The Church in God's hands

Zdjęcie: E.Sądej/ Nasz Dziennik

Pontificate in the light of apocalyptic times

Niedziela, 17 lutego 2013 (12:51)

A rich heritage of Holy Father’s teachings and an accurate judgment of a contemporary human are the most characteristic features of Benedict XVI’s work for the Church. Professor Massimo Introvigne, an Italian sociologist and the head of Observatory of Religious Freedom and Center for Studies on New Religions (CESNUR) – sees the Pope’s unexpected resignation as “apocalyptic„.


By this word, Professor Introvigne does not mean the ever-present in the media information on the end of the world or false prophets’ predictions that have little in common with a Catholic outlook. In his opinion, the word “apocalyptic” refers to the contemporary time, extremely difficult for both Church and society. It also refers to the particularly strong dechristianization process we are presently witnessing, the sociologist declares.


Massimo Introvigne puts stress on Benedict XVI’s wide attitude towards reality and Church. He reminds that the Holy Father during his potificate has mostly taken up two messages – the one from Fatima and the prophecy of Saint Hildegard of Bingen, a Doctor of the Church. He perceives the Holy Father’s resignation strictly within the context of the two above. He sees the Fatima revelation as the background of the decision. “The Fatima revelation contains the judgment over history, especially the modern history„, he declares and quotes a fragment of Benedict XVI’s homily delivered during his visit to this Marian sanctuary. “The tragedies predicted in Fatima have not passed with the end of communist ideology. The crisis has not been solved. From a certain point of view, it has never been as severe as it is today, because nowadays it is a crisis of faith, thus, a moral and social crisis.”


Introvigne draws our attention to the third part of the Fatima mystery – so called “gun shots„ discussed not only in the context of attack on Pope John Paul II (on which future Pope Benedict XVI commented as early as in 2000), but also in a wider perspective. Namely, he has in mind attacks on the Church, coming both from outside and inside of it. Benedict XVI pointed this out in 2010. The Italian sociologist also quotes a fragment of  Saint Hildegard of Bingen’s vision from 1170, when the saint, sick but fully aware, saw a beautiful woman in bright but covered with dust gown symbolizing sins of people, but also sins of priests.


Professor Introvigne names the most important events of Benedict XVI’s pontificate, including his speech in Ratyzbone on September 12, 2006 and the Spe Salvi encyclical. In the encyclical the Pope precisely described why we had found ourselves in the depth of the process taking us away from the synthesis of faith and reason, which the Christian Europe had build over the centuries through prayer, work and study. Consequently, the encyclical names four main forces which put us in danger, one of it being Martin Luther’s philosophy. Luther, a typical for Renaissance confessor of rationalism,  rejected reason and took up dangerous fideism. This started the destruction of the medieval Christianity. Other forces that put Christianity in danger were, according to the encyclical, iluminism and 19th century ideologies, evolving into “bloody machines of tyranny and oppression”. The fourth force threatening the Church is the contemporary nihilism coming along with aggressive relativism, which is becoming more and more alike dictatorship and attacks on sanctuaries of life and family. Introvigne, while talking about the Holy Father’s many teachings, points out the encyclical Caritas in Veritae, in which Benedict XVI described the transformation of politics into dictatorship of relativism. “Today, social problems radically become anthropological problems„, he cites the Holy Father’s words.


Professor Introvigne observes that one of the essential aspect of Benedict XVI’s teachings has been the question of religious freedom. The Pope has talked about it in his homilies and speeches to the people, his closest coworkers, and to the diplomatic corpus. He has mentioned it in his messages and addresses. He has made several observations on the negation of religious freedom in Europe and in the Western countries and warned of it. “In his speech to the Roman Curia of 21 December 2012, the Pope indicated that gender ideology, assuming that we do not possess male or female nature, but can just pick one up, comes as the terminal phase of our civilization’s sickness”, Introvigne declared.





Agnieszka Gracz