In his address to the participants of plenary session of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity Pope Benedict XVI said that the worldwide crisis of faith has entered a new phase of deterioration with many people not even aware that the absence of God in their lives was a deprivation:
‘The spiritual poverty of many of our contemporaries, who no longer perceive the absence of God from their life as a deprivation, constitutes a challenge to all Christians. In this context, we believers in Christ are asked to return to the essential, to the heart of our faith, to bear witness together to the world to the living God, that is, to a God who knows and loves us, under whose gaze we live; of a God who expects the response of our love in everyday life.
The commitment of Churches and ecclesial Communities to a renewed proclamation of the Gospel to today’s people is thus a cause of hope. Indeed, bearing witness to the living God who made himself close in Christ, is the most urgent imperative for all Christians, and it is also an imperative that unites us, in spite of the incomplete ecclesial communion that we still feel. We must not forget what unites us, namely, faith in God, Father and Creator, who revealed himself in the Son, Jesus Christ, pouring out the Spirit who gives life and sanctifies. This is the faith of Baptism that we have received, and is the faith that we can profess together in hope and charity. In the light of the priority of faith we also understand the importance of theological dialogue and conversations with the Churches and ecclesial Communities to which the Catholic Church is committed. Even when the possibility of the reestablishment of full communion cannot be glimpsed in an immediate future, they make it possible to perceive, as well as resistance and obstacles, also a wealth of experiences, of spiritual life and theological reflections that become an incentive for a witness ever more profound.
Protect the Pope comment: We need to face the reality that many of our contempories comes from familes that for generations have not had a living relationship with Christ, have no knowledge of the Gospel, and don’t even know that the absence of God from their lives is a tragic deprivation that frustrates their search for happiness and meaning. Their position is in fact worse than that of genuine pagans, because they often think they know what they are rejecting, when in fact they are rejecting a twisted caricature of the faith.
Pope Benedict is right that in the face of this unprecedented crisis we need to work with other Christians, but the problem with this is that many of the Protestant ecclesial communities have abandoned the apostolic faith and embraced the modernity that results in loss of faith in God. The gulf has grown so wide between the Churches who remain faithful to the apostolic tradition and these communities that reflect secular values that it is difficult to see how a deeper theological dialogue can be worthwhile or fruitful.
The Holy Father rightly exhorts us to concentrate on what unites us, particularly ‘faith in God, Father and Creator, who revealed himself in the Son, Jesus Christ, pouring out the Spirit who gives life and sanctifies.’ But can those communities that accept contraception, abortion, divorce, homosexuality, and same-sex unions any longer be recognised as holding faith in God, Father and Creator, who revealed himself in the Son, pouring out the Spirit who gives life and sanctifies. Just because they say they share this faith doesn’t make it so. Their actions speak louder than their words when it comes to accepting Almighty God’s Lordship over human life.