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[Foreword to Emmanuel Cardinal Suhard, Growth or Decline: The Church Today, translated by James Corbet (South Bend: Indiana), i–iii". ]


It is rare indeed that a Pastoral Letter written to a particular diocese should become a document of international interest to the whole Catholic world. But this has happened in the case of the Pastoral which His Eminence, the Cardinal Archbishop of Paris, addressed to his archdiocese last February.

The reason is illuminating. It is a commonplace that the world today is in a state of crisis — a crisis that effects not only the temporal destinies of human society but also the destiny of the Church herself. It is equally a commonplace that the crisis is world wide. But what is less commonly insisted on is the fact that the crisis is fundamentally the same the world over. This is a unique historical fact. It is a testimony to the new oneness of the world. It is also a challenge to the Church to assert in a new way her own unity and catholicity, in grappling with the issues presented to her in substantially the same form, under all accidental differences, in every nation of the earth.

Given this premise, Cardinal Suhard's Pastoral Letter could not fail to be of international interest. For it is a singularly powerful analysis of the deepest meaning of today's crisis, a singularly profound statement of the Church's contemporary mission, and a singularly practical summation of the concrete directions and forms that today's apostolate must take.