The final document voted on at the Second Vatican Council was the pastoral constitution on “The Church in the Modern World.” That was in 1965. Then came 1968, a year of violent social unrest in many parts of the world. And so, in the 1970s, people began to speak of the “postmodern” world. And here we had just gotten used to the modern one! I would like to share some thoughts with you on living our Catholic faith in the postmodern world.
To gain an understanding of postmodernism, we must begin with the modernism of which it is “post.” I would describe “the modern world” as an approach to understanding, emerging from the Enlightenment, which rejects the ideas of revelation and divine authority, and maintains that only reason and science can provide reliable, objective information about the world. Religion is seen by some proponents of modernism as the inveterate foe of science, a personal, subjective attachment that might provide solace for those who profess faith, but which possesses no objective reality. Thoughtful Catholic authors, past and present, have ably demonstrated that the purported contradictions between faith and reason, or between religion and science, can be maintained only at the cost of incredible ignorance; but that is a price some are willing to pay to banish religious discourse to the margins of society.