Pope calls western churches a dying breed
Mainstream churches in the West appear to be dying as societies that are increasingly secular see less need for God, says Pope Benedict.
The Sydney Morning Herald reports that his outlook was "even glummer" than that of his predecessor John Paul, who lamented at the decline of faith in the developed world and said it explained the Catholic Church's struggle with falling attendance in the West in recent years.
Pope Benedict said many developing countries were, by contrast, enjoying a "a springtime for faith".
"It is different in the Western world, a world which is tired of its own culture, a world which is at the point where there's no longer evidence for a need of God, even less of Christ," he told a meeting of clergy in the Italian Alps where he is on holiday.
"The so-called traditional churches look like they are dying," he said, according to a text published by the Vatican daily L'Osservatore Romano.
Participation at Sunday Mass in some developed countries was as low as 5 per cent, a recent Vatican report said.
A combination of an increasingly secular mentality and the lure of more simplistic sects was challenging the relevance of the church, especially in Europe, Australia and, to a lesser extent, the United States, the 78-year-old Pope said.
"The Catholic Church is not doing as badly as the big Protestant Churches but naturally it shares the problem of this moment in history."
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29 Jul 2005