The Battleground of the Church
by Archbishop Fulton Sheen (1974)
The world in which we live is the battleground of the Church. I believe that we are now living at the end of Christendom. It is the end of Christendom, but not of Christianity. What is Christendom? Christendom is the political, economic, moral, social, legal life of a nation as inspired by the gospel ethic. That is finished. Abortion, the breakdown of the family life, dishonesty, even the natural virtues upon which the supernatural virtues were based, are being discredited. Christianity is not at the end. But we are at the end of Christendom. And I believe the sooner we face up to this fact, the sooner we will be able to solve many of our problems.
Thirty or forty years ago, it was very easy to be a Christian. The very air we breathed was Christian. Bicycles could be left on the front lawns; doors could be left unlocked. Suddenly, all this has changed; now we have to affirm our faith. We live in a world that challenges us. And many fall away. Dead bodies float downstream; it takes live bodies to resist the current. And this is our summons.
We will have to begin a different church. We are for a moment on a trapeze. We are in between the death of an old civilization and culture and the swing to the beginning of the new. These are the times in which we live. They are therefore wonderful days; marvelous; we should thank God that we live in times like this.
(From the book Through the Year with Fulton Sheen, pages 27 & 28)
"Faith and the Future"
by Joseph Ratzinger (1971)
"From today’s crisis, a Church will emerge tomorrow that will have lost a great deal. She will be small and, to a large extent, will have to start from the beginning. She will no longer be able to fill many of the buildings created in her period of great splendor. Because of the smaller number of her followers, she will lose many of her privileges in society. Contrary to what has happened until now, she will present herself much more as a community of volunteers... As a small community, she will demand much more from the initiative of each of her members and she will certainly also acknowledge new forms of ministry and will raise up to the priesthood proven Christians who have other jobs... There will be an interiorized Church, which neither takes advantage of its political mandate nor flirts with the left or the right. This will be achieved with effort because the process of crystallization and clarification will demand great exertion. It will make her poor and a Church of the little people... All this will require time. The process will be slow and painful."...+Joseph Ratzinger, 1969 lecture on Bavarian radio.