2008 | 17 | 229-246
Article title

Sekularyzacja w perspektywie teologii

Title variants
Secularism from theological standpoint
Secularization from theological perspective
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As opposed to sacralisation meant to be an exclusion from the wordly life, the Second Vatican Council has juxtaposed secularisation with the process of sanctification, which restores God to His due place and acknowledges Him to be the ultimate goal of all things, without questioning the legitimacy of earthly reality. In discussing the rightfulness of human earthly affairs relating to social life, science (Vatican II’s Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the World of Today, §36), political sphere (KDK Vatican II’s Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the World of Today, §76) and culture (Vatican II’s Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the World of Today, §56), the documents of the Second Vatican Council, at the same time, explicitly define their legitimate boundaries. The autonomy of earthly matters experienced by man is not absolute. Vatican II also warns against false understanding of autonomy, whereby all spheres of human life are deprived of any sacred dimension by reference to God’s laws (Vatican II’s Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the World of Today, §41). Sacred dimension in human life is the warranty and safeguard of autonomy and human dignity. However, the profane may not be replaced with the sacred. Each totalitarian system is a direct or indirect assault upon human freedom. Nevertheless, many theologians underline that the description of the relationship between faith and culture analysed in Gaudium et Spes was over-optimistic and that at the time of its release no one could predict the negative trends that came to light following its promulgation (D. v. Hildebrandt, J. Maritain). Therefore, it comes as no surprise that John Paul II frequently referred in his speeches and writings to the secularised world and the spreading of non-belief and religious indifference. In the opinion of the Pope, the countries subordinate to the influences of secularisation are susceptible to the ideology of secularism: “At the root of this disturbing development is the attempt to promote a vision of humanity without God. It exaggerates individualism, sunders the essential link between freedom and truth, and corrodes the relationships of trust which characterise genuine social living”. When asserting that the process of transmitting faith and Christian values has ceased to exist, the Pope emphasizes that: „At the same time we perceive the search of meaning by our contemporaries, witnessed by through cultural phenomena, especially in the new religious movements with the strong presence in South America, Africa and Asia: the desire of men and women to understand the deep meaning of their lives, to respond to fundamental questions on the origin and the end of life and to journey towards happiness to which they aspire.” What is the actual position of the Church at this historical time when secularisation and pluralistic outlook on life are widespread ? According to the author, being to some degree the product of Christianity, secularization does not need to be seen as destructive force meant to destroy the Christian faith. By affording freedom from the naive forms of religion deemed to be based on magical spirit, secularisation allows one to formulate anew and in a more profound manner the question about God. Beside, it has already contributed to the creation of human space of religious freedom and spiritual pursuit. Secularization has neither rendered the questions about ultimate meaning of human existence obsolete nor has undermined their gravity and relevance. People may still for look the answers within the frameworks of traditional Churches which, in actuality, have become the enclaves of religious freedom in a secularized and pluralistic society. It seems that it is necessary to acknowledge that the essential traits of the culture of 21st century also include secularization and pluralism. Any further efforts towards the future shape of religion shall be based on the acceptance of these basic features of culture as it stands at the close of the 20th century. It is in the pluralistic society of the future where Christian Churches may play an important role, providing that they manage to become the signs of unity between the people and the nations. On the other hand, the secularized global society is also stricken with negative phenomena such as basic inequalities, political and moral crises, moral emptiness, lack of principles justifying the observance of values by all. At this point all the more evident becomes the need for the teachings of the Church to provide ethical foundation for the life of individuals and societies.
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