Archbishop Di Noia warns of “internal secularization” within Church, individual Catholics

The Catholic Beat has a report on a recent address given by Archbishop J. Augustine Di Noia, OP, at the Athenaeum of Ohio/Mt. St. Mary’s Seminary of the West this past Wednesday. The address was the Athenaeum’s annual Le Blond Lecture; in it, Archbishop DI Noia emphasized that 

the Church today faces one over-arching problem and must combat it with one message.

The problem, he said, “internal secularization” — not a fight from without by the forces of secularization, but a fight from within the Church and indeed within each Catholic, as secular ideas become the unquestioned way of thinking about the world.

The many Catholics who live together before (or instead of) marriage, or who scatter the ashes of the dead or keep them on their mantles rather than burying them, exemplify this problem, he said. They don’t do these things in defiance of the Church, they do them without any comprehension that they are morally wrong. They have lost their underlying sense of what is sacred.

“It is a very big mistake to blame the culture,” he said. “The culture is inside.”

And though the New Evangelization called for by Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI (and even by Paul VI) has many tasks, +Di Noia says its main task is to communicate the message “that the Triune God, for reasons utterly mysterious and unknowable, desires communion with creaturely beings — that God desires this more than anyone has ever desired anything” and that only Christ and His Church can bring about that communion.

“We have nothing else to say but that,” he said. “Nothing else to offer.”

The Archbishop further noted that the message—the good news, or gospel—of real and transforming communion with the Triune God is unique among all religions, even other monotheistic religions.

Even Protestants fail to deliver it, focusing instead on rescue from sin. “Rescue for what?” he said. For communion with God through Christ by means of the Church. It is that communion, and that alone, that will restore people to their correct relationship with God.

Read the entire report on The Catholic Beat website. The longer quote about communion with God brings to mind the opening paragraph of the Catechism, which is, I think, the interpretive key for that magisterial text:

God, infinitely perfect and blessed in himself, in a plan of sheer goodness freely created man to make him share in his own blessed life. For this reason, at every time and in every place, God draws close to man. He calls man to seek him, to know him, to love him with all his strength. He calls together all men, scattered and divided by sin, into the unity of his family, the Church. To accomplish this, when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son as Redeemer and Savior. In his Son and through him, he invites men to become, in the Holy Spirit, his adopted children and thus heirs of his blessed life. (CCC, par 1)

Read more on the USCCB site.

If you value the news and views Catholic World Report provides, please consider donating to support our efforts. Your contribution will help us continue to make CWR available to all readers worldwide for free, without a subscription. Thank you for your generosity!

Click here for more information on donating to CWR. Click here to sign up for our newsletter.

About Carl E. Olson 1190 Articles
Carl E. Olson is editor of Catholic World Report and Ignatius Insight. He is the author of Did Jesus Really Rise from the Dead?, Will Catholics Be "Left Behind"?, co-editor/contributor to Called To Be the Children of God, co-author of The Da Vinci Hoax (Ignatius), and author of the "Catholicism" and "Priest Prophet King" Study Guides for Bishop Robert Barron/Word on Fire. His recent books on Lent and Advent—Praying the Our Father in Lent (2021) and Prepare the Way of the Lord (2021)—are published by Catholic Truth Society. He is also a contributor to "Our Sunday Visitor" newspaper, "The Catholic Answer" magazine, "The Imaginative Conservative", "The Catholic Herald", "National Catholic Register", "Chronicles", and other publications. Follow him on Twitter @carleolson.