the terrible irony of this move, as it coincided precisely withincreasingly radical departures from the Christian worldviewthroughout western culture, as the sexual revolution gatheredmomentum, as abortion came to be legalized in more and moresocieties, and as a media-driven materialistic consumerism spreadwidely in the West and elsewhere (see Rowland 2003). With theseand other developments, the already fragile social, cultural and, insome countries, political legitimation and reinforcement of Christian values in the wider society began to unravel. The Churchnow finds herself at odds with many powerful trends in westernculture. What is more, "In the powerful yet soft secularisingtotalitarianism of distinctively modern culture, our greatest enemyi
s...the Church's ‘own internal secularisation' which, when itoccurs, does so through the ‘...largely unconscious' adoption of the ‘ideas and practices' of seemingly ‘benign adversaries'"
(Nichols 2008, 141). There are many signs of this invasion of modern cultural assumptions.The disenchantment of the liturgy is one of the most strikinginstances of this development (see Robinson 2005), and one towhich young people are particularly sensitive (as witnessed bytheir enthusiasm for the 1962 Missal). But there are many other signs of internal secularization: the erosion of belief in theuniqueness of Christ as savior, and of the Church as theindispensable means of salvation; the widespread embrace of contraception by Catholic couples; sexual immorality on the partof priests and religious; the displacement of the missionaryimpulse by social advocacy; the collapse of recognizable religiouslife among many communities of religious women in the U.S.; andso on. In the broadly influential strategy of the hermeneutics of discontinuity and rupture, many of these developments werepromoted as if they had been warranted by the Second VaticanCouncil itself.No one understood these developments more clearly than PopeJohn Paul II, as we saw in his brilliant de-construction of theunderlying premises of what he called the culture of death (notablyin Evangelium Vitae) and in his endeavor to reclaim the legacy of