The New Pagans and the Church
by Pope Benedict XVI, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger
A 1958 Lecture by Joseph Ratzinger
This lecture was delivered in 1958 by Joseph Ratzinger when he was a young priest assigned to youth ministry. He had been assigned to lecture to young people and hold religious instruction classes. The lecture was translated by Fr. Kenneth Baker, S.J.
According to religious statistics, old Europe is still a part of the earth that is almost completely Christian. But there is hardly another case in which everyone knows as well as they do here that the statistic is false: This so-called Christian Europe for almost four hundred years has become the birthplace of a new paganism, which is growing steadily in the heart of the Church, and threatens to undermine her from within. The outward shape of the modern Church is determined essentially by the fact that, in a totally new way, she has become the Church of pagans, and is constantly becoming even more so. She is no longer, as she once was, a Church composed of pagans who have become Christians, but a Church of pagans, who still call themselves Christians, but actually have become pagans. Paganism resides today in the Church herself, and precisely that is the characteristic of the Church of our day, and that of the new paganism, so that it is a matter of a paganism in the Church, and of a Church in whose heart paganism is living.
New Oxford American Dictionary
Definition of the word “Pagan”
a person holding religious beliefs other than those of the main world religions.
• dated, derogatory a non-Christian.
• an adherent of neopaganism.
Definition of the word “Neopaganism”
1 a person who is concerned with or advocates the protection of the environment.
2 a person who considers that environment, as opposed to heredity, has the primary influence on the development of a person or group.
Neopaganism is a highly varied mixture of ancient and modern elements, in which nature worship (influenced by modern environmentalism) often plays a major role. another influence is … magical and occult traditions, and radical feminist critiques of Christianity.
Let us pray
All powerful God, it is through your Church, generously endowed with gifts of grace and fortified by the Holy Spirit, that you send out your word [that the “Past is Prologue”] to all nations. Strengthen your Church with the best of all food and make it dauntless in faith. Multiply its children to celebrate with one accord the mysteries of your love at the altar on high.