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Books

WHO NEEDS GOD?, by Barbara Stockl with Christoph Cardinal Schönborn

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 Contents - Nov 2013AD2000 November 2013 - Buy a copy now
Editorial: Pope Francis' call to holiness - Peter Westmore
Human rights: Zoe's Law and the right to life - Eamonn Keane
News: The Church Around the World
Culture: Cardinal Pell: defend religious freedom - Cardinal George Pell
Schools: The future of Catholic education - Archbishop Timothy Costelloe
Youth: Emmanuel Community: youth ministry powerhouse - Br Barry Coldrey
Interview: G.K. Chesterton's cause for sainthood - Dale Ahlquist
Marriage: Humanae Vitae: for an excellent love - Anne Lastman
Marriage: English bishop warns on same-sex marriage law - Bishop Philip Egan
Letters: Pope misrepresented - C. O'Driscoll
Letters: Australia's new Prime Minister - Arnold Jago
Letters: Three to get married - Cedric Wright
Letters: Total love - Madge Fahy
Letters: Clutching at straws - Anne Lastman
Letters: Finding balance - Walter H. Kirk
Books: Mighty Be Our Powers: How Sisterhood, Prayer and Sex changed a Nation at War - Gabrielle Walsh (reviewer)
Books: WHO NEEDS GOD?, by Barbara Stockl with Christoph Cardinal Schönborn - Br Barry Coldrey (reviewer)
Books: THE CRAFT OF CATECHESIS, by P. Wiley, P. de Cointet and B. Morgan - Br Barry Coldrey (reviewer)
Support: 2013 Fighting Fund Progress Report - Peter Westmore
Books: Order books from www.freedompublishing.com.au
Reflection: Bishop Anthony Fisher: Do you want to be a saint? - Bishop Anthony Fisher

WHO NEEDS GOD?
by Barbara Stockl with Christoph Cardinal Schönborn
Ignatius, 2009, 193pp, $29.95, ISBN: 978-1-58617-284-8

Reviewed by Br Barry Coldrey

Christoph Cardinal Schönborn, Archbishop of Vienna, is a towering figure in the European Church. In addition to his extensive pastoral duties, he is the General Editor of the Catechism of the Catholic Church and a prolific writer.

His interviewer, Barbara Stockl, is an Austrian television and radio journalist with significant experience in broadcasting.

Who Needs God? is a book-length exploration of contemporary issues facing the Catholic Church in Austria as well as Western Europe and is the result of a series of interviews with the Cardinal.

The nub of the matter is that throughout Western Europe – once the epicentre of Christian faith and Catholic practice – most Catholics have abandoned their Catholicism since World War II.

In fact, the crux of the new evangelisation launched by Pope John Paul II, is not focused essentially on reaching "pagans" who have never heard of Christianity, but on re-evangelising the Christian and Catholic masses in the Western world who have seen their faith eroded by the dominant secular culture.

Moreover, the new evangelisation attempts to dialogue with those of the active Catholic minority who have abandoned key areas of their faith as they move to a "cafeteria" Christianity according to their shifting tastes, specifically:

• the large numbers of Catholic couples who cohabit from an early age without any thought of marriage;

• the many remarried divorcees, some of whom are Catholics who wish to receive Holy Communion at Mass;

• the increasing reality of same sex partnerships even among some who consider themselves active practising Christians in the Catholic tradition; and

• the public disregarding by some theologians, priests and religious of definitive decisions of the Church's Magisterium such as the question of the ordination of women.

There are many Catholic thinkers and apologists who grapple with these issues, exploring how this situation arose and what to do about the scene in view of Jesus Christ's direction to "Go, teach all nations!" Cardinal Schönborn is one of them.

With Barbara Stockl, the Cardinal explores the social context: the atmosphere of dramatic social upheaval across Western Europe, the frenetic pace of modern urban life, the prevailing climate of individualism, freedom and prosperity as the magic words. Therefore, many wish to live flexibly without commitment. These secular attitudes do not facilitate a confident belief in God, Jesus Christ, the Paschal Mystery or the Church.

Europe is bored with Christianity. Spiritualities are "in", and Christian commitment is at a discount – for the majority.

Cardinal Schönborn and his interviewer raise and discuss many of the current questions: Whom do people allow to be God? Who is their "pilot" through adult life: the personal trainer, the secular psychologist, the investment counsellor? With security in the "Welfare State", who needs God? What can God provide that the "Welfare State" does not?

Who Needs God? is a serious book for the sophisticated reader, whether Christian or searcher after truth.

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Reprinted from AD2000 Vol 26 No 10 (November 2013), p. 16

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