In a reflection written toward the end of the great confinement, which the Covid-19 pandemic forced on the entire world, Czech Catholic thinker Tomáš Halík identified the closed and empty churches as a prophetic warning sign about what the Church might become: closed and deserted. It is a warning sign, because it foreshadows what the permanent condition of the Church will be in the near future – in some places in Europe it is already a reality – if the challenges of the emerging new era, that change of times that is underway and to which Pope Francis has referred to as more than just an ordinary time of change, are not taken seriously.
Although rhythms and modalities might vary from place to place in the world, it would seem that it is this underlying tendency, toward a closed and empty condition that awaits the Church if it fails to confront such challenges on both an intellectual and an operational level. If, in other words, it fails to impress a profound transformation not only on ecclesial structures, but also on the existential and spiritual dimension of faith.
It is a prophetic warning sign, because the drama constituted by the loss of people, relevance and credibility, as well as the crisis generated by the emptiness of spaces and rituals, practices and concepts, today presents itself as an opportune time to establish important processes of true spiritual conversion and profound ecclesial reform.