He began the homily by talking about how man was made for community. He then asked why so many Catholics no longer take part in the community of the Eucharist. He thought that part of the reason was that Western societies have become more individualistic and that traditional communal identities have waned in modern multicultures.
Included in the mass were two prayers, which I wish I could remember verbatim, but they were about preserving cultural and civilisational traditions and how we are links in a chain connecting generations past, present and future.
Whilst on the topic of the Catholic Church, I was interested to read a lecture given by the then Cardinal Ratzinger, later Pope Benedict, to the Italian Senate in 2004. It is about European identity and the crisis of European civilisation. The lecture has faults, I think, but it does at least take seriously the gravity of the situation facing Europe:
At the hour of its greatest success, Europe seems hollow, as if it were internally paralyzed by a failure of its circulatory system that is endangering its life, subjecting it to transplants that erase its identity. At the same time as its sustaining spiritual forces have collapsed, a growing decline in its ethnicity is also taking place.
Europe is infected by a strange lack of desire for the future. Children, our future, are perceived as a threat to the present, as though they were taking something away from our lives. Children are seen—at least by some people—as a liability rather than as a source of hope. Here it is obligatory to compare today's situation with the decline of the Roman Empire. In its final days, Rome still functioned as a great historical framework, but in practice its vital energy had been depleted.
This case illustrates a peculiar Western self-hatred that is nothing short of pathological. It is commendable that the West is trying to be more open, to be more understanding of the values of outsiders, but it has lost all capacity for self-love. All that it sees in its own history is the despicable and the destructive; it is no longer able to perceive what is great and pure. What Europe needs is a new self-acceptance, a self-acceptance that is critical and humble, if it truly wishes to survive.
Multiculturalism, which is so passionately promoted, can sometimes amount to an abandonment and denial, a flight from one's own things.