Pope: Millions are losing their religion and declaring God is dead
Modern culture is so devoid of faith that some people are declaring God “dead” and entire nations are losing their identity, Pope Benedict XVI warned yesterday.
The 81-year-old pontiff said that God was being pushed out of people’s lives under the “harmful and destructive influence” of today’s society.
His comments, made during a Mass at the start of a month-long synod of Roman Catholic bishops from around the world, come amid growing concern about the decline in church attendance and interest in religion in many Western nations.
Pope Benedict is particularly worried about a growing indifference to religion in Europe.
In recent decades, the Catholic Church’s influence has seen a decline in developed countries, although it is growing in the Third World.
Both the Church of Scotland and Scottish Catholic Church have seen a drop in worshippers in recent years — the Church of Scotland has seen numbers fall nearly 60 per cent since 1960, and between 1994 and 2003, Mass attendances fell from 250,000 to 194,728. Earlier this year the Vatican also reported a dramatic fall in the number of Roman Catholic monks and nuns.
Ronnie Convery, spokesman for the Scottish Catholic Church, said Pope Benedict’s comments reflected the concerns religious leaders had been aware of for some time.
“What we are seeing is that our culture has changed, subtly but significantly,” Mr Convery said. “Many people today, even though they wouldn’t declare themselves atheist, behave as though God doesn’t exist.
“One of the main challenges of the Catholic Church is to remind people of their Christian roots and the important role that the Church has played in the shaping of our culture.”
The Pope has begun a Bible-reading marathon on Italian television
ROME – Pope Benedict’s “In the beginning” has started off a weeklong Bible-reading marathon on Italian television.
RAI state TV began its program called “The Bible Day and Night,” with Benedict reciting the first chapter of the book of Genesis – the holy text’s opening verses about the creation of the world.
The marathon will feature more than 1,200 people reading the Old and New Testament in over seven days and six nights.
While the pope recited his segment from the Vatican, most of the reading will be done live in Rome’s Santa Croce in Gerusalemme, a basilica built in the fourth century.
Besides Roman Catholics, members of other religions, including Jews, Protestants and Orthodox Christians will participate.