Discover our Autumn Notebook

What Christianity to come?

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Contents of our Autumn Notebook


A European quarter
What Christianity to come?
Christianity still in crisis
Religion in the West
Christianity, the end of a religion?
Christianity or the Kingdom?
Places to hope
Should we despair of religions?
Spiritual portrait of a generation


A new sexual civility. Interview with Irène Théry


Medici workshops. The new Clichy has arrived
ATD Fourth World
The Cised, volunteers at the service of students


Father Matthieu, faith in networks


One thousand and one nights in Qatar
The soap opera of Notre-Dame
autumn books

major maintenance

Konstantin Sigov. Ukraine – A millennial resistance

SEE (to consult on our reader)

Afghan women: those who remain
End to end

Presentation of our file “What Christianity to come? »

What is Christianity? This is a question that we are not used to asking ourselves as the answer may seem obvious in a country like France, “eldest daughter of the Church” according to the consecrated formula and, above all, a land of Christianity. for so many centuries – just look at these churches planted in the heart of towns and villages, these crosses that adorn the crossroads, the stones of our cemeteries.

Conversely, religious statistics show the inexorable fall of all Christian markers. Monthly religious practice concerns about 4% of the population, weekly practice 2%. The rest is in keeping ; in 2019, one child in four is baptized, while 44,000 religious marriages are celebrated – a drop by half in ten years. Even religious funerals are no longer desired by more than 50% of French men and women. As for the religious personnel, mainly the priests, their recruitment is more and more meager. To this table, we must add two elements whose impacts are currently difficult to measure and even more so to dissociate: the effect of Covid and confinements and the shock of the revelation of abuse. For the time being, we observe an acceleration of the disaffection of religious practice and the sacraments without it being known yet whether it is reversible.

But is church attendance or the practice of the sacraments enough to define Christianity? Obviously not. Because, if we are now in a world where the Christian religious form has become marginal, its imprint remains deep and goes well beyond a cultural coloring. This way of looking at life, of looking to the future, of enduring uncertainty, suffering, of living with others continues to permeate us powerfully, whether we are believers or not. Often, we speak of Christian values ​​to wrap in a single term the variety of these influences. The term is improper because it suggests that it is mainly about moral values, whereas it is about a total way of thinking. We can clearly see that our contemporaries, while moving away from what is called religion, remain attached to this cultural and aesthetic, intellectual and moral landscape. Some call it the West, others Christianity or “Christian roots”. It feeds our imagination and sometimes our identity fantasies – in the sense that it makes it possible to make the difference between “us”, who are part of it, and “them”, the others, foreigners, not in the legal sense but from the symbolic point of view.

Origins and paradoxes

If there is, however, an original characteristic of Christianity, it is precisely to have broken with the idea that religion was linked to a place, a people, a land, and even to a common history. Born in the eastern periphery of the Roman Empire, it emancipated itself from it and spread all around the Mediterranean. Then he will bring together those who are called barbarians and will gradually reach the confines of the known world, until he crosses the oceans, and will thus demonstrate his universalist competence: Christianity is for all men, of all origins, and even for women – although in this respect both Orthodoxy and Catholicism are still seriously behind.

One of the paradoxes, undoubtedly the most singular, is that it is on the lands and in the cultures that it has most deeply and longest imprinted that the religious and institutional form of Christianity is most massively implemented. cause and stricken with obsolescence. The philosopher Marcel Gauchet proposed an interpretation that is widely accepted today by stating that Christianity would be “the religion of leaving religion”it being specified that this is not an exit from religious belief but a “out of a world where religion is structuring, where it controls the political form of societies and defines the economy of social ties”.

The debate remains in the different Christian currents. Should we have more religion and reaffirm a strict regime of norms while neglecting the risk of a marginal or sectarian destiny? Should we imagine a survival of the faith with hardly any religious form, in small elective and warm communities? But, here again, the sectarian danger lurks. Unless Christianity is transformed into a great system of cultural transmission which would define a common substrate for living together in a common framework. We can also favor the solidarist, fraternal and pacifist part of the Gospel and transform our Churches into powerful NGOs, or even specialize in the symbolic accompaniment of the major stages of life…

All these paths are possible and can coexist. Do they ensure the future of Christianity? The question reaches an urgency and acuity never equaled. The crisis we are going through is deep. The desire to believe persists and very often expresses itself in the sense of credulity. Thus, in France, the younger generation say they do not believe in God but give credit to witchcraft. The desire for the absolute is embodied in radical and sometimes violent commitments, and many prefer to believe in a gigantic global conspiracy rather than accepting the complexity of the world and the vagaries of life.

One thing is certain, a huge project is opening up, it needs arms, intelligence and it will not be enough to open ordination to men married within Catholicism to find the vital energy, the gushing source of Christianity, the one that makes the disciples run from Emmaus to Jerusalem, “heart burning”.

Christine Pedotti

Discover our Autumn Notebook – Christian Testimony