Many religious denominations today feel pressure to modernize the teachings of the Scripture to fit today’s world, as well as unifying religions, but the former doctrinal czar of the Vatican has given a poignant speech, warning about the dangers of relativism and a “meta-religion.”
Many are trying to reshape religions to fit modern times
Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Müller, who is the Vatican’s former doctrinal czar, delivered a January 1 homily in Phoenix at the 2020 Student Leadership Summit, which was hosted by the Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS), in which he delivered a profound and poignant statement against the modernization of religion to fit the times we live in.
While not doing so by name, Cardinal Müller seemed to be speaking out against the progressive actions of Pope Francis, as well as other religious denominations in the United States and around the world, which are trying to adapt the Gospels to fit the culture and lifestyles of today’s modern world.
“In order to be admitted to this meta-religion, the only price the Church would have to pay is giving up her truth claim,” Cardinal Müller said. “No big deal, it seems, as the relativism dominant in our world anyway rejects the idea that we could actually know the truth and presents itself as guarantor of peace between all world views and world religions.”
Müller then commented that the post-Christian world welcomes these efforts to remake the Church “as a convenient civil religion.”
God’s word never changes – so why modernize?
One of the biggest arguments against modernizing religions to fit today’s world is the idea of the steadfastness of God’s word. If God’s word is the truth – that truth doesn’t change.
“For some, the Catholic Church is lagging behind by 200 years compared to where the world is today,” Müller said, seemingly referring to recent comments by Pope Francis. “Is there any truth to this accusation?”
Pope wants to modernize the church – will he go too far?
On December 21, Pope Francis spoke of the need for the Catholic Church to modernize.
“The Church has remained 200 years behind the times. Why has it not been shaken up?” Pope Francis asked.
“There is always a temptation to fall back on the past,” Francis added, “because it is more reassuring, known and, certainly less conflictual. Yet this too is part of the process and the risk of undertaking significant changes.”
“The healthy approach is rather to let oneself be interrogated by challenges of the present time,” the Pope continued. “Change, in this sense, would assume an entirely different aspect: from a surrounding element, a context and a pretext, from an outside landscape.”
The Pope said the church needs to move beyond linear evolution, and at the present time is one of “epochal” changes and predicts that, by modernizing the church “would become ever more human and Christian.”
But many fear that Pope Francis is pushing the church toward humanism and a global type of religion, as it moves away from tradition.
Modernization is the result of a life without God
“The crisis in the Church is man-made and has arisen because we have cozily adapted ourselves to the spirit of a life without God,” Cardinal Müller said. “The poison paralyzing the Church is the opinion that we should adapt to the Zeitgeist, the spirit of the age, and not the spirit of God.”
Müller urged “that we should relativize God’s commandments and reinterpret the doctrine of the revealed faith.”
Getting back to God
Cardinal Müller then spoke about how faith can bring us back and closer to God without the need to modernize religion to suit the times.
Anyone who has faith and believes “needs no ideology,” Müller said.
“The one who hopes will not reach for drugs,” Müller asserted. “The one who loves is not after the lust of this world, which passes along with the world. The one who loves God and his neighbor finds happiness in the sacrifice of self-giving.”
The path to happiness
“We will be happy and free – when in the spirit of love – we embrace the form of life to which God has called each one of us personally,” Cardinal Müller concluded, and then pointed out the path to happiness in life:
“In the sacrament of marriage, in celibate priesthood, or in religious life according to the three evangelical counsels of poverty, obedience, and chastity for the sake of the kingdom of heaven.”