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  • » 06/19/2012, 00.00

    VATICAN

    Synod: evangelisation, a duty today against the effective expulsion of the question of God



    The working document for the coming Synod of Bishops was made public today. Its focus is on the new evangelisation and new challenges: cultural (secularisation), migration, economic, political, scientific and technological. As Paul VI correctly pointed out, "Modern man listens more willingly to witnesses than to teachers, and if he does listen to teachers, it is because they are witnesses."

    Vatican City (AsiaNews) - In a world of widespread nihilism, secularisation, "unproductive, hedonistic and consumer mentality, which leads to a highly superficial manner in facing life and responsibility," we see the elimination of "the question of God from a person's examination of self. To respond to religious needs, persons revert to individualistic forms of spirituality or forms of neo-paganism to the point of forcibly spreading a general climate of relativism."

    Against this background, the Church feels the need to present again in a manner appropriate for the times, the unchangeable Good News.  'The New Evangelization for the Transmission of Christian Faith' will be at the centre of the 13th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops scheduled for 7-28 October in the Vatican. Its working paper, the Instrumentum laboris, was presented today.

    The document is a summary of the responses to the questions in the Lineamenta published on 2 February 2011, which were submitted by the 13 synods of bishops from the Eastern Catholic Churches sui iuris, 114 Episcopal conferences, and 24 departments of the Roman Curia and the Union of Superiors General.

    Mgr Nikola Eterovic, secretary general of the Synod of Bishops, described the picture that emerges. Mgr Fortunato Frezza, under-secretary of the same department, said that the image that emerges is one in which the Church that is asking questions about the current situation. Hence, the "New evangelisation is an expression of the internal dynamism of Christianity, which wishes to make men and women of good will know the 'depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge' (Rm, 11:33) of the mystery of God revealed in Jesus Christ; it is not a weary response to the crisis of faith and the challenges facing the Church in the modern world." In fact, "Many of the responses stressed the importance of the means of communication, especially media and digital culture in spreading the Good News."

    The document is articulated in four chapters: 1) Jesus Christ, the Gospel of God for man, 2) the time of the new evangelisation, 3) the transmission of faith, and 4) the renewal of pastoral activities. The starting point is the fact that evangelisation is not a choice for the Church but "a duty". The Church "exists in order to evangelize."

    Yet, the proclamation of the Gospel, always the same, faces new "social circumstances", Mgr Eterovic noted, for the Church is called to provide adequate responses to transmit the hope it carries. "New challenges to evangelisation in the contemporary world are described in various different scenarios, whether cultural (secularisation), migration, economic, political scientific and technological."

    The document highlights "the phenomenon of the great migration," which causes "a meeting and mixing of cultures." It also focuses on political and economic issues, like "the inequality it causes within and among nations."

    "The emergence on the world stage of new economic, political and religious actors from the Islamic and Asian worlds has created an entirely new and unknown situation, rich in potential, but fraught with dangers and new temptations for dominion and power."

    "In this regard," the document says, "they recount a weakening in the faith of believers, a lack of personal involvement and experience in the transmission of the faith and insufficient spiritual guidance for the faithful in the process of their formative, intellectual and professional training. Many lament the excessive bureaucratic character of ecclesiastical structures, perceived as far removed from the average person and his everyday concerns." [. . .] "Some responses complained of the excessively formal character of liturgical celebrations, an almost routine celebration of rituals [. . .] Despite the counter-witness of some of the Church's members (unfaithfulness in one's vocation, scandals, little sensitivity to the problems of everyday people and the world today."

    Against this background, we must distinguish between new evangelisation from evangelisation in its wider sense. "The Church's constant action must be renewed and made more dynamic even our times. Emphasis must be place also placed on the importance of missionary activity ad gentes, the duty to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ to those who do not know him. The same is true for the new evangelisation for those who are not sufficiently evangelised and those who left the Church and religious life."

    The "task of proclaiming and handing on the faith" is "incumbent on every Christian," Instrumentum laboris says. The latter must reawaken his "baptismal identity;" especially if they lead a consecrated or contemplative life in groups and movements. Everyone must "render an account for one's faith" to anyone who asks.

    In this broad commitment, parishes must play a special role. In Mgr Eterovic's words, the parish "must become a centre of missionary irradiation and bear witness to the Christian experience in order to welcome people with spiritual and material needs. It is the responsibility of all the members of the People of God to make that happen, especially if they are priests."

    In addition to concrete suggestions in matters like sacramental and youth training, "if the Church is to evangelize, she needs to not only renew her programmes, but also increase the calibre of her testimony." As Paul VI correctly pointed out, "Modern man listens more willingly to witnesses than to teachers, and if he does listen to teachers, it is because they are witnesses."

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    See also

    26/10/2008 VATICAN
    Eastern Christians, victims of intolerance and cruel violence, says Pope
    Benedict XVI launches a fresh appeal on behalf of the Church in Iraq and India so that Christians can be guaranteed, not privileges, but the dignity of living in and working for their own country. He calls upon civilian authorities “to spare no effort” to uphold the law, and calls on religious authorities to take “explicit” steps of friendship towards Christians. He mentions his upcoming plans for Africa in 2009. He mentions a Franciscan missionary, martyred in China.

    04/03/2011 VATICAN
    Towards the synod: the mission to proclaim the Gospel to today's world
    Lineamenta of the assembly of bishops to be held next year presented. A necessarily missionary church in the face of challenges posed by secularization, globalization, economic crisis, the decline of ideologies.

    05/05/2007 INDIA
    Arcbishop of Mumbai: “The Word of God, fulcrum of our mission”
    Archbishop Oswald Gracias, president of the Indian Conference and spiritual leader of the Mumbai Archdiocese speaks to AsiaNews about the Lineamenta published ahead of the synod of bishops on the Word of God in the life and mission of the Church. All through 2008 the archdiocese’s pastoral work will be dedicated to the Word.

    18/10/2005 VATICAN – SYNOD ON THE EUCHARIST
    Pope to write letter to Chinese bishops invited to Synod
    Pope will personally answer the letter send by Mgr Luke Li Jingfeng to express his regrets for not being able to come to the Synod. Mgr Kondrusiewicz, Bishop of Moscow, speaks about the situation of Russian Catholics, expressing hope Pope Benedict XVI and Patriarch Aleksij II can meet each other.

    05/10/2012 VATICAN
    Synod: More "Fathers" than ever before for the new evangelization
    Participants represent the Catholic universe: 103 are from Europe, 63 from America, 50 from Africa, 39 from Asia and 7 Oceania. The majority of the Synod Fathers, 182, were elected, 172 by the Episcopal conferences and 10 by the Union of Superiors General, 3 have been designated by the Eastern Catholic Churches sui juris, 37 ex officio members, 40 are appointed by the Pope. The numbers , presented today by Msgr. Nikola Eterovic Secretary General of the Synod of Bishops, indicate importance that the Church gives to the next Synodal assembly, to be held at the Vatican October 7 to 28, 2012. There will also be 15 representatives of churches and ecclesial communities not yet in full communion with the Catholic Church, including the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I and the primate of the Anglican Communion, Rowan Douglas Williams.



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