The Church is under attack as never before in recent times - in some ways the attack is less severe than the French Revolution, the Protestant Revolt or the Arian Crisis, in some ways worse, but it's not a competition. The next Pope, like the last two popes, has everything to do just to make the Church function properly internally, let alone to address her external opponents in an effective way.
We laity can - must - pull our weight both spiritually and non-spiritually; by the latter I mean intellectually, culturally, by way of example and so on.
The Confraternity of St Gregory I have been talking about on this blog is designed primarily to address the spiritual side of things. It will unite members in prayer, wherever they are, and give them opportunities for mutual moral support. Isolation is going to be an increasing burden as the general culture of our society becomes less tolerant. The Confraternity will help us have the courage to live counter-culturally, even if we don't inhabit a traditionalist hot-spot where all our friends have ten children.
|Benediction last night in Oxford, beginning at the very moment of the end of Pope Benedict's pontificate|
The intellectual side is something which needs to be addressed. Everyone has the obligation to know the Faith, and to know it in a way, and to a depth, appropriate to his education and abilities, and the circles he moves in. No one can opt out here. The least gifted Catholic may be the only person who can reach particular people who need to hear something direct and from the heart. The most subtle person shouldn't imagine he can finesse his way out of every dinner party conversation, without letting on what the Church actually teaches.
I've been meaning for a while to put a sort of reading list on the LMS website, obviously it is a big project if the books are going have a useful description. The best books about the crisis in the Church are among the most neglected. It is important to understand the Faith in its fullness, not some watered-down version, and also the reasons why people want to water it down. In an attempt to make the Church acceptable to the World many people have implicitly accepted principles which make even what they want to defend indefensible. For an example, on marriage, see the last paragraph of this post. This has got to stop: the world is going to hate us anyway, we need to start making some progress in explaining ourselves in a way which makes sense.