Third Great Crisis in the Universal Church

The longest crisis in the Church of Antiquity, Arianism, began soon after the last and worst Roman persecution, under Diocletian. Its nature was dogmatic, hence a crisis of faith. Arianism advanced a change in the profession of faith (Credo) over a seemingly intellectual and semantic point, unimportant at first sight, but which was in fact the very foundation of all revealed dogma: the double nature of Jesus Christ, divine and human. The main task of the first ecumenical councils was then to establish Christological dogmas on solid bases, including the dogmatic proclamations about the Blessed Virgin, which also aim to demonstrate that Jesus Christ is true God and true Man.

The Arian heresy, being a fundamental one, will still be felt strongly, although with more subtlety, all along the other two great crises.

The second great crisis is the Protestant Reformation. It was not mainly a dogmatic or intellectual crisis, but above all a crisis of authority. The object was to elevate the conscience, the personal will, against the legitimate authority of the Church. Various other heresies were added, but mostly to justify the revolt, and the Protestant individualism, especially the individual interpretation of Scripture, was the main culprit in the crisis and the tens of thousands of divisions that followed.

The nature of the present crisis is one of morals. The problem was already present in Protestantism, but the Reformers themselves and every sensible person saw from the first generation that the depravity consequent to the individualistic outlook in religion was threatening the whole society. The civil powers and the seriously religious people actively fought this tendency and were able to generally maintain the Western Christian moral standards, thus avoiding chaos. But the imbalance remained pervasive.

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