As the Synod on Africa gets underway at the Vatican, the following message from a Nigerian seminarian serves as a timely and striking wake-up call for apathetic European Catholics. It could also apply to Catholics anywhere where secularism and relativism has become widespread.
The message was posted yesterday on Europe4Christ, a German-based website founded by members of different Christian confessions in response to discrimination against Christians in Europe. The message forms part of its ‘Letters to Europe’ series.
With attitudes like those expressed in the message, it’s perhaps not surprising the faith is growing so fast on the African continent.
Here is the text of the message:
Why are you only a spectator?
Why don’t you get involved?
Why are you not proclaiming the truth?
An African Christian registers with horror the Anti-Christian climate in Europe and is astonished with what passivity European Christians accept that.
- * - * - * - * - * - * - * - * - * - * - * - * - * - * - * - * - * - * -
In Western Europe, there has been a storm of critique on Christianity for a long time, an Anti-Christian trend. To have faith is seen as a pitiful situation. To say it gently, the majority of Christians waits helplessly and inactively for the total destruction of already wounded Christianity. I am not worried that the Church would not survive difficult situations (Mt 16:18) or that Christ would abandon his Church (Mt 28:20). But I worry about the degree of carelessness and apathy that Christians in Europe show in this difficult situation.
Christians meet the increasing wave of Anti-Christianity with total passivity. Because of the media, daily newspapers, magazines, TV and radio, people are on a daily basis confronted with ideologies that only deep faith and clear discernment can withstand. The question is: How do Christians react to this? What did they do until now?
I read daily newspapers and I am bewildered because of the eagerness with which journalists and editors make arbitrary statements, leap to illogical conclusions and criticize the Church in a hostile way. The passivity with which Christians react on these assaults is alarming.
Why do you observe instead of argue, defend and proclaim the truth from a rational point of view? Why not react on negative developments, especially when they turn into a dangerous ideology?
Now it is time to wake up, everyone in their way and in their environment! Let’s write! Let’s speak loudly! We have to prepare ourselves, because as Christ has already warned us: “...for the sons of this age are more shrewd in relation to their own kind than the sons of light…” (Lk 16:8)
It is not enough to wait for a miracle! We could not impede this development by waiting for a wonder from God. Why should He perform a miracle, when he already gave us the ability to act through faith and common sense?
Prayer is undeniably the first step that we have to make, but it is not enough. We have to act. We owe that to our descendants. People leave the church because they receive wrong answers to their questions. And they get these wrong answers from the wrong people.
An average European who reads daily newspapers probably will tend to lose their faith than remain a believer. It is time to let Christ lead us. Let everyone around you notice that there is a Christian. Where are you? What do you see? What do you hear? What do you know? Speak aloud! Our silence is our pain.
Kizito Chinedu Nweke
Nweke Kizito Chinedu is a seminarian originally from Nigeria and currently studying at the Pontifical University Heiligenkreuz near Vienna.