Benedict XVI, Pope Francis, and Living Christianity in a Secular Age

We live in a moment that Pope Francis often describes as an “epochal change.”[1] The main feature of such a radically new experience is that “we are no longer living in a Christian world because faith . . . is no longer an evident presupposition of social life; indeed, faith is often rejected, derided, marginalized and ridiculed.”[2] In this judgment by the Holy Father, we hear an echo of something on which even the late Benedict XVI reflected a lot. “Whereas in the past it was possible to recognize a unitary cultural matrix, broadly accepted in its appeal to the content of the faith and the values inspired by it,” explained Benedict XVI when he proclaimed the Year of Faith. “Today this no longer seems to be the case in large swathes of society.”[3] We live amidst a profound crisis of faith that has affected many people. In fact, Benedict XVI had such a keen awareness regarding the urgency of the current situation that, in 2010, he established the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization. Here is how the late Pope described the reasons for his decision: the main task of the council will be “to promote a renewed evangelization in the countries where the first proclamation of the faith has already resonated and where Churches with an ancient foundation exist but are experiencing the progressive secularization of society and a sort of ‘eclipse of the sense of God.’” Such a new situation causes the Church to face, and quoting again from Benedict XVI, “the challenge of finding appropriate means to propose anew the perennial truth of Christ’s Gospel.”[4]

Christianity Amidst an Epochal Change

In 1970, Joseph Ratzinger used his typical mastery of the philosophical and theological history of the West to trace the intellectual history that brought us to a world in which God seems no longer necessary to understand and explain the universe.[5] The world is self-contained and, explains Ratzinger, “the question about God no longer finds any place in human thought.”[6] Science seems capable of disclosing all the previously unknown mysteries of the natural world and thus liberates us from the need to look for an explanation beyond the empirical realm. Not only transcendence comes to be seen as superfluous, but even the core Christian message seems increasingly naive and unbelievable. Given its infinite extension and mutability, how could the cosmos’ entire history hinge upon a man, Jesus of Nazareth? Is it not ludicrous to think that such a small and fleeting thing, a man born in the peripheries of Israel 2000 years ago, could be decisive for the destiny of every person? In his book Introduction to Christianity, Ratzinger compares the situation of Christians living in the current context to that of a clown trying to alert the village that the circus tent is on fire. No one takes the clown and his warning seriously, for everyone thinks his cries are part of an act. He is easily dismissed as a character to which no one should pay attention. As a result, no one tries to stop the fire, and both the circus and the village end up destroyed. The situation of Christians today appears very similar. They, too, seem unable to get people to listen to their message. The flames of a culture gone array are burning high, but no one seems to notice or care. Christians, says Ratzinger, are faced with the “frustrating inability to break through accepted patterns of thought . . . and make people recognize that [faith] is a serious aspect of human life.”[7] As a result, “even the faithful, like travelers on a sinking ship,” writes Ratzinger, “are becoming widely affected by an uneasy feeling: they are asking if the Christian faith has any future, or if it is not, in fact, more and more obviously being made obsolete.”[8]

Everything we have said so far seems to entail that we live in a world where Nietzsche’s proclamation has finally been realized. God is dead, as the German philosopher would have it, and faith has no future. Human beings have grown out of it, and the very idea of religious belief is now “impracticable.”[9] But is that truly the case?

People today experience the “form of faith as burden,”[10] reflected Ratzinger. With all its practices, doctrines, and moral judgments, Christianity is often perceived as completely out-of-sync with the contemporary world. Yet, Ratzinger continues, “paradoxically as it may seem, the days in which we live are very much characterized by a yearning for faith: the world of planned economy, of research, of exact calculation and experiment is quite obviously not enough to satisfy people. . . . People want to be liberated from this just as much as from the old-fashioned faith.”[11] How striking! In a world where human beings should have finally solved all their age-old questions and problems—in which almost-infinite possibilities for distraction and entertainment should keep us forever busy and make us forget about everything else—our lives are still marked by a double dissatisfaction. People are equally dissatisfied with the faith and with the world and what it has to offer.[12]

The forgetfulness, distraction, relativism, and skepticism denoting our age are all different sides of the same coin. When, as Ratzinger says, “truth—reality itself—is eluding”[13] human beings, and yet the longing for them remains—when all the disproportion, the gap, the chasm between our capacity and what we are truly made for emerge in all its power—it is no surprise that human beings would withdraw into attempts to live mindlessly, on the one hand, or to deny that we are made for the truth in the first place. As Cardinal Ratzinger said in his last homily before being elected Pope, “Relativism, that is, letting oneself be ‘tossed here and there, carried about by every wind of doctrine,’ seems the only attitude that can cope with modern times.”[14]

But no matter the distraction and denial of the authentic nature of the self, the human heart is irreducible, and the longing for the eternal that denotes us re-emerges in all its evidence. In 1970, Ratzinger showed the resilience of human nature by drawing on some of the most prominent atheist thinkers of the time, Albert Camus and Simone de Beauvoir. In them, it is clear that once the possibility of the Christian faith is rejected as irrational, the human longing for truth, meaning, and existence that characterizes the heart does not go away. Listen to what de Beauvoir writes in her diary (Ratzinger quotes from her): “If on an evening I happened to have drunk a glass too many, it could easily happen that I wept buckets. My old longing for the absolute awoke; I discovered afresh the vanity of human striving and the menacing nearness of death.”[15] How amazing! Nothing, not all the cultural milieu apparently so hostile to the faith and the idea of transcendence, not all the theorizing against human beings’ religious nature, not all ways in which de Beauvoir lived a life that was against traditional morality could suppress her heart completely. As soon as the defenses lower, human nature in all its restlessness imposes itself again to express an “abysmal melancholy,” as Ratzinger calls it, and the false promises of our age get unmasked.

I am constantly amazed—like Ratzinger with the atheist intellectuals of the seventies—by how, even today, public figures, celebrities, and influencers who have nothing to do with the faith (and whose lives are often explicitly polemical against it) constantly bear witness to the authentic needs of the heart. For example, in many of today’s most famous songs, one can find a powerful echo of the longing for the infinite that constitutes human nature. And such a cry for authentic happiness can be resisted or muddled by distraction and sin; confusion can direct people to rather destructive attempts to respond to it, but nothing can ever fully suppress it. “Are you happy in this modern world or do you need more? Is there something else you are looking for?” sings Lady Gaga. “All the shine of a thousand spotlights—all the stars we steal from the night sky—will never be enough. Towers of gold are still too little. These hands could hold the world but it will never be enough,” says one of the protagonists in the musical The Greatest Showman. “Is there anyone [who can understand me]? I need someone,” cries out Demi Lovato. “I need someone who loves me,” pleads Little Nas X. “I lay in my bed dreaming of more,” sings Sam Smith in a tune that mimics the hymns he sang while attending a Catholic school in his youth. I could go on making so many other examples. The point is that, despite what Nietzsche thought, God is not dead. The religious question is not dead. The human longing for the eternal is not dead. And our hearts are restless today as they were hundreds of years ago.

Living the Faith in a Secular Age

Still, as Pope Francis says, we live in a new epoch. We live in what the philosopher Charles Taylor has called a “secular age.” The secular is, first of all, disenchanted. Nowadays, people do not take for granted the existence of “a cosmos of spirits and forces, some of them evil and destructive.”[16] Instead, we think that scientific thinking and technical knowledge put us in control. We do not need to hold on to something that will protect us from evil because, as Ratzinger explained in 1970, “the development through which we are living presents itself . . . as the product of hard work, of planned, calculated, and inventive activity. Human beings expect redemption to come from themselves, and they seem to be in a position to provide it.”[17] But it is also an age in which, Taylor argues, “religious longing . . . the longing for eternity, remains a strong independent source of motivation.”[18]

A second essential feature of the secular age is that, together with enchantment, gone is also the time in which belief in general, and Christian belief in particular, was “so interwoven with social life that one was hardly conceivable without the other,”[19] explains Taylor. We now live in a world made of pilgrims, of spiritual searchers,[20] who are all engaged in what Taylor calls a quest for authenticity. “Each one of us,” describes Taylor, “has his or her own way of realizing our humanity, and . . . it is important to find and live out one’s own, as against surrendering to conformity with a model imposed on us from the outside.”[21] People are interested in finding their path, one that inspires and moves them.[22] People follow their “spiritual instincts,” Taylor says, “looking for a more direct experience of the sacred, for greater immediacy, spontaneity, and spiritual depth . . . . This often springs from a profound dissatisfaction with a life encased entirely in the immanent order. The sense is that this life [life in the modern, scientific world] is empty, flat, devoid of higher purpose.”[23] “Is that all there is?” asked Peggy Lee in a popular 1969 song. Following her, contemporary men and women think that “there has to be more to life than our current definitions of social and individual success define for us,”[24] says Taylor. And because of this sense, people today embark on a quest. “It is a personal search,” Taylor continues: “I am trying to find my path, or find myself.”[25]

The combination of these two features of the secular age—its disenchantment and its openness to different spiritual searches—make it a brand new epoch. And this is not just, or mainly, because institutional religion is not the default anymore or because the number of Christians involved in the life of the Church is decreasing (at least in the West). We live in a new epoch because, as Taylor shows, the very “conditions of belief” have changed. “The whole context in which we experience and search for fullness”[26] has changed. People approach the whole issue of belief in a way that differs profoundly from earlier times. The range of possible answers to the question “What constitutes a fulfilled life? What makes life really worth living? What would we most admire people for?”[27] has massively multiplied and, accordingly, the era of a naive, unexamined, religious faith has ended.[28] But the shift has impacted everyone, believer and unbeliever alike.[29] “We live in a condition where we [everybody, no matter the background] cannot help but be aware that there are a number of different construals, views which intelligent, reasonably undeluded people, of good will, can and do disagree on,” explains Taylor. “We cannot help but looking over our shoulder from time to time,” he continues, “looking sideways, living our faith also in a condition of doubt and uncertainty.”[30] This is what illustrates the titanic change, the change of epoch: “all see their option as one among many.”[31] Accordingly, Taylor claims that because of secularization the “Christian faith exists in a field where there is also a wide range of other spiritual options.” But, the philosopher continues, “the interesting story is not simply one of decline, but also of a new placement of the sacred or spiritual in relation to individual and social life. This new placement is now the occasion for recompositions of spiritual life in new forms, and for new ways of existing both in and out of relation with God.”[32]

Why am I spending so much time trying to understand the essential features of our secular age? Because, as Taylor explains, “only by identifying the change as one of lived experience, can we even begin to put the right questions properly.”[33] How can we be Christians in today’s context? How can we minister to and guide our people if we do not understand the culture that has come to shape us, all of us? Only by realizing the change in people’s lived experience can we avoid the naïvetés on all sides. And so, for example, it is fundamental to understand that questioning faith or even unbelief is not “just the falling away of any sense of fullness, or the betrayal of it,”[34] as we sometimes think. Instead, it is just a sign of the quest, the spiritual journey that people find themselves on given the context in which we grow up. A quest and a journey that need to be directed and rescued rather than denied or berated.

Now, the breaking down of stronger social cohesion, shared values, and trust in religious institutions all come at a price. And so does the “fragilization”[35] of all ideal commitments that is caused by today’s pluralism. For example, such fragilization is, together with a host of other factors, one of the drives of the decline in religious practice. We should not think that what we are confronted by is simply a declension narrative, though. In fact, while analyzing the wounds and struggles that the crisis has brought about, Ratzinger, Taylor, and Pope Francis also describe the current situation as an opportunity for conversion and renewal.

After providing a lucid analysis of all the features that challenge faith in the contemporary world, Ratzinger invited the listeners of his radio addresses to let their faith take up the challenge. The task of the Christian, he said, is “to share in the passion of [humankind] from within, to extend the sphere of human being so that it will find room for the presence of God.”[36] Faith does not need to rely on the help of society, philosophy, or culture to show its reasonableness, and the intellectual pluralism that dominates our situation will never be reversed. The position of faith and of those who believe in it has undoubtedly become more arduous, but that does not take anything away from the beauty of the adventure to which we are called.[37] Certainly, reflects Ratzinger, the life of faith “resembles more an expedition up a mountain than a quiet evening spent reading in front of the fire; but anyone who embarks upon this expedition knows and experiences more and more that the adventure to which it invites us is worthwhile.”[38]

But why would Ratzinger refer to life in the contemporary world as a worthwhile adventure, as a challenge to be accepted? “The retreat of Christendom involves both loss and gain,”[39] explains Taylor. “Some great realizations of collective life are lost, but other facts of our predicament in relation to God come to the fore.”[40] For example, while for many the secular age has been a source of difficulty and even a cause of disbelief, for at least as many it has also been a move “towards more personal, committed forms of religious devotion and practice.”[41] Accordingly, the Church should not be afraid of the space of freedom that the end of more dominant forms of cultural Christianity has opened. In fact, as Pope Francis says, we need to distinguish between good and bad forms of secularization. There is a form of secularization that the Holy Father calls laicism which “closes the doors to transcendence.”[42] And this is bad, the Pope continues, because “a culture or a political system that does not respect openness to the transcendence of the human person ‘prunes’ or cuts down the human person. Or rather, it does not respect the human person.”[43] We see this bad form of secularization or laicism at work whenever governments try to restrict the religious freedom of Christians or other believers. There is another form of secularization, though, which is instead positive. “In general,” explains Pope Francis, “a secular State [a state without an established and dominant religion, a state that respects religious freedom] is a good thing.”[44] So, to summarize, the secular age is neither completely good nor bad. And we should certainly count our culture’s passion for freedom as one with positive elements. “Without freedom, there can be no true humanity,” Pope Francis says, “for human beings were created free in order to be free.”[45] In that sense, it is not altogether negative that the Church today cannot simply count on the thrust of culture and society to increase its ranks. In the end, even God bet everything on the freedom of Abraham, Moses, Mary, and of all those whom Jesus encountered and called to a life of discipleship. The Church must have “room for the adventure of freedom,”[46] Pope Francis explains. And this is especially true today when, the Holy Father reflects, “the younger generations are not attracted by a faith that leaves them no interior freedom.”[47]

In all the challenges, Ratzinger wrote with a prophetic voice in 1970, “the Church will find her essence afresh and with full conviction in that which was always at her center faith in the triune God, in Jesus Christ, the Son of God made man, in the presence of the Spirit until the end of the world.”[48] Circumstances will force the Church to shed her “sectarian narrow-mindedness” and her “pompous self-will.”[49] We need to become a Church of the poor and the meek, the German theologian exhorted his listeners. The crisis, the epochal change, entails a time of trial. Ratzinger predicted more than fifty years ago that it would be difficult for the Church to stop being a dominant social power that enjoys privileges, riches, and prestige. “We will become small and will have to start afresh more or less from the beginning,” Ratzinger predicted. The Church “will no longer be able to inhabit many of the edifices she built in prosperity and . . . in contrast to an earlier age, she will be seen much more as a voluntary society, entered only by free decision . . . and that make bigger demands on the initiative of her individual members.”[50] But the result will be a Church that becomes “fruitful from a new interior power,”[51] says Ratzinger. We are called to become once more the Church of faith, not of political power, where people may find their home, life, and hope beyond death.[52] Ratzinger did not sugarcoat or diminish the struggles, upheavals, and challenges that the Church would need to face. Still, he was also convinced that “a great power will flow from a more spiritualized and simplified Church.”[53] And then, if the Church lets herself be purified and go back to the roots that created her, something beautiful will happen. Human beings “in a totally planned world will find themselves unspeakably lonely,”[54] explains Ratzinger—and how right he was! Just think about the dire loneliness our young people experience today, which so often leads them to despair. “If they have completely lost sight of God, they will feel the whole horror of their poverty. Then,” Ratzinger continues, “they will discover the little flock of believers as something wholly new. They will discover it as a hope that is meant for them, an answer for which they have always been searching in secret.”[55]

Pope Francis and the Missionary Renewal of the Church

So far, I have described the current situation in which the Church exercises her ministry. I have also emphasized Ratzinger and Pope Francis’ judgment about the possibility that such circumstances open for a renewal of the Church. Now, I want to ask an essential question: how does the Church renew itself? How does the Christian announcement reach and convert the hearts of today’s men and women? Pope Francis has devoted the whole of his pontificate to reflecting on and suggesting an answer to these questions. And I now want to turn my attention to the Holy Father’s proposal for the missionary renewal and conversion of the Church.

What should we do to answer all the challenges that a secular age poses to the life of faith? The Holy Father Pope Francis has no doubts. We must go back to the essential elements of Christianity. We must go back to the kerygma, the first announcement, which, the Pope said, “needs to be the center of all evangelizing activity and all efforts at Church renewal.”[56] I have always been moved by how Pope Francis describes such kerygma at the beginning of his apostolic letter Evangelii Gaudium:

The joy of the gospel fills the hearts and lives of all who encounter Jesus. Those who accept his offer of salvation are set free from sin, sorrow, inner emptiness and loneliness. With Christ joy is constantly born anew. . . . I invite all Christians, everywhere, at this very moment, to a renewed personal encounter with Jesus Christ, or at least an openness to letting him encounter them. . . . No one should think that this invitation is not meant for him or her, since “no one is excluded from the joy brought by the Lord” (Paul VI, Gaudete in Domino, no 22). The Lord does not disappoint those who take this risk; whenever we take a step towards Jesus, we come to realize that he is already there, waiting for us with open arms. Thanks solely to this encounter—or renewed encounter—with God’s love . . . we are liberated from our narrowness and self-absorption. We become fully human.[57]

“Does faith have any chance at all today?” asked Ratzinger in a 1996 lecture. Yes, he responded, “because it corresponds to the nature of [the person]. . . . The longing for the infinite is alive and unquenchable within [human beings]. None of the attempted answers will do; only . . . God . . . corresponds to the question of our being.”[58] In the secular age, when all people are spiritual searchers, longing to find their authentic self and happiness, Christianity has the possibility of showing the relevance of Christ to life’s needs. In a way, the crisis is an opportunity for the newness brought by Christ to be even more evident because we can all see the confusion, inertia, loneliness, anger, and despair that emerge when people look for happiness in everything rather than God. Accordingly, there is nothing more important for the Church than to stand as a powerful witness of the promise, the “hundredfold” (Mat 19:29) to say it with the Gospel, that Christ promises. As Pope Paul VI famously said, “Modern man listens more willingly to witnesses than to teachers, and if he does listen to teachers, it is because they are witnesses.”[59] The fundamental task of Christians within a pluralistic society like ours is witnessing to the new life that springs from the encounter with Christ; we have no greater treasure to offer to our contemporaries. In fact, the current circumstances might allow the faith to make its newness and correspondence more clear, as long as Christians take them as an opportunity to discover its true nature. And what is Christianity’s true nature? The Holy Father Pope Francis tells us that the Church’s primary task “is to introduce everyone to the great mystery of God’s mercy.”[60] The Church exists, continues the Pope, “to bring about an encounter with the visceral love of God’s mercy.”[61] The Church is where we can experience the joyful amazement of encountering Christ and the sweetness of his forgiveness. God, in his love, commissioned the apostles and all their successors to be instruments of the Father’s mercy (cf. John 20:19–23), so that we might encounter it concretely and not just as an abstract idea. “The Church is ‘God’s house,’” explains Francis, “the place of his presence, where we can find and encounter the Lord.”[62] Francis also observes that “still today some say: ‘Christ yes, the Church no. . . . But it is the Church herself which brings Christ to us and which brings us to God.”[63]

God is not afraid of the questions that contemporary men and women ask. God is not afraid of the freedom with which they search for fulfillment and happiness. If we live in the age of spiritual searchers, it is at least in part because, as the Catechism says, “the desire for God is written in the human heart, because man is created by God and for God; and God never ceases to draw man to himself.”[64] People today are on a journey, and the Church must stand ready to embrace, welcome, and direct the desire that our contemporaries have to find their realization. As Pope Francis wrote in Amoris Laetitia, “Today, it is less and less effective to demand something that calls for effort and sacrifice, without clearly pointing to the benefits which it can bring.”[65] The proclamation of objective truths is insufficient to convert people’s hearts. For our witness to impact the lives of others, we need to realize that “a good ethical education includes showing a person that it is in his own interest to do what is right,”[66] so we need to help others “arrive at the point where the good that the intellect grasps can take root in us as a profound affective inclination, as a thirst for the good that outweighs other attractions and helps us to realize that what we consider objectively good is also good ‘for us’ here and now.”[67]

For a person to grow in maturity and certainty, she needs to learn the capacity to use freedom wisely and responsibly so that she may “come to possess the wherewithal needed to fend for [herself] and to act intelligently and prudently whenever [she] meet[s] with difficulties.”[68] As families do with their children, the Church, too, needs to educate people by cultivating their freedom so that each one may “act out of conscious and free choice, as moved and drawn in a personal way from within.”[69] Christ never breaks down the doors of our hearts with violence but gently awaits, knocking, until we freely say “yes” to him and welcome him and his transforming light into our lives. Now more than ever, faith becomes convincing only if people are given a chance to verify its truth, to see for themselves whether Christ’s promises stand up to the full breadth of their desire, freedom, and reason. As Pope Benedict XVI said while addressing the clergy of Rome in 2007, people, especially the youth, want to discover whether the “Christian life today is possible, and also reasonable and feasible.”[70] They question whether it is truly possible to live this way. And, Pope Benedict XVI continued, “we cannot conceive of immediately living a life that is 100% Christian without doubts and without sins. We have to recognize that we are journeying on, that we must and can learn, and also, gradually, that we must convert. Of course, fundamental conversion is a definitive act. But true conversion is an act of life that is achieved through the patience of a lifetime. It is an act in which we must not lose trust and courage on the way.”[71]

It is such a personal and ecclesial conversion that animates Pope Francis’s ministry and also his vision of synodality. He repeats it often; it is an illusion that the Church will grow simply by reforming structures or issuing new guidelines and programs. “Conversion is a never-ending story,”[72] Pope Francis explained recently. “The worst thing that could happen to us is to think that we are no longer in need of conversion, either as individuals or as a community.”[73] In fact, he continued, “to be converted is to learn ever anew how to take the Gospel message seriously and to put it into practice in our lives. . . . Where the Gospel is concerned, we are always like children needing to learn. The illusion that we have learned everything makes us fall into spiritual pride.”[74] Our current reflection on the Church’s synodality,” he concluded, “is the fruit of our conviction that the process of understanding Christ’s message never ends, but constantly challenges us.”[75] Without a change of mentality, without a move away from pride and all the bad habits that it entails, all our efforts at practical improvement and responding to the present circumstances will be in vain.

God is calling us to be a Church filled with missionary disciples. We are called to be a Church that journeys with people, encounters, and listens to them—a Church, that is, that embodies God’s style, as Pope Francis likes to call it, which is always one of closeness, compassion, and tenderness.[76]

And why is there such an urgency to embody the style of God? Because in the secular age, as in all ages, human beings need the transforming encounter with the Lord. They need the liberation and redemption that comes from Christ. And to experience such realities, they need to have a transforming encounter with the reality in which Christ dwells, his Body, the Church. The encounter with Christ will less and less happen because of a tradition or a culture that people can absorb with the air they breathe and water they drink as it happened in the past. Instead, people today need to encounter Christ by encountering men and women who are transformed by him. That is why from the beginning of his pontificate, the Holy Father has insisted on the urgent need to become missionary disciples, that is, in his words, “joyful messengers of challenging proposals, guardians of the goodness and beauty which shines forth in a life of fidelity to the Gospel.”[77]

[1] Francis, “Address to the Fifth National Conference of the Italian Church,” November 10, 2015.

[2] Francis, “Christmas Greetings to the Roman Curia,” December 21, 2023.

[3] Benedict XVI, Porta Fidei, §2.

[4] Benedict XVI, “Homily for the Solemnity of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul,” June 28, 2010.

[5] Joseph Ratzinger, Faith and the Future (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2019), 15.

[6] Joseph Ratzinger, Faith and the Future, 15.

[7] Joseph Ratzinger, Introduction to Christianity (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2004), 40.

[8] Joseph Ratzinger, Faith and the Future, 15.

[9] Joseph Ratzinger, Faith and the Future, 15.

[10] Joseph Ratzinger, Faith and the Future, 25.

[11] Joseph Ratzinger, Faith and the Future, 24–5.

[12] Joseph Ratzinger, Faith and the Future, 26.

[13] Joseph Ratzinger, Faith and the Future, 27.

[14] Joseph Ratzinger, “Homily for the ‘Pro Eligendo Pontifice’ Mass,” April 18, 2005.

[15] Quoted in Joseph Ratzinger, Faith and the Future, 50.

[16] Charles Taylor, A Secular Age (Cambridge: Belknap Harvard University Press, 2009), 530.

[17] Joseph Ratzinger, Faith and the Future, 92.

[18] Charles Taylor, A Secular Age, 530.

[19] Charles Taylor, A Secular Age, 530.

[20] Charles Taylor, A Secular Age, 535.

[21] Charles Taylor, A Secular Age, 475.

[22] Charles Taylor, A Secular Age, 489.

[23] Charles Taylor, A Secular Age, 506.

[24] Charles Taylor, A Secular Age, 507.

[25] Charles Taylor, A Secular Age, 507.

[26] Charles Taylor, A Secular Age, 13–4.

[27] Charles Taylor, A Secular Age, 16.

[28] Charles Taylor, A Secular Age, 19.

[29] Charles Taylor, A Secular Age, 21.

[30] Charles Taylor, A Secular Age, 11.

[31] Charles Taylor, A Secular Age, 12.

[32] Charles Taylor, A Secular Age, 437.

[33] Charles Taylor, A Secular Age, 14.

[34] Charles Taylor, A Secular Age, 14.

[35] Charles Taylor, A Secular Age, 556.

[36] Joseph Ratzinger, Faith and the Future, 97.

[37] Joseph Ratzinger, Faith and the Future, 84-5.

[38] Joseph Ratzinger, Faith and the Future, 60.

[39] Charles Taylor, A Secular Age, 531.

[40] Charles Taylor, A Secular Age, 532.

[41] Charles Taylor, A Secular Age, 532.

[42] Francis, “Interview with Tertio,” July 12, 2016.

[43] Francis, “Interview with Tertio,” July 12, 2016.

[44] Francis, “Interview with Tertio,” July 12, 2016.

[45] Francis, “Address to the Slovakian Bishops, Priests, Religious, and Seminarians,” September 13, 2021.

[46] Francis, “Address to the Slovakian Bishops, Priests, Religious, and Seminarians,” September 13, 2021.

[47] Francis, “Address to the Slovakian Bishops, Priests, Religious, and Seminarians,” September 13, 2021.

[48] Joseph Ratzinger, Faith and the Future, 117.

[49] Joseph Ratzinger, Faith and the Future, 117.

[50] Joseph Ratzinger, Faith and the Future, 116.

[51] Joseph Ratzinger, Faith and the Future, 113.

[52] Joseph Ratzinger, Faith and the Future, 118.

[53] Joseph Ratzinger, Faith and the Future, 118.

[54] Joseph Ratzinger, Faith and the Future, 118.

[55] Joseph Ratzinger, Faith and the Future, 118.

[56] Francis, Evangelii Gaudium, §164.

[57] Francis, Evangelii Gaudium, nos. 1–3, 5, and 7–8.

[58] Joseph Ratzinger, Truth and Tolerance (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2003), 137.

[59] Paul VI, Evangelii Nuntiandi, §41.

[60] Francis, “Homily for the Holy Mass in the Parish of Saint Anna in the Vatican,” March 17, 2013.

[61] Francis, Misericordiae Vultus, §25.

[62] Francis, “General Audience,” June 26, 2013.

[63] Francis, “General Audience,” May 29, 2013.

[64] CCC, §27.

[65] Francis, Amoris Laetitia, §265.

[66] Francis, Amoris Laetitia, §265.

[67] Francis, Amoris Laetitia, §265.

[68] Francis, Amoris Laetitia, §261.

[69] Francis, Amoris Laetitia, §267.

[70] Benedict XVI, “Lenten Meeting with the Clergy of Rome,” February 22, 2007.

[71] Benedict XVI, “Lenten Meeting with the Clergy of Rome,” February 22, 2007.

[72] Francis, “Christmas Greetings to the Roman Curia,” December 22, 2022.

[73] Francis, “Christmas Greetings to the Roman Curia,” December 22, 2022.

[74] Francis, “Christmas Greetings to the Roman Curia,” December 22, 2022.

[75] Francis, “Christmas Greetings to the Roman Curia,” December 22, 2022.

[76] Francis, “Angelus,” February 14, 2021.

[77] Francis, Evangelii Gaudium, §168.

Featured Image: Giotto, Navicella, 1305; Source: Wikimedia Commons, PD-Old-100. 


Alessandro Rovati

Alessandro Rovati is Assistant Professor and Chair of Theology at Belmont Abbey College. He sits on the Board of Directors of New Wine, New Wineskins.

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