Churches on Wane in Europe ; Bishops, Gathered in Rome, Want to Stem a Secular Tide. but Faith Itself Holds Strong

By Peter Ford, writer of The Christian Science Monitor | The Christian Science Monitor, October 25, 1999 | Go to article overview

Churches on Wane in Europe ; Bishops, Gathered in Rome, Want to Stem a Secular Tide. but Faith Itself Holds Strong


Peter Ford, writer of The Christian Science Monitor, The Christian Science Monitor


Could it be, as Christians around the globe prepare to celebrate the 2,000th anniversary of Jesus' birth, that in Europe, the hearth of Christian civilization, the embers are dying?

Europe's Roman Catholic bishops wrapped up a three-week synod in Rome on Saturday proclaiming their hope of warding off such a prospect. But they pointed to "the serious indifference to religion of so many Europeans ... the secularism which poisons a large section of Christians" as a dangerous sign. "There is a great risk of de-Christianization and paganization of the Continent" that "puts the cultural identity of Europe in jeopardy," warned the synod's working paper.

But while major Christian churches may be on the decline, few theologians or religious observers share the fear that Europe's millennial cultural values are seriously threatened.

"Cultural memories and patterns of living are so deeply embedded, it will be a long time before we find ourselves in a post-Christian Europe," says Grace Davie, a sociologist of religion at Exeter University in England.

"Institutional religiosity is on the decline, but personal religiosity is not in danger," adds Loek Halman, a Dutch scholar who runs Europe-wide studies of personal values. "People who leave their churches still go on searching for meaning. They may not be willing to accept traditional Christian beliefs, but that does not make them unbelievers."

Certainly the signs are not encouraging for the major Christian churches in Europe, which have seen their congregations and their priestly ranks shrink over the past half century.

Church attendance is still high in traditional Catholic countries such as Ireland and Italy, where nearly half the adult population goes to church at least once a month. But in countries like France, Belgium, and Germany, less than 10 percent of young people attend church regularly, and there is not a major city in northwestern Europe where even half the newborns are baptized. That prompted the bishops to end their meeting with a call "to undertake with great zeal and urgency the task of the new evangelization" - missionary work on the Continent from which missionaries once spread worldwide.

Tolerance for other views

But in a multicultural Europe, where "it is less and less possible to base pastoral programs on a presumed acceptance of a generally shared Christianity," as the bishops acknowledged, where Islam is on the rise, having outstripped Judaism as the second- largest European religion, and where tolerance of other people's views is a prime modern value, missionary work is not easy. "The real issue is how you evangelize a secularized Europe in pluralistic societies while still showing respect for other people's opinions," says the Rev. Jan Kerkhoss, a Jesuit priest and emeritus professor at the University of Leuven in Belgium. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Churches on Wane in Europe ; Bishops, Gathered in Rome, Want to Stem a Secular Tide. but Faith Itself Holds Strong
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.