From news reports and reactions on social media I get the impression that the passing of Carlo Cardinal Martini, last week, is a great loss to many, and to the Church as well. The late cardinal was considered a liberal on many issues, of course, and this inevitably colours the responses we read over the past week. At the heart lay the interview that Cardinal Martini gave on 8 August, and which was published after his death.  There are a few English translations out there now, such as this one from Commonweal Magazine. From this translation, I created a Dutch translation.

And upon reading it, I don’t think it justifies how much has been made of it. Cardinal Martini doesn’t point out anything we don’t know are can disagree with. He is right in saying that many faithful lack a certain “oomph” in their faith – the generosity, faith, enthusiasm, courage to do new things, faithfulness he mentions in response to the second question of the interview. And surely conversion, the Word of God and the sacraments should have pride of place in all our lives and in the new evangelisation that must follow.

And whether or not the Church is 200 years behind the times, we must surely read this as intended hyperbole on the cardinal’s part, intended as a means of asking the hard questions: “Why is [the Church] not being stirred? Are we afraid? Afraid instead of courageous?”

The Church is ever new and must therefore always strive towards conversion and a return towards Christ, her bridegroom. We must always ask ourselves the hard questions, even when it comes to the truths of faith: the sacraments and the Word of God.

Photo credit: REUTERS/Paolo Bona

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