While as a society we are undeniably moving away from traditional organised religion (with the latest statistics showing that only 60% say that religion is important to them), we are far from free from beliefs in mythologies and gods. If you simply look at our skylines, at our schedules, at our social media posts, you quickly realise that as a society we are not necessarily better off now that we worship gods like success, consumption, and wealth. Sadly, we are still far from living in an ideal society: inequality is growing, loneliness affects over half the population, and we frequently talk about a quality of life that is worsening, not to mention the impending natural disasters that we continue to bring on ourselves.
As a non-believer and chair of Humanists Malta, I dream of a society that is more compassionate, more reflective, more mature. In other words, a society which truly questions all her gods, not just those which become unfashionable or are convenient to question or ignore.
In this sense, I believe that there is a lot of common ground with a Church that is invested in supporting humanity to become freer (in the full sense of the word) from the powers of the day – be they structural powers, or simply cultural constructs which we live by unquestioningly.
moving away from the focus on dogma and encouraging society to ask the right questions about its idols, while supporting the individuals’ journeys towards personal freedom can increase the relevance of the Church in our times.”
I think that moving away from the focus on dogma and encouraging society to ask the right questions about its idols, while supporting the individuals’ journeys towards personal freedom can increase the relevance of the Church in our times. This seems to me to be Pope Francis’ vision of the Church and to some extent also the local one.
It is therefore a breath of fresh air to read statements by the Justice and Peace Commission, Environment Commission, and to learn of initiatives like Yahad which creatively but in no unclear terms serve to voice unpopular concerns.
Of course, these are not the only voices that are heard, and the Church does well (and perhaps could do more) to distance itself from far-right sentiments and extremist Christian communities which border on the abusive. It also needs to care more seriously for its men on the ground – i.e., its priests – who are frequently left alone dealing with inhuman loads of work with potentially tragic consequences.
Generally speaking, it is a pleasure to notice that the Church is becoming more open to input from “outsiders” (as is this article) and to collaborate on projects of a more secular nature – “those who are not against us are with us” rather than the opposite.
Ultimately, living authentically – whether as a Christian or as a non-believer (or as a member of any other religion) – doesn’t seem so different to me. It always involves a journey towards that which is unknown, an encounter with that which we find uncomfortable, and a solid commitment to remain loyal to our inner compass.