Cardinal Sarah warns of Church’s ‘practical atheism’

practical atheism

Cardinal Robert Sarah has raised concerns about the rise of ‘practical atheism’ within the Catholic Church.

Practical atheism does not deny God or reject God outright the cardinal said, but it removes God from the centre of life.

Speaking at The Catholic University of America in Washington DC, the Cardinal warned that this form of atheism is gaining traction among clergy and laypeople alike.

This mindset, he noted, has permeated Europe where Catholicism once thrived but is now waning. More worryingly, he said it has begun to take root within the Church itself.

He reflected on the legacy of Pope St John Paul II, who played a crucial role in the downfall of Soviet Communism which sought to impose atheism. However, Cardinal Sarah emphasised that while ideological atheism has diminished, the threat now comes from within, manifesting as a ‘practical atheism’ that renders God irrelevant in daily life.

“How often do we hear from theologians, priests, religious and even some bishops — or bishops conferences — that we need to adjust our moral theology for considerations that are only human” he said.

Yet “a Church based on human resolutions” the cardinal warned “becomes only a human church”.

Confusion and dilution of core beliefs

“To be Catholic is more than a culture identification, it is a profession of faith. It has a particular content of faith. To move outside that content, both in belief and practice, is to move outside of faith” the cardinal said.

He warned against considering all voices within the Church equally legitimate, which he believes could lead to confusion and a dilution of core beliefs. “As Cardinal Ratzinger said: ‘A faith we can decide for ourselves is no faith at all’.”

None of the proponents of this paradigm shift within the Church “reject God outright, but they treat Revelation as secondary, or at least on equal footing with experience and modern science” the cardinal said.

“This is how practical atheism works. It does not deny God but functions as if God is not central.”

Addressing the Church’s future, Cardinal Sarah called on US bishops to defend the faith and uphold the centrality of Jesus Christ.

He praised the vitality of the American Church, contrasting it with Europe.

“The United States is not like Europe. The faith is still young and maturing. This young vitality is a gift to the Church” he said.

“Your seminaries have largely been reformed, lay apostolates are breathing new life into the faith and there are pockets of life in parishes” he observed.


National Catholic Register



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