Church Facing ‘Biggest Crisis Since Reformation’?

THE TIMES, July 4 — Statistics revealed in a new study say the Catholic Church in Britain is facing its greatest threat since the Reformation, The Times of London reported.

According to the 260-page study, carried out by the Pastoral Research Center, Mass attendance has slumped in the last 30 years by 40%, baptisms by 50%, and Catholic marriages and confirmations by 60%.

The study covers the period from 1963 to 1991. But more recent figures, from 2004, indicate little improvement. In 1991, Mass attendance in England and Wales stood at 1.3 million, compared with 960,000 in 2004. Deaths among congregations rose by nearly 40% between 1963 and 1991, reflecting the growing elderly profile. However, the Catholic population of England and Wales increased by 6%. According to the study, the number of “late baptisms,” of children aged 1 to 14, also increased.

The British statistics, however, only confirm what is happening in every country that has embraced post-Christian secularist values and the so-called “sexual revolution.” The Associated Press reported that the loss of the Catholic moral and social identity in Spain is of grave concern to the Vatican. According to the Associated Press, while 80% of Spaniards consider themselves Catholics, only 42% believe in God and 50% never attend church except for social occasions.

Chinese Bishop Arrested in His Hospital Bed

TAIPEI TIMES, July 8 — A 72-year-old bishop in China’s underground Church was detained when authorities took him from a hospital as he was recovering from surgery, the Taiwan daily reported.

Bishop Jia Zhiguo was detained on June 25 by officials from the religious affairs bureau in Jinzhou, a city in northern Hebei Province, said the Cardinal Kung Foundation, which is based in Stamford, Conn.

The foundation said the bishop might have been detained to prevent him from contacting a Vatican delegation that was in Beijing to discuss possible diplomatic relations between the communist government and the Holy See.

According to the Cardinal Kung Foundation Bishop Jia, who was ordained in 1980, has been arrested nine times since January 2004.

Patriarch Positive About Orthodox-Catholic Relations

INTERFAX, July 7 — Russian Patriarch Alexy II insisted on the need for the Russian Orthodox and Roman Catholic Churches to cooperate facing the challenges of the current culture in modern Europe, the international news agency reported.

Uniting the two churches with a common position on issues of the day, “presents a wonderful opportunity to witness about Christian values before the world,” the primate of the Russian church said during the recent World Religious Summit in Moscow.

Alexy II also thanked Pope Benedict XVI for his support for the summit and said the participation of a Vatican delegation at the interreligious summit “testifies to the positive development of relations between the Russian Orthodox and Roman Catholic Churches.

Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, said the Vatican shares the concerns of the Russian Orthodox Church about attempts to marginalize religion in Europe and throughout the world, and added, “At the same time I note the growing interest of modern youth to religious life. Our cooperation would be a good sign for the young people.”