The brief twenty-year period that separates us from the conclusion of the Council has brought with it accelerated changes in history. In this sense, the signs of our times do not exactly coincide, in some points, with those of the time of the Council. From among these, special attention must be paid to the Phenomenon of secularism. Without any doubt the Council has affirmed the legitimate autonomy of temporal realities (cf. GS 36 and elsewhere). In this sense, a correctly understood secularization must be admitted. But we are speaking of something totally different from the secularism that consists of an autonomist vision of man and the world, one which leaves aside the dimension of mystery, indeed neglects and denies it. This immanentism is a reduction of the integral Vision of man, a reduction which leads not to his true liberation but to a new idolatry, to the slavery of ideologies, to life in reductive and often oppressive structures of this world.
Despite secularism, signs of a return to the sacred also exist. Today in fact, there are signs of a new hunger and thirst for the transcendent and divine. In order to favor this return to the sacred and to overcome secularism we must open the way to the dimension of the “divine” or of mystery and offer the preambles of faith to mankind today. Because, as the Council affirms, man is a question to himself and only God can give him the full and ultimate answer (cf. GS 21) Does not the spread of sects perhaps lead us to ask whether we have sometimes failed to sufficiently manifest the sense of the sacred?