[The Church] will no longer be able to inhabit many of the edifices she built in prosperity. As the number of her adherents diminishes . . . she will lose many of her social privileges. . . As a small society, [the Church] will make much bigger demands on the initiative of her individual members.
If you think today's downturn seems pessimistic, how did the future look to the first Christians under the persecution that followed the death of Christ?
"And so it seems certain to me," Benedict went on,
that the Church is facing very hard times. The real crisis has scarcely begun. . . . But I am equally certain about what will remain at the end: not the Church of the political cult, which is dead already, but the Church of faith. . . . [S]he will enjoy a fresh blossoming and be seen as man's home, where he will find life and hope beyond death.