Appeared in Spring 1990, Vol. XVI, No. 1

It is important for all of us to try to read the signs of the times. All of the modern Popes, starting with Leo XIII down to Pope John Paul II, have spoken out against one of the great evils affecting Western Christian civilization: the evil of secularism. Our contemporary age is characterized by an increasingly hostile secularism which seems to banish God from the public arena and even from the minds of men, if such a thing were possible. All of us must live in contemporary society. We must breathe in this miasma of secularity. The Church also lives in the world. Members of the Church are not immune from this mental aberration. As we all know, many things have happened to the Church that we love, particularly in the last 25 years. There is so much confusion today. Unfortunately, this seems to be the word which characterizes the contemporary Church in so many parts of the world. One of the principal sources of this confusion lies, I believe, in a misreading of a number of conciliar documents, particularly in the area of the equivocal use of the term, the world. What is the world? What does the Council mean when it speaks of the world as it does in so many of its documents? It is precisely in the equivocal use of this particular term, that a host of serious difficulties has entered into the thinking of priests, religious, and the laity.

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