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[Theological modernism] was little more than the result of a rather puerile desire of Christians, especially clergymen and theologians, to avoid being counter-cultural, to retain the same status and “relevance” in a secular age as had been accorded them in a Catholic age. Therefore, by the mid-20th century, Modernism had become the quasi-spiritual and theological doorway through which a profound secularization entered into the Church, as Catholics at every level embraced the opportunity to reinterpret their faith and values in ways which made them more compatible with the larger surrounding culture—a culture which was no longer shaped in any significant way by the Faith.
The result was a rapid shift in Catholic sensibilities, beginning with a rejection of authority in favor of the zeitgeist (spirit of the times or cultural spirit). Where in 1930 parishioners would likely have been shocked if their priest undermined or contradicted a clear statement of the Holy See, in 1980 parishioners could very easily be moved to applaud the courage and vision such a contradiction seemed to them to embody. This broad infection of secularization in the Church led to countless abuses in preaching, in the liturgy, in catechetics, in theology classes, and even in social action and politics. In fact, as both the attitude of relativism and the power of the State grew during the same period, Catholics began to see things more and more in merely political terms. Every disagreement was understood to be essentially a partisan struggle.
In some universities and religious communities, these attitudes continue unabated even now that dioceses and parishes have begun to heal. Efforts by the Holy See to correct the wayward are a perfect example. The Holy See inevitably speaks in terms of the objective and absolute truths Divinely revealed through Jesus Christ, and the Holy See is inevitably dismissed as a bunch of old, celibate, white European males making a power grab for a party whose relevance has long since vanished from the world stage.
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