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Archbishop speaks on religous trends

Laura McCrystal | Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The influence of the Catholic Church in Europe is declining as a result of secularization, said Archbishop Angelo Amato in a lecture Monday night.

Amato, who was appointed by Pope Benedict XVI last July to oversee the canonization of Catholic saints, delivered Notre Dame’s annual Terrence M. Keeley Vatican lecture sponsored by the Nanovic Institute for European Studies.

Secularization is a trend in which people feel “emancipated from religious bonds,” he said. Secularism, a worldwide problem because it does not accept religion as an important reality, is especially apparent in Central and Western Europe, he said.

With secularization, Amato said that economics, politics, and bio-technology in Modern Europe become detached from religion and morality.

“In this panorama, the influence of Christianity on social life is greatly weakened,” he said.

While some people argue that Modern Europe does not need to rely on its Christian roots, Amato disagrees. He said the Church has always contributed to European civilization.

“Europe cannot be understood without Christianity,” he said. “It loses its originality and identity,”

Amato said he hopes Europe will blend tradition with its modern views so that it will find a greater respect for democracy, freedom, and the dignity of the human being in the future.

Christianity is therefore not only a link to Europe’s roots, but it is also a solution for the future, he said.

“Christianity is the basis of modern thought and morality,” he said. “Europe must profess itself to be Christian.”

Amato said hope for the future is present in the Catholic Church and the Gospel message.

“The attitude of the Church toward contemporary Europe reflects the Gospel teaching of love,” he said. “The source of hope for all of Europe is Christ.”

Amato said the Church must proclaim the Gospel and make it present in areas of society such as politics and mass media.

He said that he is also optimistic about the future due to the strong faith of European youth who embrace Christian mentality more than the preceding generation.

“The solution is that Gospel, to the Christian, be a strong identity,” he said.