Fr. Teilhard de Chardin teaches us a vital lesson about the magnetism of the Church in an evolutionary age in his 1965 book Science sand Christ; a lesson completely applicable to criminal/carceral reformation.
These evolutionary views have entered much more deeply into our psychology than is commonly believed, and under their influence a particular type of religious requirement has asserted itself in mankind. Both because of our intellectual apprehension of Nature in movement and because of our corresponding appetite for action, we can no longer accept any control of our activity that is not directed to the fulfillment of a world that includes us integrally in its consummation. The free, thinking, energy released by the earth can no longer be dominated by the ideal of any established order that has to be accepted and preserved. Morality and religion (like the entire social order) have ceased to be for us a static: if they are to appeal to us, and save us, they must be a dynamic.
‘We no longer want a religion of regulation: but we dream of a religion of conquest.’ In saying that, we have, without realizing it, taken a great step towards belief, cutting across and rising above our modern lack of faith. It has become a commonplace to designate western civilization as materialist—the civilization which is the focus point of the new mankind. Nothing could be more unjust. The West has overthrown many idols. But, by its discovery of the dimensions and forward momentum of the universe, it has set in motion a powerful mysticism. For we can properly speak of it as a mysticism, in that we have been aroused by physics and history to the consciousness of a tangible immensity, and so can conceive no values, can take delight in nothing, except our arduous identification with the fulfillment of that immensity.
Chardin, P.T.d. (1965). Science and Christ. ( R. Hague, Trans.) New York and Evanston: Harper & Row, Publishers. (pp. 102-103)
Keep this in mind reading this story from Chiesa.
ROME, November 19, 2014 – With the mastery for which it is known all over the world, the Washington-based Pew Research Center has conducted a survey on a massive scale that gives substance to a fact that was already known in general terms, the startling decline of Catholic membership in the Latin American subcontinent:
Religion in Latin America. Widespread Change in a Historically Catholic Region
In the geographical area that is used today to indicate the new center of mass of the worldwide Catholic Church, midway through the last century almost the entirety of the population, 94 percent, was made up of Catholics. And still in 1970 Catholics were in the overwhelming majority, at 92 percent.
But then came the collapse. Today the proportion of Catholics is 23 points lower, at 69 percent of the population. The negative record belongs to Honduras, where Catholics have dropped to under half, from 94 to 46 percent. To get an idea of how sharp the decline has been, it should be enough to think that it has taken place entirely within the time span of the episcopal ministry of Cardinal Óscar Andrés Rodríguez Maradiaga, archbishop of Tegucigalpa and coordinator of the eight cardinals called by Pope Francis to assist him in the governance of the universal Church.
The collapse in the number of Catholics has been accompanied everywhere by the exuberant growth of “evangelical” and Pentecostal Christians, of Protestant descent. This was known too, but the Pew Research Center has highlighted that those who are passing from one membership to another are not usually the most lukewarm in their faith, but the most fervent.
The converts to the “evangelical” communities turn out, in fact, to be much more dynamic in propagating the Christian faith. And there is also a difference in helping the poor. While the Catholics assist them and that’s it, the “evangelicals” are not only more active in works of charity, but also do not miss the opportunity to preach the Christian faith to the poor.
There is also a great discrepancy in religious practice. In Argentina, for example, the “evangelicals” who put great emphasis on religion in their lives, pray every day and go to church every week are 41 percent, while the Catholics are just 9 percent and take last place in the rankings together with Chile and secularized Uruguay.
The survey of the Pew Research Center also demonstrates that converts from Catholicism to the “evangelical” communities are not drawn by greater leniency on the matters of abortion or homosexuality.
The reality is the opposite. Those most resolute in opposing abortion and marriage between persons of the same-sex are found among the neo-Protestants, not among the Catholics.
In Argentina, for example, more than half of Catholics, 53 percent, say they are in favor of homosexual “marriage,” which is already legal in that country. While among the neo-Protestants those in favor are 32 percent.
The survey of the Pew Research Center is a must-read, rich as it is in data on this epochal phenomenon.
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