Pope Benedict XVI vs. Secularism


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ABSTRACTNCRegister | Pope Benedict XVI vs. Secularism Print Edition:  March 10, 2013 Sign-up for our E-letter!   Donate Archives Blogs Store Resources Advertise Jobs Radio Subscribe Make This My Homepage Resources Arts & Entertainment Books Commentary Culture of Life Education In Person News Opinion Sunday Guides Travel Vatican Dan Burke Jeanette DeMelo Edward Pentin Mark Shea Matthew Warner Jimmy Akin Matt & Pat Archbold Simcha Fisher Tito Edwards Jennifer Fulwiler Steven D. Greydanus Tim Drake Tom Wehner Our Latest Show About the Show About the Register Donate Subscribe Stations Schedule Other EWTN Shows Advertising Overview Editorial Calendar Order Web Ad Order Print Ad Print Article | Email Article | Write To Us Print Edition » Commentary Pope Benedict XVI vs. Secularism Tweet by Benjamin Wiker Saturday, Mar 09, 2013 6:47 AM Comments (1) I think it will be some years before we understand how great a legacy Pope Benedict XVI will be leaving us. Part of that legacy to be especially treasured will be the Pope’s reflections on the dangers of the increasingly aggressive secular state. His warning: In the West, and now especially in the United States, the state is increasingly pushing a secular agenda. Pushing that agenda through means driving the Church, not just out of the public square, but out of the culture. The threat to religious liberty is very, very real. In January 2012, Pope Benedict addressed U.S. bishops from Baltimore, Washington and the Archdiocese for the Military Services during their ad limina pilgrimage to Rome, telling them, "It is imperative that the entire Catholic community in the United States comes to realize the grave threats to the Church’s public moral witness presented by a radical secularism which finds increasing expression in the political and cultural spheres. The seriousness of these threats needs to be clearly appreciated at every level of ecclesial life. Of particular concern are certain attempts being made to limit that most cherished of American freedoms: the freedom of religion." At about the same time that the Pope was warning the U.S. bishops (and, indirectly, all Americans) about the threat to religious liberty by radical secularists, the Obama administration’s Department of Health and Human Services was busily illustrating it. That very January, the secretary of the HHS, Kathleen Sebelius, delivered a mandate informing all religious institutions — especially Catholic universities and hospitals — that they would have to provide contraceptives, abortifacients and sterilization in their insurance plans. The HHS mandate is not an isolated incident, but part of a larger, longer campaign by the secular-minded in Europe and America to shrink the presence and influence of Christianity in the world until it finally disappears from history, thereby reversing the effects of the Church’s 2,000-year evangelization. The Pope’s call for a New Evangelization — a redoubling of Pope John Paul II’s efforts — is made in the face of this very real threat. The fate of the Church in the third millennium depends in large part on our response to the active secularization that has done so much to erase Christianity during the final two centuries of the second millennium. In order to respond prayerfully, we need to comprehend the real scope of the secular threat. Benedict is a man deeply read in history, and so he understands very clearly that aggressive secularization has been gaining political ground since the horrors of brutal de-Christianization during the French Revolution. It happened in France; it happened in Russia and the Soviet satellites; it happened in other ways, with the imposition of the pseudo-religion of Nazism that took over his homeland, Bavaria; it continues today in all of Europe’s liberal democracies. And, as the Pope warned, secularization has come to the United States of America. Take down the Ten Commandments. No Bible reading in schools. No public prayer. Clear away the crèche. No "Merry Christmas." Affirm "gay marriage." And, as we’ve seen with the HHS mandate, "Thou shalt participate in the sexual revolution." The message of all such radical secularism is clear: "You will bend the knee before the state." The secular state often puts the message in more inviting terms, terms which should sound like a very familiar temptation: "If you will bend the knee before me, then I will give you all the splendor and pleasures of the world." Secularism is, by definition, the affirmation of this world and the rejection of the next. It is historically rooted in a materialism that denies the existence of God, the angels, the soul and the afterlife. Its fundamental "this-worldliness" is the source of secularism’s antagonism to the Church. As Pope Benedict has warned, this antagonism is often disguised as a beneficent affirmation of plurality. But when contemporary seculari.......