Web 2.0 and the Diversity of World Catholicism

by on 週六, 24 三月 2007 評論
With some 1.1 billion members, the Catholic Church is the world’s largest single religious body. It is also becoming more and more universal. While, in the past, the majority or the clergy and the faithful, were of Western, especially European origin, the transformation occurred during the last fifty years have been astounding. Africa has seen the number of Catholics growing exponentially, and, because of demographic shifts, Latin America and, to a lesser degree, Asia have also increased their share within the Church. It can be safely predicted that the Catholic Church will be less and less a European one. These changes had been well prepared by the second Vatican Council, held at the beginning of the sixties, which opened the Church to the modern world and to the diversity of cultures.
At the sane time, the Church is undergoing a number of crises: in its former strongholds, such as Western Europe, its influence is faltering; in Latin America, the appeal of Protestant fundamentalist cults is growing; in the US and elsewhere the sex abuse scandal has weakened the clergy; new scientific challenges, especially in the bioethics field, oblige the Church to reexamine part of its teachings; women are looking for a more recognized role within the hierarchical structure of the Church; and the dialogue with other religions, especially with Islam, is not only as smooth as could be desired….

The future of the Catholic Church is not of interest for Catholics alone. As one of the biggest and most influential organizations in the world, Catholicism exercises an influence that goes far beyond the number of the faithful. This is very clear in Taiwan. Though the number of Catholics is very modest (a little over 300,000, as far as this can be asserted), the church has been extremely influential and effective in operating institutional and medical facilities, and its cultural reach is not limited to parishes. Its role in organizing and energizing aboriginal communities has been and continue to be important. At the same time, its has not fulfilled the hopes that it cold have in the xsixties when it started to spread around the island. The Church is older and less creative than it was three decades ago. In Taiwan as elsewhere the Catholic church is indeed at the crossroads.

Will we move towards a Web 2.0 model for the Church? However important the clergy might be, the Church is built around the “people of God’ – the faithful. Throughout the voice of ordinary Catholics we can also discern which road the Church has to take. Each day we have to decide anew tot ake on the road rather than standing at the crossroads…

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