Father Longenecker has has observed a contemporary phenomenon which presents a target-rich environment for the New Evangelization--Moralistic Therapeutic Deism:
“MTD” is deadly because it eventually kills off true religion. Because “MTD” mimics true religion people think it is true religion, but then they draw the obvious conclusion: if religion is only about therapy and making the world a better place, then why do you need God? If the Deist God is sitting on the other side of a cloud doing nothing then why bother going to church to worship him?The reason why the Catholic faith is shutting down in so much of Europe and North America is because millions of Catholics are infected with “MTD.” They have had no direct experience of the living God in their lives and believe he is an old grandfather who resides in heaven never being involved in this world. They have assumed that religion is no more than just another self help method and that being a Christian simply means being a nice person. Then have then drawn the conclusion that they can be a good person and make the world a better place without sacraments, canon law, liturgy, prayer, devotions, and the discipline of going to church.
How is it that this present crisis of faith has come about? After teaching for 36 years in the Catholic Church, (CCD, Higher and Secondary Ed., and RCIA), I decided to write about why the answer to this question was given by none other than Pope Paul VI. At the close of Vatican II, Pope Paul VI remarked that Christianity, the religion of God-Incarnate, had encountered the religion of Man-made-God. He was of the opinion that much of the Council was given over to demonstrating the compatibility of Enlightenment belief with Catholicism. On June 29, 1972, Paul delivered another assessment of the state of the Roman Catholic Church since the close of Vatican II. The Holy Father told a congregation:
We have the impression that through some cracks in the wall the smoke of Satan has entered the temple of God: it is doubt, uncertainty, questioning, dissatisfaction, confrontation. And how did this come about? We will confide to you the thought that may be, we ourselves admit in free discussion, that may be unfounded, and that is that there has been a power, an adversary power. Let us call him by his name: the devil. We thought that after the Council a day of sunshine would have dawned for the history of the Church. What dawned instead was a day of clouds and storms, of darkness, of searching and uncertainties.
His fears of demonic penetration of the Church were even stronger in a later statement:
The opening to the world [aggiornamento or “updating”] became a veritable invasion of the Church by worldly thinking....We have perhaps been too weak and imprudent.
As a Council Father, Cardinal (soon to be Pope) Montini was clearly in the so-called “progressive" cabal of Council Fathers, who wished to throw open the windows of the Church to let in what the modern world had to offer. That the Holy Spirit came to the Vicar of Christ and led him to the truth of what was happening in the Mystical Body of Christ I have no doubt, which is why I wrote my book, which I think goes a long way to answering why it is that Catholics have been, as Father says, “infected with MTD.” More: