Throughout history, there have been moments that radically changed the way the world operated. The fall of Rome. Columbus landing in the “new world.” The French Revolution. How could the world be the same ever again?
I believe that we are living in such a moment in our Church: looking back 2000 years from now, historians will see the Second Vatican Council as one of the two or three most significant events in Church history, radically redefining life in the Church.
Why, do you ask? Because it was at that moment that the Church truly adopted a global mindset.
But the Church has always been global, you say. We’ve always been the “universal” Church, present around the world in many cultures in just the first few centuries. I think it’s hard for people to understand what I’m getting at here. I think this because I have had ten hours to read comments since this video was released, and I can see it clearly. Many people argue that there is no need for change, that the Church has always been global, that the Church does not need other cultures because it is above culture.
These opinions are very naive, if not borderline racist. The idea that the Church does not have a culture is just absurd.
It is true that the Church existed in many countries, but it is incorrect to assume that this made us a global Church. More accurately, we were a Roman Church inserted into other countries. The culture, worldview, theology, and of course, language, were all of a particular people. To be a Catholic in Asia, Africa, or Latin America prior to 1965 meant not only accepting Jesus Christ as your savior and the pope as the leader of the Church, but also accepting Latin as your language and Europeans as your law givers. Like so many things, the dominant culture was blind to the fact that it was even a culture because it failed to acknowledge that any others even existed or had anything worthy to offer. Everyone just assumed that the way Rome did things was normal.
As more and more bishops and cardinals from non-European countries have taken up leadership and raised their voices, the more we’ve seen how particular our Church existed for many years, and how important it is to have better global representation.
I truly believe that we are in one of the most prosperous times in the history of our Church. It is an exciting time to live. And that might sound strange to you given the issues we face. But that’s precisely my point: which issues? Closing churches, lack of faith, problems with secularism, scandals, low vocations? These are issues that Europe and North America are facing, not Asia, Africa, and South America. Too often our worldview gets too small and we think that we we experience is what everyone experiences. It is only with added voices and better representation that we get the whole picture.
If you find the Church’s outlook to be bleak, it might be time to broaden your view. The Church is changing, and I can’t wait to see how it grows.