Does the Church have a future? What is the Church’s relationship with the passage of time, that is, to its history? The risk of going astray in answering these questions is very high. We can either fall into a merely sociological view, or make a purely abstract theological analysis, that is, embrace the ideology of the “youthfulness” of the Church with her “magnificent good fortune and progress” in times of crisis.
“Ideology,” Pope Francis once warned, “is not a good option. In ideologies there is no Jesus. Jesus is tenderness, love, meekness; ideologies, of every hue, are always rigid.” Ideology is rigid, even that dependent on perpetual youth. Some people think that our world is ceasing to be Christian; how then can we talk about the youthfulness of the Church? Her insignificance seems to be the problem, yet we talk about the future.
We seem to be caught up in an endless debate between traditionalism and modernization. Certainly, one of the serious problems of the Church today is what the pope, using a neologism, has repeatedly called “indietrism,” that is, to be backward-looking. He calls it a “fashion” that does not “draw people from the roots to move forward,” but to opt for “an indietrism that turns us into a sect; it leaves you ‘closed’ and cuts off your horizons; it puts you in charge of dead traditions.” The real question is: If the gospel were not proclaimed, would something essential to human life be missing?