The secular world is a culture whose hypercriticism, especially with regard to the Church, reveals its nostalgia for something great and pure that is indissolubly linked to the heart of the human person. This is a consideration recently developed by Cardinal Archbishop Christoph Schönborn of Vienna further to some reflections by Benedict XVI.
For Christians, the observation is not new. But it remains true even in these secular times. It refers not only to nostalgia for what the Church teaches, which often seems to have fallen into a state of neglect, but also to all that is needed so people can respect the consciences of others and peacefully coexist. These are the values that are the basis of the common work. Either they are supported by the religion of freedom, as per Benedetto Croce, or they are enlightened by the high reason of the Christian religion, as per Arturo Jemolo. In the construction of common goals and, better, in the solution of concrete problems, the contributions of secular thought and of the religious dimension can enrich each other’s beliefs and lead to the comparison of values from different origins converging on a common goal.
If there is nostalgia for values then there is a crisis of values, and certainly on the cultural level this goes back to a primary cause: the loss of the religious dimension in people’s lives. Max Weber’s analysis of the phenomenon is still valid and is behind the current formulas of “disenchantment with the world,” “exhaustion of the kingdom of the invisible,” “secularization,” etc.