Vatican synod warns of "eclipse" of faith in rich countries

Fri Oct 26, 2012 9:27am EDT
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By Philip Pullella

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - The Roman Catholic faith in many advanced countries risks being "eclipsed" by an increasingly secularized and materialistic world, bishops who discussed strategies on how to woo lapsed faithful back to the fold said on Friday.

The alarm was sounded in the final message of a synod of bishops from around the world who met at the Vatican on the theme of the "New Evagelisation", or the need to stop the hemorrhaging of the faithful, particularly in developed countries.

"Everywhere indeed we feel the need to revive a faith that risks eclipse in cultural contexts that hinders its taking root in persons and its presence in society ...," the message said.

The 1.2 billion-member Church will have its work cut out for it in developed nations in order to win back "the often distracted and confused hearts and minds of the men and women of our times", it said.

The Church is suffering desertions from its practicing flock in former strongholds in Europe, North America and Latin America due to sex abuse scandals, increasing secularism, rival faiths and open dissent against Church teachings on homosexuality and its ban on a female priesthood.

The message, a synthesis of the topics discussed in three weeks by more than 260 bishops, said that while the gospel could not be "a product to be placed in the market of religions", the Church needed to find new ways of putting it "into practice in today's circumstances".

It took a dig at the United States and Canada, saying the countries of North America needed "recognize the many expressions of the present culture in the countries of your world which are today far from the Gospel".