Europe, once the very soul of Christendom, has become largely atheist, but the Church has not given up on her, nor will she ever, as this story from Chiesa reports.
“ROME, September 21, 2011 – "Where God is, there is the future": this is the title that Benedict XVI wanted to give to his third visit to Germany, which begins tomorrow.
“Pope Benedict has stated repeatedly that the "priority" of this pontificate is to bring men closer to God. But the case of Germany makes this urgency of his all the more compelling.
“The former East Germany, together with Estonia and the Czech Republic, is the area of Europe where atheists are most numerous, and the non-baptized are in the majority…
“A book was recently released in Germany, published by GerthMedien, that analyzes the decline of Christianity in this country in very straightforward terms….
“The theater of the report is Chemnitz, formerly Karl-Marx-Stadt, one of the cities most barren of faith in the already vastly dechristianized former East Germany.
“The protagonists of the renewed evangelization are a few families of Neocatechumenal Catholics, who have gone there as missionaries from other European countries.
“ON MISSION IN THE DEPTHS OF THE EAST
by Marina Corradi
“Outside the sun is still high in the sky, in summertime, but at eight o'clock in the evening the streets are already semi-deserted. We are in Chemnitz, at 29 Theater Strasse, in an old building that has just been remodeled and still smells like fresh plaster. What strikes you the most about the Neocatechumenal families, when you see them together as they are this evening, is the children: six couples, each with nine or twelve or even fourteen kids. There are about seventy of them in all, teenagers or recently married. And you look at their faces, at their twinkling eyes, and think: how amazing, and what richness we have lost, we Europeans with just the one child, while from the room next door comes the demanding cry of one of the first grandchildren.
“It is moving, the little crowd of young Christians this evening in Chemnitz, formerly Karl-Marx-Stadt. Because in this corner of the former German Democratic Republic, civilization was born, in the year 1136, from a handful of Benedictine monks who founded an abbey, bringing in their wake Christian families who lived around the convent and cleared the forests for farmland, and those families also had about a dozen children apiece.
“Can the story begin again, when it seems finished? You ask yourself this in this silent and spent city, where one out of every four inhabitants is elderly, and the only children of broken families are alone. Here the people turn around and look if a Neocatechumenal family goes out with even half of its children. And if a classmate happens to come over for lunch, he takes a picture of the crowded table with his cellphone, in disbelief.”