Cardinal Dolan’s assessment of the three challenges facing the next pope can be summed up in one word.
The enemy at the gates and the enemy within the walls is one and the same: Secularism.
Simply put, secularism means irreligion.
- The Ecclesiological Problem: Yes to faith, No to religion; Yes to Jesus; No to the Church = “We can think for ourselves, we do not need you.” Is this not the freethinker’s critical formula? The secularist mentality in a nutshell?
- The “Vocational” Problem: Marriage has nothing to do with “vocation” in today’s society. The secularist calls it an arbitrary construct. To define it as a sacred union between one man and one woman for the sake of procreation and raising children is to restrict it to a biblical based, Church imposed definition, which overlooks the other possibilities of couples living together (or just hooking up). That kind of mentality defies free-thought and must be rooted out if we are to rid our society of the bonds of religion — says the secularist.
- The “Keep your religion in the closet where it belongs” Problem: Cardinal Dolan calls it “insidious,” because he knows first hand the grave threat the secularist mentality poses on freedom of religion. As the head of the USCCB, he has lead the charge against the HHS mandate, which so far has not been a winning battle for the Church and religious freedom. The problem is who defines what religious freedom is? Note that in the U.S. Constitution free exercise of religion is not defined as a right, let alone a natural right, nor for that matter is it even defined at all — it’s just something that the state is not supposed to interfere with. From that perspective, how can you consider a fair tax (what the HHS mandate ultimately is, from a legal standpoint), under Congress’s right to tax, a persecution of religion? It’s pretty well thought out, you see. A well thought out plan to force believers into going against their beliefs or paying a penalty. And that’s just one issue concerning attacks on religious freedom in one country. What’s a man of the Church to do?
These three points are just a sample of the challenges facing the Church today, challenges which the next Pope will have to face.