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The Kirk Surrenders

The sun sets on Christianity in Scotland (Francesco de Marco/Shutterstock)

John Haldane reflects on the mortal decline of the Church of Scotland, and compares it to the woes of the Roman Catholic Church at its current Synod.  The reflection was prompted by this mail-out from the Kirk, asking people to participate in its campaign to define its work of the next decade. It’s social-gospeller boilerplate; at no place does it mention God, or Jesus Christ. On the declining Kirk’s main webpage, they have a special link touting its current Properties for Sale. Anyway, Haldane writes that the decline will continue in the Roman Catholic Church too — but that there’s a difference:

In general, then, inefficient and unseemly—but, as they say, “here’s the thing.” For all that messiness [at the Synod], the upshot will be reaffirmation of existing teachings on sex and marriage. No printer or publisher should invest in the possibility of a reprinting of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, though they might hope for some small short-term commissions for pastoral letters in Washington and Munich. The absence of ‘progressive movement’ will lead to a fairly speedy decline in the ‘popularity’ of Pope Francis and a resumption of the attacks on the Catholic Church as the last bastion of resistance to making ‘a fairer, more equal and more just world’.

There will be further lay and clerical dissent, defection and lapsation, closing of parishes for lack of priests, insolvency of dioceses, closures of Catholic agencies, including schools, apostasy among colleges and universities, and so on. In that sense its decline could look like that of the Church of Scotland. The difference, however, is that it will be because ‘having tested everything it is holding fast to what is good’; and it will still be there in two generations when the turn will come.

Amen. This is one of the missions of all the churches: Benedict Option yourselves, doing what is necessary to be faithful when the turn comes. The generation living through this rolling catastrophe will be looking for light, shelter, and sanity — and, dare I say it, holiness.

UPDATE: Uh-oh. From a report on Pope Francis’s homily today. The Pope said:

“Times are changing and we Christians must change continually. We must change whilst remaining fixed to our faith in Jesus Christ, fixed to the truth of the Gospel but we must adapt our attitude continuously according to the signs of the times. We are free. We are free thanks to the gift of freedom given to us by Jesus Christ. But our job is to look at what is happening within us, discern our feelings, our thoughts and what is happening around us and discern the signs of the times – through silence, reflection and prayer.”

This one ain’t over till the Argentinian sings.

about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. He has written and edited for the New York Post, The Dallas Morning News, National Review, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, the Washington Times, and the Baton Rouge Advocate. Rod’s commentary has been published in The Wall Street Journal, Commentary, the Weekly Standard, Beliefnet, and Real Simple, among other publications, and he has appeared on NPR, ABC News, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, and the BBC. He lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, with his wife Julie and their three children. He has also written four books, The Little Way of Ruthie Leming, Crunchy Cons, How Dante Can Save Your Life, and The Benedict Option.

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