Guest / Limited Access /

When Pope John Paul II died in 2005, much successor speculation focused on the global South, where the Roman Catholic Church continues to grow. By elevating a cardinal from Africa or South America, Rome could have highlighted a success story. Instead, the church reached into the heart of secular Europe for Pope Benedict XVI from Germany. His selection sent a clear message: Rome will not give up on Europe without a fight.

The magnitude of the challenge can be found in the Czech Republic. During the 1990s, church affiliation in the country of 10 million dropped from 4.5 million to 3.3 million. Following decades of communist indoctrination, only half of Czech citizens even believe in God. So Pope Benedict XVI faced a skeptical audience when he visited the Czech Republic in late September. Yet that may have been just the audience he was looking for to deliver his message of Christian hope: Nothing and no one but Jesus Christ can fulfill the deepest human longings.

According to church organizers, 120,000 people heard the pope's homily on September 27, which Benedict delivered in an open field near the Brno airport. Like his other addresses on the challenges of modernity and secularization, Benedict spoke on behalf of the broad Christian tradition, indicating that the dire situation demands a unified Christian apologetic. He referenced Isaiah 61:1-3a, when the prophet explains his Spirit-anointed mission to proclaim liberty to captives and console the afflicted and poor. Jesus, of course, fulfilled this promise (Luke 4:16-21). Indeed, Jesus accomplished this mission counter-intuitively, through his death and resurrection. Those who believe in him are freed from slavery to selfishness and evil, sin and death.

This message never changes, ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Read These NextSee Our Latest
RecommendedThe Wrong Kind of Christian
Subscriber Access Only The Wrong Kind of Christian
I thought a winsome faith would win Christians a place at Vanderbilt’s table. I was wrong.
TrendingLecrae Brings Reformed Rap to Jimmy Fallon’s Tonight Show
Lecrae Brings Reformed Rap to Jimmy Fallon’s Tonight Show
(UPDATED) Performance with The Roots was the first by a Christian rapper on late-night TV.
Editor's PickStudy: Where Are the Women Leading Evangelical Organizations?
Study: Where Are the Women Leading Evangelical Organizations?
That's the mystery the Gender Parity Project, whose results debut this weekend, sets out to solve.
Comments
Christianity Today
Europe's Past Is Today's Hope
hide thisAccess The Archives

In the Archives

October 2009

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.