The Vatican Kneels Before Mammon, With COVID as its Excuse
Institutionalized Christianity’s future in a post-modern world will be on display in Europe this month. That future isn’t pretty.
Starting Thursday, the Vatican will hold a three-day virtual conference on health care, with a special emphasis on COVID-19. Then on May 27 in Berlin, contractors will lay the cornerstone for the House of One. That structure will be the world’s first to allow Christians, Jews and Muslims to worship under one roof at the same time.
The conference and the worship center symbolize a distressing fact. The institutionalized church’s relationship to secular values has moved beyond accommodation to capitulation. In Catholic philosopher Jacques Maritain’s phrase, the church is “kneeling before the world.”
But what are those secular values? Diversity and inclusion for their own sakes. The commitment to constant dialogue, regardless of results. A materialist humanism that discounts spiritual needs and questions.
Catholic in Name Only
The Vatican conference’s title is revealing: “Exploring the Mind, Body and Soul: How Innovations and Novel Delivery Systems Improve Health.” The conference doesn’t draw upon Catholicism’s rich history of moral thought and medical outreach to offer a Catholic perspective. Instead, the speakers and seminars reflect contemporary Catholicism’s embrace of the secular.
For example, Chelsea Clinton, vice chair of the Clinton Foundation, will participate in a panel on “Building a More Equitable Health Care System For All.” Apparently, Clinton’s outspoken support for Roe v. Wade doesn’t disqualify her from appearing.
COVID-19 plays a prominent role. Dr. Anthony Fauci will deliver opening remarks. Collins has encouraged “faith communities to trust the science to fight the disease,” states the conference’s program. Seminars address comprehensive solutions, including the experimental mRNA vaccine therapy that ravages recipients worldwide. Moderna’s CEO, Stephane Bancel, will speak on how to “apply this next-generation technology to a range of diseases.”
Not surprisingly, Moderna provided substantial funding for the conference. Also not surprisingly, no seminar addresses cheaper, safer or more reliable treatments for COVID-19, such as hydroxychloroquine or ivermectin.
Flattering the Oligarchs
In addressing health, the conference serves Pope Francis’ environmentalist, globalist agenda. Among its goals, the conference seeks to “promote a culture of collaboration by stimulating an open dialogue.” That includes “a new dialogue about how we are shaping the future of our planet … which includes everyone, since the environmental challenge we are undergoing, and its human roots, concern and affect us all.”
That last quote comes directly from Francis’ environmental encyclical, Laudato Si.
Perhaps nothing reveals the conference’s intent better than the seminar, “Creating A Better World for All Stakeholders.” The speaker, Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff, is known for his “initiatives to create a sustainable, low-carbon future for all” and will discuss “how businesses can drive sustainable financial performance while equitably serving the needs of all stakeholders.”
As Americans know all too well, “equity” and “sustainability” rank among the most fashionable concepts in “woke” ideology.
House of Nothing
The House of One, Berlin’s new worship center, will provide its own form of cultural accommodation. Scheduled to open in 2025, it will feature separate sanctuaries for Christians, Jews and Muslims. Those sanctuaries will surround a central hall that will provide “a place of encounter, much like an urban square surrounded by different buildings,” states the architectural firm Kuehn Malvezzi.
The center will be built in the former East Berlin on a site where churches had stood since the 13th century. Residents called the area “Petriplatz” after the churches’ namesake, St. Peter. In 1964, Communist authorities demolished the last church on the site, a war-ravaged building. But between 2007 and 2009, excavators discovered the ruined foundations of all the churches.
At first, residents wanted to rebuild.
“But we wanted to create a new kind of sacred building that mirrors Berlin today,” German theologian Roland Stolte said. “The initiators are acting as placeholders. This is not a club for monotheistic religions. We want others to join us.”
Those others include people with no religious affiliation.
“East Berlin is a very secular place,” said Stolte, chairman of the project’s board. “Religious institutions have to find new language and ways to be relevant, and to make connections.”
If architecture is language without words, then the House of One’s boxy, modernist design says “utilitarian” and “sterile,” not “transcendent” or “inspirational.” In trying to accommodate all three faiths, it reflects none of them.
What Price Relevance?
However, the House of One accommodates and reflects the secular view that religion prevents human progress. The project encourages worshipping diversity, inclusion and multiculturalism, not Yahweh, Jesus or Allah.
That idea also provides the underlying message behind the Vatican’s conference this week. Progress can take place only by focusing on human philosophies devoid of divine vision.
If institutionalized Christianity must find new ways to be relevant, how can it be relevant by denying its basic identity? If being relevant means making connections, what kinds of connections are being made and where will they lead?
If being relevant means complying with prevailing mindsets, then who needs institutionalized Christianity?
Not for nothing is the House of One being built in the former East Berlin, where Communists once sought to wean the masses off “the opiate of the people,” as Marx called religion.
As institutionalized Christianity sacrifices its integrity for approval, surviving Communists must wonder if they succeeded beyond even their wildest dreams.
Joseph D’Hippolito has written commentaries for such outlets as the Jerusalem Post, the American Thinker and Front Page Magazine. He works as a free-lance writer.