Haunting Prophecy from Pope Emeritus “The Church of tomorrow will become small…we will have to start afresh”

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In a 1969 radio broadcast, that is now becoming legendary, Professor Josef Ratzinger’s suggested the Church will look very different in the future:

“From the crisis of today the Church of tomorrow will emerge — a Church that has lost much. She will become small and will have to start afresh more or less from the beginning. She will no longer be able to inhabit many of the edifices she built in prosperity. As the number of her adherents diminishes, so it will lose many of her social privileges. In contrast to an earlier age, it will be seen much more as a voluntary society, entered only by free decision. As a small society, it will make much bigger demands on the initiative of her individual members. Undoubtedly it will discover new forms of ministry and will ordain to the priesthood approved Christians who pursue some profession. In many smaller congregations or in self-contained social groups, pastoral care will normally be provided in this fashion. Along-side this, the full-time ministry of the priesthood will be indispensable as formerly. But in all of the changes at which one might guess, the Church will find her essence afresh and with full conviction in that which was always at her center: faith in the triune God, in Jesus Christ, the Son of God made man, in the presence of the Spirit until the end of the world. In faith and prayer she will again recognize the sacraments as the worship of God and not as a subject for liturgical scholarship.

“The Church will be a more spiritual Church, not presuming upon a political mandate, flirting as little with the Left as with the Right. It will be hard going for the Church, for the process of crystallization and clarification will cost her much valuable energy. It will make her poor and cause her to become the Church of the meek. The process will be all the more arduous, for sectarian narrow-mindedness as well as pompous self-will will have to be shed. One may predict that all of this will take time. The process will be long and wearisome as was the road from the false progressivism on the eve of the French Revolution — when a bishop might be thought smart if he made fun of dogmas and even insinuated that the existence of God was by no means certain — to the renewal of the nineteenth century. But when the trial of this sifting is past, a great power will flow from a more spiritualized and simplified Church. Men in a totally planned world will find themselves unspeakably lonely. If they have completely lost sight of God, they will feel the whole horror of their poverty. Then they will discover the little flock of believers as something wholly new. They will discover it as a hope that is meant for them, an answer for which they have always been searching in secret.

“And so it seems certain to me that the Church is facing very hard times. The real crisis has scarcely begun. We will have to count on terrific upheavals. But I am equally certain about what will remain at the end: not the Church of the political cult, which is dead already, but the Church of faith. It may well no longer be the dominant social power to the extent that she was until recently; but it will enjoy a fresh blossoming and be seen as man’s home, where he will find life and hope beyond death.”

2 thoughts on “Haunting Prophecy from Pope Emeritus “The Church of tomorrow will become small…we will have to start afresh”

  • Seems so to me.

  • I think this is worth reading. Thought I believe the artwork is unfortunate. I believe that the wound in the Body of Christ will only be brought more to light, a necessary step for us all. So things may get worse news-wise. My faith is not determined by how our leaders act, but by my faith in Jesus Christ, and he is the heart of the Church. The Church and its leaders need to be challenged and if needed, to be punished for the great harm they have done.


    compassion is also needed, and not the desire to hurt or to get even. We are called by Jesus to grow in love for all, knowing that all men and women are beloved of God. We must face the truth, embrace the confusion and anger many of us feel, but stay on course. Healing can only happen
    when all is brought to the light.

    We are all sinners, and I know that abusers, for the most part, were abused as children, not as an excuse, but something to remember.

    I do know that this Gordian knot can only be undone by God’s infinite grace and mercy shown to all. There is great
    sorrow in my heart, as well as anger, but to sink into despair, or hatred is a waste of time and will only give power to evil.

    God bless us all.–BrMD

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