Secularisation: Not the problem
I have to agree with English Bishop Kieran Conry, who recently questioned Pope Benedict's creation of a new evangelization council because it seems to imply that secularization--rather than the church's own failures--is at the heart of declining numbers of Catholics in Europe and elsewhere.
"My own personal opinion — I would stress that this is a personal opinion — is that I am not entirely convinced by this secularization argument. It suggests that the church's problems are external, in other words society has gone wrong, but the church is fine," he told the BBC on Sunday.
Evangelization, or spreading the Good News, is the whole point of the church, he said, but the church isn't doing it very well. It needs "to become a little more tolerant, accessible, welcoming, compassionate. All the things that, for many people, it is not."
It really perplexes me when people complain about secularisation. I've become quite convinced that people who complain about secularisation don't really know what they're complaining about, or what they would "replace" it with. (I would even argue that it has been good for religion in some ways, in that it has forced a lot of people to grow up spiritually. That is the problem the magisterium needs to address, but doesn't want to, or can't.)
What convinced me of this was Charles Taylor's massively important book, A Secular Age, which I read earlier this summer. I haven't gotten around to writing about it yet--it's 776 pages of very dense prose, not including the endnotes, so it's not the easiest book to review--but I'll try to say something about it soon.