Year 135 - March-April 2023Find out more

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Are we the last Christians?

Fr. Livio Tonello, director

editorial st anthony

As we can all see the traditional religious practices are in decline. Our churches are becoming empty, people attending religious services are older and older, parents do not succeed in passing on their faith to their children, young people do not participate in church activities... and we could continue to speak about this situation that we know so well.

The decline of religious practices concerns Italy and all the European countries. During the Covid pandemic religious observance declined even more. We reflect on these matters when we celebrate the central mystery of our faith: the death on the Cross and Jesus’ resurrection three days after. In 2019 a catastrophic and very symbolic event took place: on 15 April a fire broke out and quickly spread through the building of Notre Dame church causing the famous spire to collapse.

Many people considered it as a symbol of the implosion of the European Church. This does not only concern the decline of religious practices but also the decrease of priestly ordinations, religious consecrations, marriages, baptisms, suppressed parishes... The crisis of faith also concerns worshippers of other religions. So we continue to ask to ourselves if we are the last Christians of the Continent. Certainly we are the last witnesses of a certain way to be Christian. In our fast changing globalised society the national Churches must change.

Especially in the parishes that have no resident priest the contact with worshippers is more and more rare and difficult. One does not need to be a prophet to understand that the cultural importance of the Gospel will become less and less meaningful. For all that our communities have the task of evangelising right now, of being a missionary Church according to Pope Francis’ words. The baptised themselves must be evangelised again. It is very important that all the communities, even the smallest ones, continue to be witness of Jesus’ Word.

Christianity will continue to spread in the world only if Christians are able show anger, to be indignant, not to blur the lines between good and universal tolerance in a world more and more secularized at least in Western countries; Churches have to be focused on the essentials. During our meetings we will get closer to God’s word and the Eucharist, sources of the Christian faith and they will give us strength and energy to be an essential part of our society. It will be a new start in this time of transition, something new that we have to prepare and to build. A good Lent to you all and Happy Easter!