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Christianity in Europe Challenged by Growing Secularism

"All attempts to censure and remove the Christian roots and tradition that have made Europe are not only a sin of ignorance against culture, but constitute a lack of observation of a historical fact."
( [email protected] ) Jun 02, 2004 01:22 PM EDT

VALENCIA, Spain -- During a seminar for professors held at the Catholic University of Valencia, Monday, May 21, a Uruguayan theologian addressed the problem of today’s Christianity – laicism – and how detrimental it is to the current spiritual state of Europe.

Along with a Vatican aide who warned that in an age when religion is increasingly marginalized, many Christians with duties in public life "end up by living in a schizophrenic way,” Guzmán Carriquiry, undersecretary of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, also noted that nowadays there is "an aggressive resurgence of secularism, which is different from true laicism."

"We Christians affirm true laicism as the authentic distinction between church and state," said Carriquiry. "But secularism tries to marginalize the Church from social, economic and cultural life, as if it had nothing to say; secularism seeks the removal and progressive marginalization of Christianity."

Going deeper into the roots of secularism, Carriquiry explained that it is "an outdated, very old, idea whose arguments are incapable of giving a foundation, a soul, a mystical dimension to the building of Europe. This is why Europe seems tired and old."

"How are we going to achieve the unity of Europe without foundations that ensure strong cohesion?" he asked. "How can we build a political entity without a mystical component that motivates it?"

"All attempts to censure and remove the Christian roots and tradition that have made Europe are not only a sin of ignorance against culture, but constitute a lack of observation of a historical fact," Carriquiry added.

Carriquiry, one of the laymen with the highest responsibilities in the Holy See, said that Catholics are also "disciples and witnesses of Christ" in public life.

"The encounter with Christ changes our relations with our spouse, with our children, the way of approaching our professional work, our leisure, the use of money, friendships. This encounter changes our lives, makes them more human," Carriquiry said.

"To reduce this experience to the private sphere is to put impossible limits on the grace of God, which changes life and the way of looking at reality, which commits us to live in all directions, which gives us a particular view of society, politics, culture and profession," he observed.

He made an interesting remark by saying that "many Christians with responsibilities in political and university life end up by living in a schizophrenic way" in the present day.

"On one hand they maintain their faith with pious practices, including important ones, such as sacramental practices, but disconnected from their public commitments. One does not perceive the real influence of the faith in their lives and they live in an anonymous way, assimilated to the 'worldly' culture of the environments in which they circulate," he said.

Carriquiry added: "We need to form a new generation that lives holiness in all the dimensions of life, that lives, not with a vague Christian inspiration devoid of contents, but with a faith lived as a novelty of life and of proposals."