Catholic Church and Today’s World: Two Views

Here are two contrasting views of the Catholic Church’s relationship to the contemporary world.

First, eminent historian from Oxford University, Diarmaid MacCulloch, manages to pack in nearly every slogan of liberal reformers in this brief interview with The Guardian:

I do think there’s a real big crisis in the Church, and it actually feels a bit like 1989, when you turned on the news and there was another government fallen. …You can keep your head inside a paper bag for so long, but in the end you have to take the paper bag off. …


Then, Swiss Cardinal Georges Cottier, 93, Dominican and former theologian of the papal household, rejects an opening up of the Church that leads to adaptation to the modern world.

On Tuesday he warned of a “more open” church, to that extent that this would mean that the Church bends to the “will of the world.” Then the Church would be left with a decision between “compromise” and “mediocrity.” An “opening” could consist of many wishes and ideas that are not all compatible.

Viewed theologically, the church is already “open,” the cardinal said, on the basis of her vocation, which is the proclamation of Jesus. The Church is “catholic” in that she is open and accessible to the entire world.


  1. “he warned of a “more open” church”
    “An “opening” could consist of many wishes and ideas that are not all compatible.”

    IMO isn’t the idea of a more open religion is what terrified the pharisees? (temple rather than church of course) Jesus radically reformed religion to include sinners, tax collectors, lepers and all the others that, in the view of His contemporaries, would compromise religion and make it mediocre because they had a “sin” in their background and were being somehow punished for their leprosy, blindness, etc.
    Jesus radically changed the religious view that those who would not be “ideal” in the world would actually be welcome.
    Also, opening up to the world and bending to the will of the people and “adapting to the world” is “sometimes” not a bad thing (ie transparency in the sex abuse scandal, rejecting earth centricity (geocentric) for heliocentricity, etc).

  2. Neither of these view points could be consisdered as attempting an objective perspective on current situation. I was more taken by the comments of MacCulloch’s counterpart at Cambridge, Eamon Duffy, in the Feb 16th issue of The Tablet. Indeed that whole issue was very well put together.

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