Vatican Foreign Minister: Christian Anthropology Can Renew the West

Archbishop Gallagher lamented that Catholics in the West today seem to be more timid to share their faith in public, but said he has “hope and faith.”

Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, Secretary for Relations with States within the Holy See's Secretariat of State, at a press conference on reThinking Europe at the Holy See Press Office on October 27, 2017.
Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, Secretary for Relations with States within the Holy See's Secretariat of State, at a press conference on reThinking Europe at the Holy See Press Office on October 27, 2017. (photo: Daniel Ibanez / CNA/EWTN)

VATICAN CITY — It is a difficult and uncertain moment in the West, when the vision of who man is and what he is for is being questioned, and the answers proposed by society are “short-sighted,” the Vatican’s foreign minister has said.

In an interview with Le Sfide magazine, Archbishop Paul Gallagher said he is “cautiously optimistic” about the future of the West, and it has the best chance if based on a Christian view of humanity.

“I do not believe that the anthropological vision that wants to be affirmed in Europe will be a source of man’s spiritual renewal,” the secretary for relations with states said.

“I do not see it as a vital inspiration, rather a pragmatic option that allows people to tell themselves that they have a vision, that they have found a path,” he continued.

According to the English bishop, the vision of man being proposed “can offer answers to certain needs of the individual but it does not make us more human. It collects in the moment an ephemeral success which cannot last over time.”

“The Christian anthropological vision, on the other hand, is much more dynamic and in conformity with reality,” he argued.

In the interview, Archbishop Gallagher spoke about defining “the West” not as a union of certain nations but as a “system of values.” He said today there is some confusion about what those values are.

“Today, some European representatives support and promote a vision of man, an anthropological concept, entirely pressed on the present and its needs,” he said, calling the vision “short-sighted.”

“We cannot accept the idea that following this path will solve all problems,” he said.

In this time of Western decline, the archbishop explained that it is important for society to renew its “comprehension of the multiple realities we are called to confront.”

“There are deeper issues affecting different visions and moral systems that we cannot hide just to please a trend of the moment,” he said, noting that this is a difficult moment not only for the West but for the whole world.

“It is one of the principal challenges for the Church today,” he said. “In exchanges with other authorities, with governments and also with schools of thought, we find ourselves increasingly in difficulty in confronting ‘our’ anthropological vision with those of ‘others.’”

Archbishop Gallagher lamented that Catholics in the West today seem to be more timid to share their faith in public, but said he has “hope and faith.”

“I retain an optimism that leads me to believe that with due commitment we can rise again,” he stated.

“When there is difficulty in renewing oneself a certain tendency takes over that leads to looking at things of the present, in their immediacy, horizontally, and neglects to collect the riches and diversity of the currents of thought of spiritual traditions which, instead, can make a contribution to the renewal of each era,” he said.

Aleksander Augustynowicz, “Alleluia,” 1906

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