The Catholic Thing: The Church in Crisis
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The Church in Crisis
Eduardo Echeverria reviews Ralph Martin’s new book, which is a tour de force that, in the words of Cardinal Gerhard Müller, “should be widely read.”
Ralph Martin, president of Renewal Ministries, director of graduate theology programs in evangelization and a professor of theology at Sacred Heart Major Seminary, has written an extraordinary book, A Church in Crisis: Pathways Forward. His analysis of this crisis, in a time of confusion and division, is comprehensive in scope, examining its ecclesial, doctrinal, and moral dimensions. The book falls into two main parts: the first gives an in-depth analysis of these dimensions; and the second part outlines pathways forward to attain “real and deep renewal in the Church.”
The three dimensions of this crisis are interdependent, that is, doctrinal and moral confusion will affect the ecclesial dimension of the crisis, and vice-versa. For instance, consider the “pastoral passivity of the bishops,” meaning thereby, according to Martin, “a remarkable silence regarding the areas of truth revealed by God that are most in conflict with our culture.”
The Church has failed to take seriously that the conflict confronting the Church today is a crisis of truth engaging the full spectrum of culture – powers, principalities, and organized centers of hostility. This passivity has rendered the Church, in many instances, a fence sitter, straddling the crucial issues of the day.
Furthermore, Martin argues, “Catholics are cooperating with, and even welcoming, political and intellectual forces that are hostile to the Church. This has happened because many Catholics have begun to lose their grasp of and commitment to basic Christian truths.”
Throughout his book, Martin cites the Church’s pastoral passivity and accommodation to the sexual liberationist worldview. Examples of silence in these matters abound regarding sexual sins (e.g., cohabitation, homosexuality).
Eduardo J. Echeverria is Professor of Philosophy and Systematic Theology at Sacred Heart Major Seminary, Detroit. His publications include Pope Francis: The Legacy of Vatican II(2015) and Revelation, History, and Truth: A Hermeneutics of Dogma. (2018).