Pope Benedict’s Five Goals for the New Evangelization 1

You Cannot Believe and Remain Silent.

One of those annoying experiences in life is when a friend tells you they saw someone you wanted to meet, but forgot to let you know so that you weren’t able to see that person.

A few years ago a friend of mine got really angry at me because one day I met an mutual friend of ours we hadn’t seen in a long time and I didn’t mention anything to him. All he kept repeating was: “Why didn’t you tell me.”

In my years of priestly experience I have found a number of persons who, only of late, had come to understand their faith more deeply and they usually say, “I wish someone had told me before. My life, at least from the religious perspective, would have been much different.”

It’s not right to keep useful information to yourself. It’s not right to hold back advice from someone who needs it. It’s not right to keep something that can make others truly happy, away from them. St. Andrew understood this when, after encountering Jesus Christ, he couldn’t wait to tell his brother Peter. St. Paul understood this when he said, “Woe to me if I do not proclaim the Gospel.” That is, “Woe to me, if, after having experienced Christ and his saving message so deeply, I do not share it with others.”

Back in December 12, 2000, then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger speaking to Catechists and Religion Teachers stressed the fact of :

A progressive process of de-Christianization and the loss of essential human values, which is worrisome. A large part of today’s humanity does not find the Gospel in the permanent evangelization of the Church: That is to say, the convincing response to the question: How to live?

In other words, for some, the Church has stopped telling what they need to hear.

Therefore, the need for a New Evangelization.

As Fr Emiliano Tardif, a tireless and holy Retreat Master, once put it: “The evangelizer is not he who merely speaks about Jesus, but he who makes Jesus present and alive to those he is evangelizing.” Evangelizing, therefore is not merely a way of speaking, but a form of living. In short, it’s not about us, it’s about Christ.

The Lineamenta for the upcoming Synod on the New Evangelization states it clearly:

The center of proclamation is Jesus Christ who is believed and to whom a person bears witness. Transmitting the faith essentially means to transmit the Scriptures, primarily the Gospel, which give a person the opportunity of knowing Jesus, the Lord.

And Pope Benedict highlights the essence of Evangelization in his Apostolic letter Ubicumque et Semper:

At the root of all evangelization lies not a human plan of expansion, but rather the desire to share the inestimable gift that God has wished to give us, making us sharers in his own life.

Only in this context should we interpret St. Augustine’s words that form the title of this article. Believing in Christ implies giving him to others. Because of the urgency of this task we should make St. Paul’s deep lived experience our own: “I have been loved by God encountering Christ. To not give him to others is to not value the gift given to me.”

The New Evangelization is certainly a priority for Pope Benedict. On September 12, 2010 he established a new Vatican Office, the Pontifical Council for promoting the New Evangelization, with the following 5 goals:

  1. To examine in depth the theological and pastoral meaning of the new evangelization
  2. To promote and to foster the study, dissemination, and implementation of the Papal Magisterium related to topics connected with the new evangelization
  3. To make known and to support initiatives linked to the new evangelization that are already being put into practice, and to promote the realization of new projects
  4. To study and to encourage the use of modern forms of communication as instruments for the new evangelization
  5. To promote the use of the Catechism of the Catholic Church as an essential and complete formulation of the content of the faith for the people of our time

The Guidelines used to prepare the upcoming Synod of Bishops on “The New Evangelization for the Transmission of the Christian Faith” were published on February 2, 2011. And on October 11, 2011 Pope Benedict published an Apostolic letter titled Porta Fidei, The Door of Faith, announcing a Year of Faith (October 11, 2012 – November 24, 2013).

No time to read these Vatican documents? The scope of the upcoming articles is to reflect on the essential content of these documents.

Ubi Petrus, ibi Ecclesia (where Peter is, the Church is). As committed Catholics we will surely want to follow the signs of the times and renew the awareness of our Catholic identity that is missionary by nature.

Fr Jose LaBoy, LC

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