Yesterday Toad asked an interesting question in the comment section. He was wondering whether the little use we have nowadays of kings and queens – comparing the symbolism to Christ the King, and Mary, Queen of Heaven – could be the reason why the Christian Faith is declining so fast in Europe (and here I would include the whole of the western world). This has provoked some deep thinking and interesting comments already. I see the topic as important enough to merit a separate post of its own.
Golden Chersonnese also gave us a fascinating link to an interview from the National Review with Mary Eberstadt, author of “How the West Really Lost God”. Please take the time to read the article to get a fuller picture of the whole scenario.
Certainly there must be reasons for the “decline in interest in Christianity in Europe generally” – for we all know there are still some strong pockets of faithful believers in this ‘Old Continent’. But if this evident general decline has anything to do with Toad’s suggestion (basically, the West’s rejection of kings and queens, hierarchy and, I suppose, authority in general) I believe it would be minimal; if it were the reason, the decline would have started a long time ago. We must look for the “reasons” elsewhere.
Golden’s link to Mary Eberstadt’s interview puts the main cause to be a clear decline in the family being the root cause of the religious decline among Christians.
Her argument is powerfully persuasive, and I believe she has hit the nail on the head… but why has there been a “family decline” in the first place?
Just a few personal ideas from a Catholic viewpoint for the possible causes for this; others may be able to identify other reasons:
Everyone would agree that the so-called ‘Sexual Revolution’ is definitely one of the main causes. It leaves no room for God’s Moral Law. Then the whole godless ‘culture of death’ (abortion, euthanasia, artificial contraception) follows suite. The consequences have been disastrous: less children, broken families, licentious living, etc.
The way the Vatican II Council was interpreted (although some would say, the Council itself) must definitely be one of the causes of the religious decline among Catholics in the West. It would be too much of a coincidence for the two things to have started at exactly the same time otherwise. Besides, so much was changed after VII, and when most Catholic devotions and piety flew away through the window, people were left feeling disorientated and bereft!
In this aftermath of the Council, the loss of the traditional “Mass of All Ages” for the Novus Ordo Mass in the vernacular shook the faith of many Catholics.
After the 60s the Faith was no longer taught properly anymore, except in a few isolated homes and elsewhere. Once children were not taught to know their Catholic Faith, how could they be expected to live and love it? They had been deprived of their Christian heritage. Those ‘children’ are today’s adults, who are not passing the Faith onto their own children. So the decline continues.
However not everything can be laid at the door of Vatican II, for the fall away from the Christian Faith has affected Protestants and Anglicans too. From the 60s (more or less I believe) modernists and secularists started to pour out their ideas through the media, cinema, literature, etc., until it became almost a type of brainwashing… and was almost impossible to find a haven away from it. (Some say these were the errors of atheistic communism from the then former Russia seeping into the West; perhaps they are right!)
Wealth and a higher standard of living than that enjoyed by earlier generations could be another reason. It was certainly one of the factors in the decline of the Roman Empire; a cushy life for the ruling classes made them lazy and self-centred, disinclined to accept the necessary courage, discipline and self-sacrifice their peers had needed to conquer practically all the known world of the time. The same could be said for the modern Western European – we’ve become softies too, who don’t want to be challenged by the Gospel of Christ.
Yet man cannot live without God. We are Spiritual Beings with a longing for God in our souls, though so many do not recognise this, and seek this unknown “God” in all the wrong places. The incredulous times we are living through in Europe (and in the Western world in general) has brought with it a whole lot of dissatisfaction, greed, selfishness and a strange attitude shared by many of the meaninglessness of life.
All is not lost; at the same time, in the continents of Africa and parts of Asia, the Christian Faith is growing and thriving. As has been said before, it won’t be long before missionaries will be visiting us to revive ‘the pearl of great price’ we have so foolishly (but hopefully only temporarily) buried and forgotten.