western peoples sought new gods and new faiths: communism, Leninism, fascism, Nazism. Those gods all failed.

Now we have converted to even newer faiths to create paradise in this, the only world we shall ever know. Democratic capitalism, consumerism, globalism, environmentalism, egalitarianism.

The Secular City seems to have triumphed over the City of God. But in the Islamic world, an ancient and transcendental faith is undergoing a great awakening after centuries of slumber and seems anxious to re-engage and settle accounts with an agnostic West.

As ever, the outcome of the struggle for the world is in doubt.

Patrick J. Buchanan is the author of "Suicide of a Superpower: Will America Survive to 2025?" To find out more about Patrick Buchanan and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.

COPYRIGHT 2013 CREATORS.COM



Comments

2 Comments | Post Comment
Jesus came to tell us about our greatness and the power we have over evil by trusting in God and not in ourselves or man. Get that? Not by trusting in man. He came that we would serve God and find joy and happiness in his creation. He did not come so great religions could form and we could serve their laws and their rituals and their high priests. That's what Pagans do.
Contrary to what you may think or believe, there are many Christians serving God, loving God and their fellow man and all God's creatures. We believe Jesus came to empower people not religion or religious leaders.
We love all God's creations and we are the people your great religion reviles.
Comment: #1
Posted by: morgan
Tue Feb 12, 2013 5:30 AM
Birthrates have changed a lot and could go up again among white people even without religions which try to outbreed the competition. Today's technology could provide families with better housing, shorter workweeks and higher incomes instead of making their jobs disappear, and that may induce them to have more children. Stronger unions and tariffs would help.
"In the 16th, 17th, 18th and 19th centuries, Western Man, under the banners of God and country, conquered almost the entire world. But now that Christianity has died in much of the West, the culture seems decadent, the civilization in decline." The capitalism, science and technology in Western Europe which enabled those conquests had nothing to do with Christianity, let alone Catholicism. (I note that, relative to the size of his home country, Alexander the Great conquered more without religious overtones. Moreover, his conquests had fewer negative and more positive long term effects than European colonialism.)
Mr. Buchanan is unfair to Christianity by associating it with the conquest, the expropriation and in some places, extermination of peoples, and the monstrous aberration of New World slavery. I also note that in the last 67 years Europeans fought hardly any wars against each other, which never happened when Christianity reigned supreme.
Comment: #2
Posted by: Peter Ungar
Tue Feb 12, 2013 2:28 PM
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