From Vatican Insider:
An all-inclusive interview with Tony Blair in which he discusses the challenges for religion in a globalised world
MARCO BARDAZZI PAOLO MASTROLILLI
According to the Blair Faith Foundation, “though many Enlightenment thinkers assumed that religion and faith were on the wane, to be inevitably replaced by rational, scientific insight, this theory looks increasingly implausible today. Rather than Europe leading the way, it is now clearly the exception to the rule. The world is becoming more religious”. How do you explain this trend?
The point is that though the aspect of religion that sometimes wrongly seems to mirror superstition, is on the decline; the aspect of Faith that is about creating a basis of moral guidance for life, is very much still with us. Moreover, people do not see that basis as coming from humanity alone, but reflecting the will of a Higher Being. Yet the empirical evidence as to how people view Faith today, is hard to come by.We really need accurate qualitatitive and quantitative surveys and they are thin on the ground.
Why is Europe going in the opposite direction of this trend, and how can Europe deal with a world in which religion plays an increasing and sometimes dominant role?
I do not think that all of Europe feels the same on this. Also I believe that, whereas there is alot of disillusion with some parts of established religious organisations, there is still a deep yearning within Europe for spiritual fulfillment. Also I note that despite a lot of negative advance publicity around the Pope’s recent visit to the UK, when he actually arrived, there was a fantastic reception given to him. The vast majority of our contemporary cultures understand the world and think of their problems in a religious idiom. That is why two of my Faith Foundation’s programmes are about developing religious literacy, one in schools and the other in universities. It means both learning respectful language and sensitivity to people of other faiths and having the capacity to analyse two of the major forces in our world today, faith and globalisation in their contemporary interaction. I really believe that statesmen, entrepreneurs, leaders of civil society, civil servants who lack this knowledge and these skills are not equipped for the 21st century whether they are Europeans or not. We need to overcome a blinkered parochialism encouraged by extreme secularism in Europe. It impedes a vital aspect of statecraft.