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Debate: Is the Church in Europe facing a crisis of faith or a crisis of leadership?

Are people leaving the Church because of a lack of inspiring leadership, or simply because they have lost faith?

By on Thursday, 11 October 2012

Photo: CNS

Photo: CNS

Pope Benedict XVI believes that the main reason people are deserting the Church in Europe is because of a “crisis of faith”. This is why he has called the Year of Faith, which he hopes will inspire Catholics to share their faith in a compelling way.

In an address to the Curia last year the Pope pointed out this crisis, saying: “If we find no answer to this, if faith does not take on new life, deep conviction and real strength from the encounter with Jesus Christ, then all other reforms will remain ineffective.”

But is the underlying problem a crisis of faith or a crisis of leadership? Looking across Europe there are only a handful of inspiring bishops. Most are content to let things drift. The abuse crisis has exposed some to be dreadful decision makers. Too many, George Weigel argues, have thought of themselves as managers, or “discussion-group moderators”, instead of apostles.

So what is really ailing the Church in Europe: a crisis of faith or a crisis of leadership?

  • Peter

    In the third world it certainly feeds the poor through education and health care for the young and their families, looking after the elderly (all too often neglected) and helping to build communities. 

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/PWZKI7JBARE4DDT3NQ22RWMOJE Benedict Carter

    Most already do.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/PWZKI7JBARE4DDT3NQ22RWMOJE Benedict Carter

    Don’t worry, Europe is heading for third world status faster than you think.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/PWZKI7JBARE4DDT3NQ22RWMOJE Benedict Carter

    Yes, it’s the whole package. 

  • Peter

    And that is indeed what communities do in Africa where they thank God for every meal they have, not knowing where the next one will come from.   They thank God for every day that they and their families are able to survive.
    Compare such gratitude with the attitude in the West where people consider day-to-day survival as a right and not a privilege, where they take their security, health care and nourishment for granted.When the poor of Africa pray to God for their daily survival, God responds by inviting their privileged brothers and sisters in West to come to their aid.  The Church in the West must provide leadership in this regard.  

  • Nesbyth

    Just like those Bishops at the Reformation who all, bar one, went with the flow.
    Only St John Fisher stood firm and that meant martyrdom.

    All the disciples were martyred too, (apart from St John).

    Perhaps that’s what they’re scared of…. martyrdom today by derision, while who
    knows what sort of martyrdom awaits the Bishops and us tomorrow?

  • teigitur

    Naughty Damo!

  • Oconnord

    Sorry but as I’m sure Paul Ryan would describe it, The church is not a wealth creator, it a wealth redistributer. 

    I would say that the church does a lot of charitable works, but it takes it’s percentage along the way.

  • Oconnord

    So the West which has abandoned God can not only take care of itself, it can send resources to the poor in Africa? The poor then thank God, rather than the Godless, who actually helped? 

  • Oconnord

    And where does the money come from? 

  • Patrickhowes

    So Can we send you to the Vatican,to do it?

  • Patrickhowes

    I think it is what the Americans call “being in denial”

  • Patrickhowes

    No Jabba Let the Holy Spiirt get his hnads on us as sson as possible and work his grace.The problem then is that the parents,teachers and clergy fail to develop the person spiritually

  • Patrickhowes

    Especially their marvellous priests 

  • Patrickhowes

    It has survived worse crisises than this.The Church is undefeatable and will renew.Orthodox parsihes and priests will keep it going yet those whom you describe above are the seed scattered on stoney ground and will not flourish

  • Patrickhowes

    well having just lived in a thord world country and see the state of desperation people have to find the basic necessities,my chin hits the floor when I hear people complaining about the crisis here.They do not know they are born.There is no core to their being and everything is instant gratification

  • JabbaPapa

    I’m unsure as to why you’re disagreeing with me rather than with the poster I was responding to — he’s the one advocating the abandonment of infant baptism, not me !!!

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/PWZKI7JBARE4DDT3NQ22RWMOJE Benedict Carter

    Correct. People should see the poverty in a place like Kenya or Kyrgyzstan before they start moaning.

  • Teresa

    What has Irish blood got to do with it? The comments you make are light years away from representing anything a true blooded Irish man would say. There are plenty of us over hear who think the church in Ireland will be enriched  when we go back to our Celtic roots and throw the austere religion that was ushered in as a response to British rule

  • paulpriest

    Lol nice thought but the powers that be have made it more than abundantly clear that my contributions are something with which they could well do without :)

  • JabbaPapa

    … that was ushered in by Saint Patrick.

  • Hazel_pratt

    The rot set in when the wording in prayers was changed, such as “The Lord’s Prayer, The Creed etc.
    The rules, obligations of our faith were changed.  Holidays of Obligation i.e. attending Mass on those days are non existent today.  Fasting before communion done away with.  Confession has gone communal, i.e. saying aloud in Mass.  No reverence from the children.  Even in churches where the children are taken out into a hall so they do not distract the adult congregation, when coming back into the church, they run, chat play with cars when in the pews, eat sweets.  Catchism is practically non existent.  The catholic faith is not being taught by catholics in catholic schools.  I could go on and on but who listens.  H Pratt 

  • Michelle Egan

    Its about poor leadership, appoint good orthodox bishops like Mark Davies & Philip Egan and we are half way in solving the many problems in the Church in Europe

  • Peter

    God invites the godless as well as the godly in the rich west to help their poor brothers and sisters in Africa.

    Have you read the parable of the good Samaritan?

  • Peter

    Couid you be more specific?

  • Peter

    Charitable organisations such as Cafod, Mary’s Meals, the ACN, the APF, the SPA and, of course, the Missionary Orders.

  • JabbaPapa

     appoint good orthodox bishops like Mark Davies & Philip Egan and we
    are half way in solving the many problems in the Church in the UK and the US

    FTFY

  • Parasum

    Which is a first-rate way to solve a problem. Those who bow down to the Baal that is V2 aren’t going to melt their golden calf soon. Instead, these false prophets rule the Church, and there is no Elijah to treat them as the prophets of Baal were treated, no Moses to pulverise the calf and punish its idolaters.

    The CC is done for, finished, doomed.

  • Texas

    I thought they moved London Bridge to Arizona.  Maybe there is a new one…

  • Peter

    A crisis of faith is the primary problem – definitely.  It is the problem which underlies any crisis of leadership, because the leaders themselves won’t be effective leaders if they do not have a supernatural outlook, a living and ardent faith.  Remember, the Bishops – prior to their being Bishops – are Christians; thus their discipleship is the basis, the foundation for their leadership.  A crisis of faith.  A crisis that extends into the faith lives of the leaders.