The Catechetical Review - Communicating Christ for a New Evangelization

Catechesis in Contemporary Culture: Secularism

Authored by Brian Pizzalato in Issue #30.4 of The Sower
In 2004 the Pontifical Council for Culture published a document that is very relevant for catechetical activity and assisting catechists in their interaction with contemporary culture: Where is Your God? Responding to the Challenge of Unbelief and Religious Indifference Today. The document deals primarily with unbelief and religious indifference, which have secularism as their cause, and with a new subjective, emotive religiosity as its consequence. It this article we will explore this root problem of secularism. Where is Your God? states, ‘The problem is not that of secularization, understood as the legitimate autonomy of the temporal realm, but of secularism, “a concept of the world according to which the latter is self-explanatory, without any need for recourse to God, who thus becomes superfluous and an encumbrance” ’ (I.3). In this type of culture ‘many [former] believers…are overcome by a hedonistic, consumerist and relativist mentality’. When secularization transforms itself into secularism, there is a serious cultural and spiritual crisis, one sign of which is the loss of respect for the person and the spread of a kind of anthropological nihilism which reduces human beings to their instincts and tendencies’ (Introduction, 1). The document goes on to connect secularism with globalization. Secularism and its consequences spread more rapidly because of globalization, which is also connected with the modern modes of communication through the mass media. ‘The fires of indifference, practical materialism, moral and religious relativism are stoked by globalization and the so-called opulent [wealthy] society’ (I.3). It is obvious that the consequences of secularism, unbelief and religious indifference, provide significant challenges to catechesis.

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This article is from The Sower and may be copied for catechetical purposes only. It may not be reprinted in another published work without the permission of Maryvale Institute. Contact [email protected]

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