Archive for October, 2012

Pope Benedictus XVI

Pope Benedictus XVI (Photo credit: Wikipedia)




Vatican City, 31 October 2012 (VIS) –


During his general audience this morning Benedict XVI, continuing his catecheses on the subject of Catholic faith, began by posing certain important questions: “Is the nature of faith merely personal and individual? … Do I live my faith alone?”, he asked.


“Certainly, the act of faith is an eminently personal act”, he told the faithful gathered in St. Peter’s Square. “It is something which happens in the most intimate depths of my being and causes a change of direction, a personal conversion. … But the fact that I believe is not the result of solitary reflection, … it is the fruit of a relationship, a dialogue … with Jesus which causes me to emerge from my ‘I’ … and to open myself to the love of God the Father. It is like a rebirth in which I discover that I am united not only to Jesus but also to all those who have walked and continue to walk along His path. And this new birth, which begins with Baptism, continues throughout the course of a person’s life.


“I cannot construct my personal faith in a private dialogue with Jesus”, the Pope added, “because faith is given to me by God through a believing community which is the Church. And faith makes me part of a multitude of believers bound by a communion which is not merely sociological, but rooted in the eternal love of God. … The Catechism of the Catholic Church states this very clearly: ‘Believing is an ecclesial act. The Church’s faith precedes, engenders, supports and nourishes our faith. The Church is the mother of all believers'”.


At the beginning of Christian history, when the Holy Spirit descended upon the disciples on the Day of Pentecost, “the nascent Church received the strength to accomplish the mission entrusted to her by the risen Lord: that of spreading the Gospel, the good news of the Kingdom of God, to the ends of the earth, and thus leading all men and women to meet Him, to the faith which saves. … Thus began the journey of the Church, the community which carries this message though time and space, the community which is the People of God”, whose members “do not belong to a particular social or ethnic group but are men and women from all nations and cultures. They are a ‘catholic’ people who speak new languages, who are open to welcoming everyone, beyond all confines, who break down all barriers”.


“Ever since the beginning, then, the Church has been the place of faith, the place where faith is transmitted. … The life of the Church, the announcement of the Word of God and the celebration of the Sacraments form an unbroken chain which has come down to us and which we call Tradition. This gives us the guarantee that what we believe is Christ’s original message, as preached by the Apostles. … It is in the ecclesial community that personal faith grows and matures”.


In this context the Pope explained how, in the New Testament, the word “saints” is used to refer to Christians as a whole. “Certainly”, he said, “not all of them had the qualities necessary to be declared saints by the Church”. The name “saint” meant that “those who had faith … in the risen Christ were called to become a point of reference for all the others, and to bring them into contact with the Person and Message of Jesus Who revealed the face of the living God. … This also holds true for us. A Christian who allows himself to be guided and moulded by the faith of the Church, despite his weaknesses, limitations and difficulties, becomes a window open to the light of the living God, receiving this light and transmitting it to the world”.


“The tendency, so widespread today, to relegate the faith to the private sphere contradicts its very nature. … We need the Church in order for our faith to be confirmed and to experience the gifts of God together . … In a world in which individualism seems to regulate dealings between people, making them ever more fragile, the faith calls us to be People of God, to be Church, bearers of the love and communion of God for the entire human race”, the Holy Father concluded.






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Derivative Work. Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (Po...

                          Pope Benedict XVI                              (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


The final list of the propositions of the Synod of Bishops on the New
Evangelization for the Transmission of the Christian Faith released by
the Holy See Press Office

VATICAN CITY, OCT. 28, 2012 (Zenit.org).-


* * *

According to the norms set down in the Ordo Synodi Episcoporum (cf. Articles 15 and 39), the Latin is the official text of the Final List of Propositions of Ordinary General Assemblies of the Synod of Bishops, which is submitted to the vote of the synod fathers and destined for the Supreme Pontiff, to whom it is dutifully consigned. By its very nature, this text is confidenial and, therefore, not published out of respect for the consultative character of the synodal assembly.
On this occasion, with the kind permission of the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, the provisional, unofficial English version, prepared under the auspices of the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops, is published in the Bulletin of the Holy See Press Office.
In this regard, it is necessary to point out that the Propositiones result at a determined moment in the synodal process and may serve in a possible promulgation of a papal document, and do not detract from the richness found in the contents of the LineamentaInstrumentum laboris, the discussion in the synod hall, the Relatio ante disceptationem, the Relatio post disceptationem and the Message to the People of God (Nuntius). The work of the Small Groups has permitted a consensus at the synod, which took place in a atmosphere of intense episcopal communion cum Petro and sub Petro, as a result of prayer and listening to each other, even in the those moments of free discussion.

Unofficial English version.



In addition to the entire documentation on The New Evangelization for the Transmission of the Christian Faith related to this synod, submitted to the Holy Father for his consideration, namely, the Lineamenta, the Instrumentum laboris, the Relatio ante disceptationem, the Relatio post disceptationem, the presentations, both given in the synod hall and those in scriptis, the Message to the People of God, the Reports of the Small Groups and their discussions, the synod fathers have given a certain importance to the following propositions.
The Synod Fathers also humbly request the Holy Father to consider the opportuneness of issuing a document on transmitting the Christian faith through a new evangelization.

The Synod Fathers recognize with gratitude the heritage of Papal teaching, often enriching the fruits of earlier Synodal assemblies, that is foundational to the work during these sessions of the Synod for the New Evangelization for the Transmission of the Christian Faith. The reflections of the Synod draw upon documents such as Evangelii nuntiandi of Pope Paul VI, Catechesi tradendaeRedemptoris missio and Novo millennio ineunte of Blessed John Paul II and Deus caritas estSacramentum caritatis and Verbum Domini of Pope Benedict XVI. The most recent example of this guidance is the Year of Faith, proclaimed by our Holy Father at the beginning of this Synod. For this prophetic ministry we are most grateful.

The Oriental Catholic Churches sui juris, which are enlightened by the Tradition that has been handed down from the Apostles through the Fathers, are the patrimony of the whole Church of Christ (cf. Orientalium Ecclesiarum, 2, Codex Canonum Ecclesiarum Orientalium, 39). These Churches are part of the Apostolic heritage through which the Good News was brought to far-off lands (cf. Ecclesia in Medio Oriente, 88).
They are thankful for the possibility offered to them to carry out their pastoral duties towards their migrant faithful in countries with Latin Church traditions. They also hope that their tradition might be more fully known and respected among the faithful and clergy of particular Churches around the world.

1 ) The Nature of the New Evangelization

The Church and her evangelizing mission have their origin and source in the Most Holy Trinity according to the plan of the Father, the work of the Son, which culminated in his death and glorious Resurrection, and the mission of the Holy Spirit. The Church continues this mission of God’s love in our world.
Evangelization has to be understood in a broad and profound theological-doctrinal framework as an activity of word and sacrament which, especially through the Eucharist, admits us to participation in the life of the Trinity, and this then arouses through the grace of the Holy Spirit the power to evangelize and to give witness to the Word of God with enthusiasm and courage.
The New Evangelization recognizes the primacy of God’s grace and how in baptism one comes to live in Christ. This emphasis on divine filiation should bring the baptized to a life of faith that clearly manifests their Christian identity in all aspects of their personal activity.

Jesus offers the gift of the Holy Spirit and reveals to us the love of the Father.
The New Evangelization is a time of awakening, of new encouragement and new witness that Jesus Christ is the center of our faith and daily life. It calls on every member of the Church to a renewal of faith and an actual effort to share it.
It also requires discerning the signs of the times in the world that impacts the ministry of the Church and in the different particular Churches in their proper territories. Among these signs one needs to recognize certainly a growing awareness of people to the changing circumstances of life today.
Furthermore it calls the Church to reach out to those who are far from God and the Christian community to invite them to once again hear the Word of God in order to encounter the Lord Jesus in a new and profound way.
The New Evangelization calls for particular attention to the inculturation of the faith that can transmit the Gospel in its capacity to value what is positive in every culture, at the same time, purifying it from elements that are contrary to the full realization of the person according to the design of God revealed in Christ. Inculturation involves the effort to have the Gospel take flesh in each people’s culture” (CCC, 854).

God, our savior, wills everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth (cf. 1 Tim2: 4). Since the Church believes in this divine plan of universal salvation she must be missionary (cf. Evangelii nuntiandi, 14, CCC, 851). She also knows that “those also can attain to salvation who through no fault of their own do not know the Gospel of Christ or His Church, yet sincerely seek God and moved by grace strive by their deeds to do His will as it is known to them through the dictates of conscience.” (Lumen gentium , 16). The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the proclamation of his life and of the paschal mystery of his passion, death, resurrection and glorification.
The Council reminds us, however, that evangelization is necessary for the salvation of all since “But often men, deceived by the Evil One, have become vain in their reasonings and have exchanged the truth of God for a lie, serving the creature rather than the Creator (cf. Rm 1: 21, 25). Or some there are who, living and dying in this world without God, are exposed to final despair. Wherefore to promote the glory of God and procure the salvation of all of these, and mindful of the command of the Lord, ‘Preach the Gospel to every creature’ (Mk 16:15), the Church fosters the missions with care and attention” (Lumen gentium, 16).

It is proposed that the Church proclaim the permanent world-wide missionary dimension of her mission in order to encourage all the particular Churches to evangelize.
Evangelization can be understood in three aspects. Firstly, evangelization ad gentes is the announcement of the Gospel to those who do not know Jesus Christ. Secondly, it also includes the continuing growth in faith that is the ordinary life of the Church. Finally, the New Evangelization is directed especially to those who have become distant from the Church.
In so doing, all the particular Churches will be encouraged to value and integrate all their various agents and capabilities. At the same time, each particular Church must have the freedom to evangelize according to her own traits and traditions, always in unity with the proper Bishops’ Conference or the Synod of the Eastern Catholic Church. Such a world-wide mission will respond to the action of the Holy Spirit, as in a new Pentecost, through a call issued by the Roman Pontiff, who invites all faithful to visit all families and bring the life of Christ to all human situations.

We are Christians living in a secularized world. Whereas the world is and remains God’s creation, secularization falls within the sphere of human culture. As Christians we cannot remain indifferent to the process of secularization. We are in fact in a situation similar to that of the first Christians and as such we should see this both as a challenge and a possibility. We live in this world, but are not of this world (cf. Jn 15:19; 17:11, 16). The world is God’s creation and manifests his love. In and through Jesus Christ we receive God’s salvation and are able to discern the progress of his creation. Jesus opens the doors for us anew so that, without fear, we can lovingly embrace the wounds of the Church and of the world (cf. Benedict XVI).
In our present age, that manifests aspects more difficult than the past, even if we are like “the little flock” (Lk 12:32), we bear witness to the Gospel message of salvation and we are called to be salt and light of a new world (cf. Mt 5:13-16).

The foundation of all initial proclamation, the kerygmatic dimension, the Good News, makes prominent an explicit announcement of salvation. “For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures,
that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve” (1 Cor 15:3-5).
The ‘first proclamation’ is where the kerygma, the message of salvation of the paschal mystery of Jesus Christ, is proclaimed with great spiritual power to the point of bringing about repentance of sin, conversion of hearts and a decision of faith. At the same time there has to be continuity between first proclamation and catechesis which instructs us in the deposit of the faith.
We consider it necessary that there be a Pastoral Plan of Initial Proclamation, teaching a living encounter with Jesus Christ. This pastoral document would provide the first elements for the catechetical process, enabling its insertion into the lives of the parish communities.
The Synod Fathers propose that guidelines of the initial proclamation of the kerygma be written. This compendium would include:
– Systematic teaching on the kerygma in Scripture and Tradition of the Catholic Church;
– Teachings and quotations from the missionary saints and martyrs in our Catholic history that would assist us in our pastoral challenges of today; and
– Qualities and guidelines for the formation of Catholic evangelizers today.

To proclaim the Good News and the person of Jesus is an obligation for each Christian, founded in the Gospel: “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit” (Mt 28: 19).
At the same time, it is an inalienable right for each person, whatever one’s religion or lack of religion, to be able to know Jesus Christ and the Gospel. This proclamation, given with integrity, must be offered with a total respect for each person, without any form of proselytizing.

God has communicated himself to us in his Word made flesh. This divine Word, heard and celebrated in the Liturgy of the Church, particularly in the Eucharist, strengthens interiorly the faithful and renders them capable of authentic evangelical witness in daily life. The Synod Fathers desire that the divine word “be ever more fully at the heart of every ecclesial activity” (Verbum Domini, 1).
The gate to Sacred Scripture should be open to all believers. In the context of the New Evangelization every opportunity for the study of Sacred Scripture should be made available. The Scripture should permeate homilies, catechesis and every effort to pass on the faith.
In consideration of the necessity of familiarity with the Word of God for the New Evangelization and for the spiritual growth of the faithful, the Synod encourages dioceses, parishes, small Christian communities to continue serious study of the Bible and Lectio Divina, the — the prayerful reading of the Scriptures (cf. Dei Verbum, 21-22).

The Synod Fathers recognize the teaching of Vatican II as a vital instrument for transmitting the faith in the context of the New Evangelization. At the same time, they consider that the documents of the Council should be properly read and interpreted. Therefore, they wish to manifest their adherence to the thought of our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, who has indicated the hermeneutical principle of reform within continuity so as to be able to discover in those texts the authentic spirit of the Council. “There is the “hermeneutic of reform”, of renewal in the continuity of the one subject-Church which the Lord has given to us. She is a subject which increases in time and develops, yet always remaining the same, the one subject of the journeying People of God. […] However, wherever this interpretation guided the implementation of the Council, new life developed and new fruit ripened” (Benedict XVI, Address to the Roman Curia, 22 December 2005). In this way it will be possible to respond to the need for renewal required by the modern world and, at the same time, faithfully preserve the identity of the Church’s nature and mission.

2) The Context of the Church’s Ministry Today

The proclamation of the good news in different contexts of the world — marked by the processes of globalization and secularism — places different challenges before the Church: at times in an outright religious persecution, at other times in a widespread indifference, interference, restriction or harassment.
The Gospel offers a vision of life and of the world that cannot be imposed, but only proposed, as the good news of the gratuitous love of God and of peace. The message of truth and of beauty can help people escape from the loneliness and lack of meaning to which the conditions of post-modern society often relegate them.
Therefore, believers must strive to show to the world the splendor of a humanity grounded in the mystery of Christ. Popular religiosity is important but not sufficient; more is needed to help recognize the duty to proclaim to the world the reason for Christian hope, to those Catholics estranged from the Church, to those who do not follow Christ, to the sects and those experimenting with different kinds of spiritualities.


In a world that is broken by wars and violence, a world hurt by a widespread individualism which separates human beings among themselves, and pits one against the other, the Church must exercise her ministry of reconciliation in a calm and resolute way. The Church in the spirit of the New Evangelization undertakes the task of reconciliation. Faithful to Jesus’ message, (“…he has broken down the dividing wall of hostility” Eph 2:14), the Church has to make an effort to break down the walls that separate human beings. With the message of love, she has to preach the newness of the salvific Gospel of Our Lord, who came to free us from our sins and to invite us to build harmony, peace and justice among all peoples.

Consistent with the emphasis placed on human dignity by the New Evangelization, this Synod urges legislators, teachers and others who work in the human sciences to grant full respect to the human person both in public policy and practice.
At the same time, every opportunity must be taken in various local situations and associations to articulate, uphold and guard, both in theory and in practice, those rights flowing from an adequate understanding of the human person as set forth in the natural law.

Proposition 16 : RELIGIOUS LIBERTY
The Synod Fathers reaffirm that religious freedom is a basic human right. This includes the freedom of conscience and also the liberty to freely choose one’s religion. We are in solidarity with our brothers and sisters, in different parts of the world, who are suffering from lack of religious freedom and even persecution.
In light of the recognition of the Second Vatican Council as an instrument for the New Evangelization and the growing need to protect the religious liberty of Christians throughout the world, the Synod Fathers propose a renewed commitment to and wider diffusion of the teachings of Dignitatis Humanae. This renewal seeks to affirm and promote freedom in religious matters for individuals, families and institutions to protect the common good of all. Such a freedom includes the right to teach the Christian faith without compromise of its tenets to children in the family and/or school.
The Synod Fathers propose that the Holy Father consider the opportuneness of establishing a commission of Church leaders representing various parts of the Church throughout the world or entrusting this task to the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, to address attacks on religious liberty, and to obtain accurate information for public witness to the fundamental right to religious freedom and freedom of conscience.

In the contemporary context of a global Culture, many doubts and obstacles cause an extended skepticism and introduce new paradigms of thought and life. It is of paramount importance, for a New Evangelization, to underline the role of the Preambles of Faith. It is necessary not only to show that faith does not oppose reason, but also to highlight a number of truths and realities which pertain to a correct anthropology, that is enlightened by natural reason. Among them, is the value of the Natural Law, and the consequences it has for the whole human society. The notions of “Natural Law” and “human nature” are capable of rational demonstrations, both at the academic and popular levels. Such an intellectual development and enterprise will help the dialogue between Christian faithful and people of good will, opening a way to recognize the existence of a God the Creator and the message of Jesus Christ the Redeemer. The Synodal Fathers ask theologians to develop a new apologetics of Christian thought, that is a theology of credibility adequate for a New Evangelization.
The Synod calls on theologians to accept and respond to the intellectual challenges of the New Evangelization by participating in the mission of the Church to proclaim to all the Gospel of Christ.

The use of means of social communication has an important role to play in order to reach every person with the message of salvation. In this field, especially in the world of electronic communications, it is necessary that convinced Christians be formed, prepared and made capable to transmit faithfully the content of the faith and of Christian morality. They should have the ability to use well the languages and the instruments of today that are available for communication in the global village. The most effective form of this communication of the faith remains the sharing of the testimony of life, without which none of the “media” efforts will result in an effective transmission of the Gospel. Education in the wise and constructive use of social media is an important means to be utilized in the New Evangelization.

The Papal Magisterium in its social teaching demonstrated the theological, anthropological and educational bonds between evangelization and the development and freedom of both the person and society.
Today it is not possible to think of the New Evangelization without the proclamation of full freedom from everything that oppresses the human person, i.e. sin and its consequences. Without a serious commitment for life and justice and the change of the situations that generate poverty and exclusion (cf. Sollicitudo rei socialis, 36) there can be no progress. This is particularly true in the face of challenges of globalization.

In the New Evangelization, there should be a particular attention paid to the way of beauty: Christ, the “Good Shepherd” (cf. Jn 10:11) is the Truth in person, the beautiful revelation in sign, pouring himself out without measure. It is important to give testimony to the young who follow Jesus, not only of his goodness and truth, but also of the fullness of his beauty. As Augustine affirmed, “it is not possible to love what is not beautiful” (Confessions, Bk IV, 13.20). Beauty attracts us to love, through which God reveals to us his face in which we believe. In this light artists feel themselves both spoken to and privileged communicators of the New Evangelization.
In the formation of seminarians, education in beauty should not be neglected nor education in the sacred arts as we are reminded in the teaching of the Second Vatican Council (cf. Sacrosanctum concilium, 129). Beauty should always be a special dimension of the new evangelization.
It is necessary that the Church be vigilant in caring for and promoting the quality of the art that is permitted in the sacred spaces reserved for liturgical celebrations, guarding both its beauty and the truthfulness of its expression.
It is important for the New Evangelization that the Church be present in all fields of art, so as to support with her spiritual and pastoral presence the artists in their search for creativity and to foster a living and true spiritual experience of salvation that becomes present in their work.

Proposition 21 : MIGRANTS
Just as many countries have greatly benefitted from the presence of people coming from other countries, so too the Church is nourished in a significant way with the witness and the evangelizing work of many of those engaged with the missionary mandate: “Go out into the whole world and proclaim the Gospel to all creation” (Mk 16: 15).
Given the risks and threats to the faith of the migrating peoples, it is important that the Church gives her support through a pastoral plan that includes them and their families, and reminds them of their important place as the living cell of society and the domestic Church. Parishes should help the migrants integrate themselves into society and the Christian community.
The Church’s pastoral plan for migrants should not only welcome migrants and promote their human dignity, but should above all help them be integrated into the life of the Church, respecting their own ritual tradition; this plan should also help them avoid becoming lost to the Catholic Church.
Immigrants are not only recipients, but also protagonists of the proclamation of the Gospel in the modern world.
In the face of the great migratory movements, it is important to insist on the centrality and dignity of the person, in particular in light of the grave phenomena of a new slavery connected to the shameful trafficking of human beings, especially children, and the selling of organs. This awareness must increase when dealing with refugees, the displaced, those on the sea, nomads and people without a fixed home.

Proposition 22 : CONVERSION
The drama and intensity of the age old clash between good and evil, between faith and fear should be presented as the essential background, a constituent element of the call to conversion in Christ. This struggle continues at a natural and supernatural level. “For the gate is narrow and the way is hard, that leads to life, and those who find it are few” (Mt 7: 14). Many bishops spoke of the need for renewal in holiness in their own lives, if they are to be true and effective agents of the New Evangelization.
The New Evangelization requires personal and communal conversion, new methods of evangelization and renewal of the pastoral structures, to be able to move from a pastoral strategy of maintenance to a pastoral position that is truly missionary. The New Evangelization guides us to an authentic pastoral conversion which moves us to attitudes and initiatives which leads to evaluations and changes in the dynamics of pastoral structures which no longer respond to the evangelical demands of the current time.

The universal call to holiness is constitutive of the New Evangelization that sees the Saints as effective models of the variety and forms in which this vocation can be realized. What is common in the varied stories of holiness is the following of Christ expressed in a life of faith active in charity which is a privileged proclamation of the Gospel.
We recognize Mary as the model of holiness that is manifest in acts of love including the supreme gift of self.
Holiness is a significant part of every evangelizing commitment for the one who evangelizes and for the good of those evangelized.

In order to advance a New Evangelization in society, greater attention should be given to the Church’s social doctrine, understanding that it is a proclamation and witness of faith, an irreplaceable means of education in the faith (cf. Caritas in veritate, 15). This embrace of the Church’s social doctrine should permeate the content of catechesis, Christian education, formation of seminarians and religious, the continuing formation of bishops and priests and most especially the formation of the laity. The Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church is a precious resource in accomplishing this continuing formation.

The Church acknowledges that human cities and the culture they express, as well as the transformations that take place in them, are a privileged place of the New Evangelization. Understanding herself at the service of the salvific plan of God, the Church recognizes that the “Holy City, the New Jerusalem” (cf. Rev 21, 2-4) is in a certain way already present in human realities. Putting in practice an urban pastoral plan, the Church wants to identify and understand those experiences, languages and styles of life, that are typical of urban societies. She intends to render her liturgical celebrations, her experiences of communitarian life, and her exercise of charity, relevant to the urban context, in order to incarnate the Gospel in the life of all citizens.
The Church also knows that in many cities one sees the absence of God, in the many attacks on human dignity. Among them: violence related to drug trafficking, corruption of various kinds, and many other crimes. We are convinced that the proclamation of the Gospel can be the basis to restore the dignity of human life in these urban contexts. It is the Gospel of Jesus, who “came that they may have life and have it abundantly” (Jn 10: 10).

3) Pastoral Responses to the Circumstances of Our Day

The bishops gathered in Synod affirm that the parish continues to be the primary presence of the Church in neighborhoods, the place and instrument of Christian life, which is able to offer opportunities for dialogue among men, for listening to and announcing the Word of God, for organic catechesis, for training in charity, for prayer, adoration and joyous eucharistic celebrations. In addition the Synod Fathers would like to encourage parishes to find ways to orient themselves to a greater emphasis on evangelization which could include parish missions, parish renewal programs and parish retreats. The presence and evangelizing action of associations, movements and of other ecclesial realities are useful stimuli for the realization of this pastoral conversion. Parishes as well as traditional and new ecclesial realities are called to make visible together the communion of the particular Church united around the Bishop.
In order to bring to all people the Good News of Jesus, as required by a New Evangelization, all the parishes and their small communities should be living cells, places to promote the personal and communitarian encounter with Christ, experience the richness of liturgy, to give initial and permanent Christian formation, and to educate all the faithful in fraternity and charity especially towards the poor.

Proposition 27 : EDUCATION
“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” (Mt28:19-20). Education is a constitutive dimension of evangelization. To proclaim the Risen Jesus Christ is to accompany all human beings in their personal story, in their development and in their spiritual vocation. Education needs, at the same time, to promote everything that is true, good and beautiful that is a part of the human person, that is to say, to educate the mind and the emotions to appreciate reality.
Children, teenagers and young people have a right to be evangelized and educated. The schools and Catholic universities respond in this way to this need. Public institutions should recognize and support this right.
Schools should assist families in introducing children into the beauty of the faith. Schools offer a great opportunity to transmit the faith or at least to make it known.
The Synod Fathers are grateful for the work of education carried out by thousands of teachers, male and female, in Catholic educational institutions in the five continents.
Because of the singular role of teachers, it is important that they receive ongoing formation in carrying out their responsibilities.
Schools must be free to teach. This freedom is an inalienable right.
For this reason in order to ensure that our institutions are agents of evangelization and not just products of evangelization, the Synod:
– Encourages Catholic educational institutions to do all that is possible to preserve their identity as ecclesial institutions;
– Invites all teachers to embrace the leadership which is theirs as baptized disciples of Jesus, giving witness through their vocation as educators; and
– Urges particular Churches, religious families, and all those who have responsibility in the educational institutions, to facilitate the co-responsibility of lay people, offering adequate formation and accompaniment for this.

Proposition 28 : ADULT CATECHESIS
One cannot speak of the New Evangelization if the catechesis of adults is non-existent, fragmented, weak or neglected. When these defects are present, pastoral ministry faces a very serious challenge.
The phases and levels of the catechumenate of the Church show how biblically, catechetically, spiritually and liturgically a person’s history and faith-journey can be understood as a vocation through a relationship with God (cf. Evangelii nuntiandi, 18; Instrumentum laboris, 92).
In all these things, the public character of the decision of faith which the catechumen makes, which gradually grows in the community and the diocese, has a positive impact on all the faithful.

Good Catechesis is essential for the New Evangelization. The Synod calls attention to the indispensable service that catechists provide the ecclesial communities and expresses profound gratitude for their dedication. All catechists, who are at the same time evangelizers, need to be well prepared. Every effort should be made within the possibilities of the local situation to provide catechists with strong ecclesial formation, that is spiritual, biblical, doctrinal and pedagogical. Personal witness to the faith is itself a powerful form of catechesis.
The “Catechism of the Catholic Church” and its Compendium are, above all, a resource for teaching the faith and supporting adults in the Church in their evangelizing and catechizing mission.
According to the Apostolic Letter Ministeria quaedam of Pope Paul VI, Episcopal Conferences have the possibility to request from the Holy See the institution of the Ministry of Catechist.

Proposition 30 : THEOLOGY
Theology as the science of faith has an importance for the New Evangelization. Priests, teachers and catechists must be formed in institutions of higher education. The Church appreciates and promotes research and the teaching of theology. Scientific theology has its own proper place in the university where it must carry out dialogue between faith and the other disciplines and the secular world. Theologians are called to carry out this service as a part of the salvific mission of the Church. It is necessary that they think and feel with the Church (sentire cum Ecclesia).
The Synod proposes that the New Evangelization be considered as an integral dimension of the mission of every theological faculty and that a department of New Evangelization studies be established in Catholic Universities.

Pope Benedict XVI teaches: “Jesus identifies himself with those in need, with the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the naked, the sick and those in prison. ‘As you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me’ (Mt 25: 40). Love of God and love of neighbour have become one: in the least of the brethren we find Jesus himself, and in Jesus we find God” (Deus caritas est, 15).
Today there are new poor and new faces of poverty: the hungry, the homeless, the sick and abandoned, drug addicts, migrants and the marginalized, political and environmental refugees, the indigenous peoples. The current economic crisis seriously affects the poor. Among the poorest in contemporary society are the victims of grievous loss of respect for the inviolable dignity of innocent human life.
The preferential option for the poor leads us to seek out the poor and to work on their behalf so that they may feel at home in the Church. They are both recipients and actors in the New Evangelization.

Proposition 32 : THE SICK
The New Evangelization must be ever aware of the Paschal Mystery of the death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. This mystery sheds light on the suffering of people who can find in the Cross of Christ understanding and acceptance of the mystery of suffering that gives them hope in the life to come.
In the sick, the suffering, persons with disabilities and those with special needs, Christ’s suffering is present and has a missionary force. For Christians, there must always be place for the suffering and the sick. They need our care, but we receive even more from their faith.
Through the sick, Christ enlightens His Church, so that everyone who enters into contact with them will find reflected the light of Christ. This is why the sick are very important participants in the New Evangelization.
All those in contact with the sick need to be aware of their mission. We cannot forget when we build new hospitals to pay attention so that we do not lack a consoling and supportive environment and a place for prayer.

The Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation is the privileged place to receive God’s mercy and forgiveness. It is a place for both personal and communal healing. In this sacrament, all the baptized have a new and personal encounter with Jesus Christ, as well as a new encounter with the Church, facilitating a full reconciliation through the forgiveness of sins. Here the penitent encounters Jesus, and at the same time he or she experiences a deeper appreciation of himself and herself. The Synod Fathers ask that this sacrament be put again at the center of the pastoral activity of the Church.
In every diocese, at least one place should be especially dedicated in a permanent way for the celebration of this sacrament, where priests are always present, allowing God’s mercy to be experienced by all the faithful. The sacrament should be especially available, even on a daily basis, at places of pilgrimage and specially designated churches. Fidelity to the specific norms which rule the administration of this sacrament is necessary. Every priest should consider the Sacrament of Penance an essential part of his ministry and of the New Evangelization, and in every parish community a suitable time should be set apart for hearing confessions.

The Eucharist must be the source and summit of the New Evangelization. The Synod Fathers urge all Christ’s faithful to renew their understanding and love for the Eucharistic celebration, in which their lives are transformed and joined to Christ’s offering of his own life to the glory of God the Father for the salvation of the whole world.
Even though there is a tension between the Christian Sunday and the secular Sunday, Sunday needs to be recovered for the New Evangelization according to Blessed John Paul II’s teaching in “Dies Domini”. Sunday with its sacred and special character together with Sunday Mass should be the center of Catholic life. Full, active and conscious participation in the liturgy on the part of the whole community is the goal. The liturgical year with its feasts should be followed by a true program of evangelization, especially at Christmas and Easter.

Proposition 35 : LITURGY
The worthy celebration of the Sacred Liturgy, God’s most treasured gift to us, is the source of the highest expression of our life in Christ (cf. Sacrosanctum concilium, 10). It is, therefore, the primary and most powerful expression of the new evangelization. God desires to manifest the incomparable beauty of his immeasurable and unceasing love for us through the Sacred Liturgy, and we, for our part, desire to employ what is most beautiful in our worship of God in response to his gift. In the marvelous exchange of the Sacred Liturgy, by which heaven descends to earth, salvation is at hand, calling forth repentance and conversion of heart (cf. Mt 4:17; Mk 1:15).
Evangelization in the Church calls for a liturgy that lifts the hearts of men and women to God. The liturgy is not just a human action but an encounter with God which leads to contemplation and deepening friendship with God. In this sense, the liturgy of the Church is the best school of the faith.

The principal agent of evangelization is the Holy Spirit, who opens hearts and converts them to God. The experience of encountering the Lord Jesus, made possible by the Spirit, which introduces one into the Trinitarian life, welcomed in a spirit of adoration, supplication and of praise, must be fundamental to every aspect of the New Evangelization. This is the “contemplative dimension” of the New Evangelization which is nourished continually through prayer, beginning with the liturgy, especially the Eucharist, source and summit of the life of the Church.
Therefore, we propose that prayer be encouraged and taught from infancy. Children and youth should be educated in the family and in schools to recognize the presence of God in their lives, to praise Him, to give thanks for the gifts received from Him, and to ask that the Holy Spirit guide them.

All the Christian faithful are entrusted with the mission to evangelize, due to the sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation. Here the faithful are sealed by the anointing of the Holy Spirit and are called to participate in the mystery of Pentecost. Through Confirmation, all the baptized receive the fullness of the Holy Spirit, his charisms, and the power to give witness to the Gospel openly and with courage.
It is important that mystagogical catechesis accompany the grace of filial adoption received at Baptism, underlining the importance of the gift of the Holy Spirit which enables one to fully participate in the Eucharistic witness of the Church and its influence in all the spheres of life and human activity.
Hence proper and systematic catechesis prior to the reception of these sacraments is of prime importance.

The Synod wishes to state that Christian initiation is a crucial element in the New Evangelization and is the means by which the Church, as a mother, brings forth children and regenerates herself. Therefore we propose that the traditional process of Christian initiation, that has often become simply a proximate preparation for the sacraments, be everywhere considered in a catechumenal prospective, giving more relevance to permanent mystagogy, and thus becoming true initiation to Christian life through the sacraments. (cf. General Directory of Catechesis, 91).
In this perspective it is not without consequences that the situation today concerning the three sacraments of Christian initiation, despite their theological unity, are pastorally diverse. These differences in the ecclesial communities are not of a doctrinal nature but differences of pastoral judgment. This Synod however requests that what the Holy Father has affirmed in Sacramentum caritatis, 18, become a stimulus for dioceses and episcopal conferences to review their practices of Christian initiation: “Concretely, it needs to be seen which practice better enables the faithful to put the sacrament of the Eucharist at the center, as the goal of the whole process of initiation” (Sacramentum caritatis, 18).

Popular piety is a true place to encounter Christ, and also express the faith of the Christian people in the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Saints. The New Evangelization recognizes the value of these faith experiences and encourages them as ways to grow in Christian virtue.
Pilgrimages to shrines and sanctuaries are an important aspect of the new evangelization. Not only because of the millions of people who continue to make these pilgrimages but because this form of popular piety at this time is an especially promising opportunity for conversion and the growth of faith. It is important therefore that a pastoral plan be developed that properly welcomes the pilgrims and, in response to the deep desire of the pilgrims, opportunities be offered so that the time of the pilgrimage can be lived as a true moment of grace.

The Synod is grateful to the Holy Father for establishing the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization as an instrument at the service of the particular Churches, and asks that this Dicastery carry on the synodal discussions in further study and in the development and promotion of the New Evangelization.
It also requests that consideration be given in each episcopal conference to the establishment of a commission in order to promote the study and diffusion of the pontifical Magisterium relative to the themes that are a part of the New Evangelization. In this way, there can be created a strong collaboration among the particular Churches and therefore greater effectiveness in implementing the New Evangelization.

4) Agents / Participants of the New Evangelization

The particular church, led by the bishop, who is helped by priests and deacons, with the collaboration of consecrated persons and the laity, is the subject of the New Evangelization. This is so because in each place, the particular church is the concrete manifestation of the Church of Christ and as such initiates, coordinates and accomplishes the pastoral actions through which the New Evangelization is carried out.
In the Church the call to holiness, directed to all the baptized, rings out, inviting them to follow Christ and turn with love and goodwill towards all people, in order to discern the action of the Holy Spirit in them. “As I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (Jn 13:34-35). For the first Christian communities, communion was a constitutive element of the life of faith and necessary to evangelization: they had one heart and mind. The Church is communion, that is to say, the Church is the Family of God.
The Church enables each of her members to be aware of their responsibility to be like leaven in the dough. In this way, “faith working through love” (Gal 5: 6) will become a contagious witness for the world in all her dimensions, offering to every person the possibility of meeting Christ and becoming evangelizers in their turn.
It would be desirable if each particular church, whatever difficulties occur, developed a sense of mission among her faithful by cooperating with other particular churches.

Each particular Church is the primary community of the Church’s mission. It must animate and lead a renewed pastoral activity able to integrate the variety of charisms, ministries, states of life and resources. All these realities must be coordinated within an organic missionary project, capable of communicating the fullness of Christian life to everyone, especially to those who feel themselves far from the Church’s care. Such an endeavor must arise from the dialogue and cooperation of all diocesan components, including: parishes, small Christian communities, educational communities, communities of consecrated life, associations, movements and individual faithful. Every pastoral program must transmit the true novelty of the Gospel, and be centered on a personal and living encounter with Jesus. It should also be ordered to eliciting in all people a generous embrace of the faith, and a willingness to accept the call to be witnesses.

The Holy Spirit directs the Church in her missionary evangelization “with various hierarchical and charismatic gifts” (Lumen gentium, 4). In fact the dioceses are “a portion of the people of God under the pastoral care of the bishop, helped by his presbyterate” (Christus Dominus, 11), where the diverse charismatic realities recognize the authority of the bishop as integral to their own proper action in service of the ecclesial mission. The Bishop has the responsibility for “judging the genuineness of these gifts and guiding their ordinary use” (Lumen gentium, 12), as an authentic resource for the life and mission of the Church. The hierarchical gifts and the charismatic gifts, flowing from the one Spirit of God, are not in competition but rather co-essential to the life of the Church and to the effectiveness of her missionary action (cf. John Paul II, Message to Participants at the World Congress of Ecclesial movements, May 27, 1998). The consecrated life occupies a special place in the charismatic dimension of the Church (cf. Mutuae relationes, 34,Rispartire da Cristo, 32); as such, fully inserted into the ecclesial communion, they contribute with their own proper gifts to missionary evangelization. Studies should be undertaken at both diocesan and interdiocesan levels to see how both the charismatic and hierarchical gifts are able to cooperate in the pastoral action and in the spiritual life of the Church.
Since Vatican II, the New Evangelization has greatly benefited from the dynamism of the new ecclesial movements and new communities. Their ideal of holiness and unity has been the source of many vocations and remarkable missionary initiatives. The Synod recognizes these new realities and encourages them to utilise their charisms in close collaboration with the dioceses and the parish communities, who in turn, will benefit from their missionary spirit.
The parish, in and through all of its activities, should animate its members to become agents of the New Evangelization, witnessing through both their words and their lives. For this reason, it is important to remember that the parish remains the usual environment for the spiritual life of the parishioners. The Synod therefore encourages parish visits to families as a way of parish renewal. It sometimes happens that the parish is seen as only a place for important events or even as a tourist center.
Along the same line, “pastoral agents” in hospitals, youth centres, factories, prisons, etc., have to bear in mind that the New Evangelization should find a home in these places. The Church should in fact be present in such places, since Christ showed his preference for the persons found there. As much as lies within their power, all Churches are therefore exhorted to be open to this mission, wherever they are.

The vocation and the mission proper to lay faithful is the transformation of worldly structures, to let all human behavior and activities be informed by the Gospel. This is the reason why it is so important to guide the Christian laity into an intimate knowledge of Christ in order to form their moral conscience through their life in Christ. The Second Vatican Council identifies four main aspects of the mission of the baptized: the witness of their lives, works of charity and mercy, renewing the temporal order and direct evangelization (cf. Lumen gentiumApostolicam actuositatem). In this way, they will be able to give witness of a life truly coherent with their Christian faith, as individual persons and as a community.
The laity cooperate in the Church’s work of evangelization, as witnesses and at the same time as living instruments they share in her saving mission (cf. Ad gentes, 41). Therefore the Church values the gifts that the Spirit is making to every baptized for the construction of the body, and should provide adequate encouragement and training to foster their apostolic zeal in the transmission of the faith.

The Church appreciates the equal dignity of women and men in society as made in the image of God, and in the Church based on their common vocation as baptized into Christ.
The Church’s Pastors have recognized the special capacities of women, such as their attention to others and their gifts for nurture and compassion, most especially in their vocation as mothers.
Women together with men witness to the Gospel of life through their dedication to transmission of life in the family. Together they help to keep the faith alive.
The Synod acknowledges that today, women (lay and religious) together with men contribute to theological reflection at all levels and share pastoral responsibilities in new ways, thus carrying forward the New Evangelization for the transmission of the faith.

This Synod considers that it is necessary to establish formation centers for the New Evangelization, where lay people learn how to speak of the person of Christ in a persuasive manner adapted to our time and to specific groups of people (young people, agnostics, the elderly and so forth).
Trinitarian Christocentricity (cf. General Directory of Catechesis, 98-100) is the most essential and fundamental criterion for presenting the Gospel message in all three moments of evangelization, whether for initial proclamation, catechesis or on-going formation (cf. GDC, 60-72). All teaching and resources are to be evaluated in this light.

Established by the sacrament of matrimony, the Christian family as the domestic Church is the locus and first agent in the giving of life and love, the transmission of faith and the formation of the human person according to the values of the gospel. In imitating Christ, the whole Church must dedicate herself to supporting families in the catechesis of children and youth. In many cases the grandparents will have a very important role.
At the same time the New Evangelization should strive to address significant pastoral problems around marriage, the case of divorced and remarried, the situation of their children, the fate of abandoned spouses, the couples who live together without marriage and the trend in society to redefine marriage.
The Church with maternal care and evangelical spirit should seek appropriate responses for these situations, as an important aspect of the new evangelization.
Every pastoral plan of evangelization should also include a respectful invitation to all those who live alone, to experience God in the family of the Church.
It is necessary to educate people in how to live human sexuality according to Christian anthropology, both before marriage as well as in marriage itself.
The Synod notes with appreciation those families who leave their homes in order to be evangelizers for Christ in other countries and cultures.

The Synod Fathers encourage bishops and priests to know the lives of the people they serve in a more personal way. People are looking for authentic and credible witnesses in their bishops and priests who live and model the faith and the New Evangelization. The bishop is an evangelizer who leads by example and shares with all the baptized the blessings of being called to evangelization.
Ongoing formation for clergy on the New Evangelization and methods for evangelization in the diocese and parish are needed in order to learn effective means to mobilize the laity to engage in the New Evangelization. We invite the Bishops, those principally responsible for the whole pastoral work of the Church, to develop a plan that animates and accompanies in a direct and personal manner the pastoral work of the presbyterate, the decisive leadership core of the New Evangelization.
Confronted with the scandals affecting priestly life and ministry, which we deeply regret, we propose nevertheless that thanks and encouragement be given to the faithful service of so many priests and that pastoral orientations be given to the particular churches on a presbyteral pastoral plan that is systematic and organized, that supports the genuine renewal of the life and ministry of the priests, who are the primary agents of the New Evangelization (cf. Pastores dabo vobis, 2).
So that priests will be adequately prepared for the work of the New Evangelization, the Synod wishes that in their formation, care is taken to form them in a deep spirituality, solid doctrine, the capacity to communicate in catechesis and an awareness of modern cultural phenomena.

Seminaries should take as their focus the New Evangelization so that it becomes the recurring and unifying theme in programs of human, spiritual, intellectual and pastoral formation in the ars celebrandi, in homiletics and in the celebration of the sacrament of Reconciliation, all very important parts of the New Evangelization.The Synod recognizes and encourages the work of deacons whose ministry provides the Church great service. Ongoing formation programs within the diocese should also be available for deacons.

Proposition 50 : CONSECRATED LIFE
The Consecrated life, of both men and women, has made a very important contribution to the Church’s work of evangelization throughout history.
In this moment of new evangelization, the Synod asks all men and women religious and members of secular institutes to live their identity as consecrated persons radically and with joy. The witness of a life which manifests the primacy of God and which, by means of the common life, expresses the humanizing force of the Gospel is a powerful proclamation of the Reign of God.
Consecrated life, fully evangelical and evangelizing, in profound communion with the pastors of the Church and in co-responsibility with the laity, faithful to the respective charisms, will offer a significant contribution to the New Evangelization.
The Synod asks Religious Orders and Congregations to be fully available to go to the geographical, social and cultural frontiers of evangelization. The Synod invites religious to move toward the new aeropaghi of mission.
Because the New Evangelization is essentially a spiritual matter, the Synod also underlines the great importance of the contemplative life in the transmission of the faith.
The age-old tradition of the consecrated contemplative life in its previous forms of stable community life of prayer and work continues to be a powerful source of grace in the life and mission of the Church. The Synod hopes that the New Evangelization will move many more faithful to embrace this form of life.

In the New Evangelization, the youth are not only the future but also the present (and gift) in the Church. They are not only the recipients but also agents of evangelization, especially with their peers. The youth are in the stage of searching for truth and meaning in life that Jesus who is the Truth and their Friend can provide.
Through exemplary Christian adults, the saints, especially the young saints, and through committed youth ministers, the Church is visible and credible for the youth. Wherever they are, at home, in school, or in the Christian community, it is necessary that evangelizers meet the young and spend time with them; propose to them and accompany them in following Jesus, guide them to discover their vocation in life and in the Church.
As the media greatly influence the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual well-being of the youth, the Church through catechesis and youth ministry strives to enable and equip them to discern between good and evil, to choose Gospel values over worldly values, and to form firm faith convictions.
The World Youth Day celebrations and YOUCAT are special instruments of the New Evangelization.

The ecumenical dimension of the engagement for the New Evangelization should be highlighted. This corresponds to the prayer of the Lord Jesus “so that they may all be one” (Jn 17, 23). The credibility of our service to the Gospel will be much greater if we can overcome our divisions. While upholding Catholic identity and communion, the New Evangelization promotes ecumenical collaboration, which demonstrates how much the faith given in Baptism unites us.
The Synod Fathers are grateful for the progress in ecumenical dialogue since the Second Vatican Council. Despite past difficulties, this dialogue was particularly shown in this Synod by the participation of the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, of the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams and of the fraternal delegates. The Synod Fathers express their desire that the Church continues her efforts in this path of unity and charity.

The dialogue with all believers is a part of the New Evangelization. In particular, the Church invites Christians to persevere and to intensify their relations with Muslims according to the teaching of the Declaration Nostra aetate. Despite difficulties, this dialogue must continue. It always depends on the partners having an adequate formation, an authentic ecclesial foundation as Christians and an attitude of respect for the conscience of people and for religious liberty for all.
Faithful to the teaching of Vatican II, the Church respects the other religions and their adherents and is happy to collaborate with them in the defense and promotion of the inviolable dignity of every person.

The dialogue between science and faith is a vital field in the New Evangelization. On the one hand, this dialogue requires the openness of reason to the mystery which transcends it and an awareness of the fundamental limits of scientific knowledge. On the other hand, it also requires a faith that is open to reason and to the results of scientific research.

The ecclesial communities open a kind of Courtyard of the Gentiles where believers and non-believers can dialogue about fundamental themes: the great values of ethics, art and science, and the search for the transcendent. This dialogue is directed in particular to “those to whom religion is something foreign, to whom God is unknown and who nevertheless do not want to be left merely Godless, but rather to draw near to him, albeit as the Unknown” (Benedict XVI, Address to the Members of the Roman Curia, 21 December 2009). In a particular way, Catholic educational institutions could promote such a dialogue which is never separated from the “initial proclamation”.

The Stewardship of creation also serves evangelization in many ways. It is a witness to our faith in the goodness of God’s creation. It demonstrates a sense of solidarity with all those who depend for their life and sustenance on the goods of creation. It shows inter-generational solidarity with those who come after us, and is a clear witness to the responsible and equitable use of the goods of the earth, our common home.


“You will be my witnesses” (Acts 1:8). From the very beginning the Church has understood her responsibility to pass on the Good News. The task of the New Evangelization, following in this apostolic tradition, is the transmission of the faith. The Second Vatican Council reminds us that this task is a complex process which involves the faith and life of every Christian.
This faith cannot be transmitted in a life which is not modeled after the Gospel or a life which does not find its meaning, truth and future based on the Gospel.
For this reason, the New Evangelization for the transmission of the Christian faith calls all believers to renew their faith and their personal encounter with Jesus in the Church, to deepen their appreciation of the truth of the faith and joyfully to share it.

Vatican Council II presented Mary in the context of the Mystery of Christ and of the Church (cf.Lumen gentium, 52-68). Pope Paul VI declared her the “Star of Evangelization.” She is therefore the model of faith, hope and love. She is the first helper who brings disciples to the Master (cf. Jn2). In the Upper Room she is the Mother of the believers (cf. Acts 1:14).
As Mother of the Redeemer, Mary becomes a witness of God’s love. She freely fulfills God’s will. She is the strong woman, who along with John, remains at the foot of the Cross. She always intercedes for us and accompanies the faithful in their journey as far as the cross of the Lord.
As Mother and Queen she is a sign of hope for suffering and needy peoples. Today she is the “Missionary” who will aid us in the difficulties of our time and with her nearness open the hearts of men and women to the faith.
We fix our gaze on Mary. She will help us to proclaim the message of salvation to all men and women, so that they too may become agents of Evangelization. Mary is the Mother of the Church. Through her presence, may the Church become a home for many and Mother of all peoples.

[00372-02.16] [NNNNN] [Original text: English]


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During the Twentieth Congregation held today, the Synodal Fathers approved the Message of the Synod of Bishops to the People of God, for the conclusion of the XIII Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops.

(Vatican Radio) – Friday, October 26 2012,

The full text of the English version is published below:

Brothers and sisters,
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 1:7). Before returning to our particular Churches, we, Bishops of the whole world gathered by the invitation of the Bishop of Rome Pope Benedict XVI to reflect on “the new evangelization for the transmission of the Christian faith”, wish to address all of you spread throughout the world in order to sustain and direct the preaching and teaching of the Gospel in the diverse contexts in which the Church finds herself today to give witness.

1. Like the Samaritan woman at the well
Let us draw light from a Gospel passage: Jesus’ encounter with the Samaritan woman (cf. John 4:5-42). There is no man or woman who, in one’s life, would not find oneself like the woman of Samaria beside a well with an empty bucket, with the hope of finding the fulfillment of the heart’s most profound desire, that which alone could give full meaning to existence. Today, many wells offer themselves to quench humanity’s thirst, but we must discern in order to avoid polluted waters. We must orient the search well, so as not to fall prey to disappointment, which can be disastrous.
Like Jesus at the well of Sychar, the Church also feels obliged to sit beside today’s men and women. She wants to render the Lord present in their lives so that they could encounter him because he alone is the water that gives true and eternal life. Only Jesus can read the depths of our heart and reveal the truth about ourselves: “He told me everything I have done”, the woman confesses to her fellow citizens. This word of proclamation is united to the question that opens up to faith: “Could he possibly be the Messiah?” It shows that whoever receives new life from encountering Jesus cannot but proclaim truth and hope to others. The sinner who was converted becomes a messenger of salvation and leads the whole city to Jesus. The people pass from welcoming her testimony to personally experiencing the encounter: “We no longer believe because of your word; for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is truly the savior of the world”.

Português: Cerimônia de canonização do frade b...

Papa Bento XVI Photo credit: Wikipedia

2. A new evangelization
Leading the men and women of our time to Jesus, to the encounter with him is a necessity that touches all the regions of the world, those of the old and those of the recent evangelization. Everywhere indeed we feel the need to revive a faith that risks eclipse in cultural contexts that hinders its taking root in persons and its presence in society, the clarity of its content and its coherent fruits.
It is not about starting again, but entering into the long path of proclaiming the Gospel with the apostolic courage of Paul who would go so far as to say “Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel!” (1 Corinthians 9:16). Throughout history, from the first centuries of the Christian era to the present, the Gospel has edified communities of believers in all parts of the world. Whether small or great, these are the fruit of the dedication of generations of witnesses to Jesus – missionaries and martyrs – whom we remember with gratitude.
Changing societies and cultures call us to something new: to live our communitarian experience of faith in a renewed way and to proclaim it through an evangelization that is “new in its ardor, in its methods, in its expressions” (John Paul II, Discourse to the XIX Assembly of CELAM, Port-au-Prince, 9 March 1983, n. 3) as John Paul II said. Benedict XVI recalled that it is an evangelization that is directed “principally at those who, though baptized, have drifted away from the Church and live without reference to the Christian life… to help these people encounter the Lord, who alone fills our existence with deep meaning and peace; and to favor the rediscovery of the faith, that source of grace which brings joy and hope to personal, family and social life”(Benedict XVI, Homily for the Eucharistic celebration for the solemn inauguration of the XIII Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, Rome, 7 October 2012).

3. The personal encounter with Jesus Christ in the Church
Before saying anything about the forms that this new evangelization must assume, we feel the need to tell you with profound conviction that the faith determines everything in the relationship that we build with the person of Jesus who takes the initiative to encounter us. The work of the new evangelization consists in presenting once more the beauty and perennial newness of the encounter with Christ to the often distracted and confused heart and mind of the men and women of our time, above all to ourselves. We invite you all to contemplate the face of the Lord Jesus Christ, to enter the mystery of his existence given for us on the cross, reconfirmed in his resurrection from the dead as the Father’s gift and imparted to us through the Spirit. In the person of Jesus, the mystery of God the Father’s love for the entire human family is revealed. He did not want us to remain in a false autonomy. Rather he reconciled us to himself in a renewed pact of love.
The Church is the space offered by Christ in history where we can encounter him, because he entrusted to her his Word, the Baptism that makes us God’s children, his Body and his Blood, the grace of forgiveness of sins above all in the sacrament of Reconciliation, the experience of communion that reflects the very mystery of the Holy Trinity, the strength of the Spirit that generates charity towards all.
We must form welcoming communities in which all outcasts find a home, concrete experiences of communion which attract the disenchanted glance of contemporary humanity with the ardent force of love – “See how they love one another!” (Tertullian, Apology, 39, 7). The beauty of faith must particularly shine in the actions of the sacred Liturgy, above all in the Sunday Eucharist. It is precisely in liturgical celebrations that the Church reveals herself as God’s work and renders the meaning of the Gospel visible in word and gesture.
It is up to us today to render experiences of the Church concretely accessible, to multiply the wells where thirsting men and women are invited to encounter Jesus, to offer oases in the deserts of life. Christian communities and, in them, every disciple of the Lord are responsible for this: an irreplaceable testimony has been entrusted to each one, so that the Gospel can enter the lives of all. This requires of us holiness of life.

4. The occasions of encountering Jesus and listening to the Scriptures
Someone will ask how to do all this. We need not invent new strategies as if the Gospel were a product to be placed in the market of religions. We need to rediscover the ways in which Jesus approached persons and called them, in order to put them into practice in today’s circumstances.
We recall, for example, how Jesus engaged Peter, Andrew, James and John in the context of their work, how Zaccheus was able to pass from simple curiosity to the warmth of sharing a meal with the Master, how the Roman centurion asked him to heal a person dear to him, how the man born blind invoked him as liberator from his own marginalization, how Martha and Mary saw the hospitality of their house and of their heart rewarded by his presence. By going through the pages of the Gospels as well as the apostles’ missionary experiences in the early Church, we can discover the various ways and circumstances in which persons’ lives were opened to Christ’s presence.
The frequent reading of the Sacred Scriptures – illuminated by the Tradition of the Church who hands them over to us and is their authentic interpreter – is not only necessary for knowing the very content of the Gospel, which is the person of Jesus in the context of salvation history. Reading the Scriptures also helps us to discover opportunities to encounter Jesus, truly evangelical approaches rooted in the fundamental dimensions of human life: the family, work, friendship, various forms of poverty and the trials of life, etc.

5. Evangelizing ourselves and opening ourselves to conversion
We, however, should never think that the new evangelization does not concern us personally. In these days voices among the Bishops were raised to recall that the Church must first of all heed the Word before she could evangelize the world. The invitation to evangelize becomes a call to conversion.
We firmly believe that we must convert ourselves above all to the power of Christ who alone can make all things new, above all our poor existence. With humility we must recognize that the poverty and weaknesses of Jesus’ disciples, especially of his ministers, weigh on the credibility of the mission. We are certainly aware – we Bishops first of all – that we could never really be equal to the Lord’s calling and mandate to proclaim his Gospel to the nations. We know that we must humbly recognize our vulnerability to the wounds of history and we do not hesitate to recognize our personal sins. We are, however, also convinced that the Lord’s Spirit is capable of renewing his Church and rendering her garment resplendent if we let him mold us. This is demonstrated by the lives of the Saints, the remembrance and narration of which is a privileged means of the new evangelization.
If this renewal were up to us, there would be serious reasons to doubt. But conversion in the Church, just like evangelization, does not come about primarily through us poor mortals, but rather through the Spirit of the Lord. Here we find our strength and our certainty that evil will never have the last word whether in the Church or in history: “Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid” (John 14:27), Jesus said to his disciples.
The work of the new evangelization rests on this serene certainty. We are confident in the inspiration and strength of the Spirit, who will teach us what we are to say and what we are to do even in the most difficult moments. It is our duty, therefore, to conquer fear through faith, humiliation through hope, indifference through love.
6. Seizing new opportunities for evangelization in the world today
This serene courage also affects the way we look at the world today. We are not intimidated by the circumstances of the times in which we live. Our world is full of contradictions and challenges, but it remains God’s creation. The world is wounded by evil, but God loves it still. It is his field in which the sowing of the Word can be renewed so that it would bear fruit once more.
There is no room for pessimism in the minds and hearts of those who know that their Lord has conquered death and that his Spirit works with might in history. We approach this world with humility, but also with determination. This comes from the certainty that the truth triumphs in the end. We choose to see in the world God’s invitation to witness to his Name. Our Church is alive and faces the challenges that history brings with the courage of faith and the testimony of her many daughters and sons.
We know that we must face in this world a difficult struggle against the “principalities” and “powers”, “the evil spirits” (Ephesians 6:12). We do not ignore the problems that such challenges bring, but they do not frighten us. This is true above all for the phenomena of globalization which must be opportunities for us to expand the presence of the Gospel. Despite the intense sufferings for which we welcome migrants as brethren, migrations have been and continue to be occasions to spread the faith and build communion in its various forms. Secularization – as well as the crisis brought about the ascendancy of politics and of the State – requires the Church to rethink its presence in society without however renouncing it. The many and ever new forms of poverty open new opportunities for charitable service: the proclamation of the Gospel binds the Church to be with the poor and to take on their sufferings like Jesus. Even in the most bitter forms of atheism and agnosticism, we can recognize – although in contradictory forms – not a void but a longing, an expectation that awaits an adequate response.
In the face of the questions that dominant cultures pose to faith and to the Church, we renew our trust in the Lord, certain that even in these contexts the Gospel is the bearer of light and capable of healing every human weakness. It is not we who are to conduct the work of evangelization, but God, as the Pope reminded us: “The first word, the true initiative, the true activity comes from God and only by inserting ourselves in to the divine initiative, only by begging this divine initiative, will we too be able to become – with him and in him – evangelizers”(Benedict XVI, Meditation during the first general Congregation of the XIII General Ordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, Rome, 8 October 2012).

7. Evangelization, the family and consecrated life
Ever since the first evangelization, the transmission of the faith from one generation to the next found a natural home in the family where women play a very special role without diminishing the figure and responsibility of the father. In the context of the care that every family provides for the growth of its little ones, infants and children are introduced to the signs of faith, the communication of first truths, education in prayer, and the witness of the fruits of love. Despite the diversity of their geographical, cultural and social situations, all the Bishops of the Synod reconfirmed this essential role of the family in the transmission of the faith. A new evangelization is unthinkable without acknowledging a specific responsibility to proclaim the Gospel to families and to sustain them in their task of education.
We do not ignore the fact that today the family, established in the marriage of a man and of a woman which makes them “one flesh” (Matthew 19:6) open to life, is assaulted by crises everywhere. It is surrounded by models of life that penalize it and neglected by the politics of society of which it is also the fundamental cell. It is not always respected in its rhythms and sustained in its tasks by ecclesial communities. It is precisely this, however, that impels us to say that we must particularly take care of the family and its mission in society and in the Church, developing specific paths of accompaniment before and after matrimony. We also want to express our gratitude to the many Christian couples and families who, through their witness, show the world an experience of communion and of service which is the seed of a more loving and peaceful society.
Our thoughts also went to the many families and couples living together which do not reflect that image of unity and of lifelong love that the Lord entrusted to us. There are couples who live together without the sacramental bond of matrimony. More and more families in irregular situations are established after the failure of previous marriages. These are painful situations that negatively affect the education of sons and daughters in the faith. To all of them we want to say that God’s love does not abandon anyone, that the Church loves them, too, that the Church is a house that welcomes all, that they remain members of the Church even if they cannot receive sacramental absolution and the Eucharist. May our Catholic communities welcome all who live in such situations and support those who are in the path of conversion and reconciliation.
Family life is the first place in which the Gospel encounters the ordinary life and demonstrates its capacity to transform the fundamental conditions of existence in the horizon of love. But not less important for the witness of the Church is to show how this temporal existence has a fulfillment that goes beyond human history and attains to eternal communion with God. Jesus does not introduce himself to the Samaritan woman simply as the one who gives life, but as the one who gives “eternal life” (John 4:14). God’s gift, which faith renders present, is not simply the promise of better conditions in this world. It is the proclamation that our life’s ultimate meaning is beyond this world, in that full communion with God that we await at the end of time.
Of this supernatural horizon of the meaning of human existence, there are particular witnesses in the Church and in the world whom the Lord has called to consecrated life. Precisely because it is totally consecrated to him in the exercise of poverty, chastity and obedience, consecrated life is the sign of a future world that relativizes everything that is good in this world. May the gratitude of the Assembly of the Synod of Bishops reach these our brothers and sisters for their fidelity to the Lord’s calling and for the contribution that they have given and give to the Church’s mission. We exhort them to hope in situations that are difficult even for them in these times of change. We invite them to establish themselves as witnesses and promoters of new evangelization in the various fields to which the charism of each of their institutes assigns them.

8. The ecclesial community and the many agents of evangelization
No one person or group in the Church has exclusive right to the work of evangelization. It is the work of ecclesial communities as such, where one has access to all the means for encountering Jesus: the Word, the sacraments, fraternal communion, charitable service, mission.
In this perspective, the role of the parish emerges above all as the presence of the Church where men and women live, “the village fountain”, as John XXIII loved to call it, from which all can drink, finding in it the freshness of the Gospel. It cannot be abandoned, even though changes can require of it to be made up of small Christian communities or to either the articulation into small communities or forge bonds of collaboration within larger pastoral contexts. We exhort our parishes to join the new forms of mission required by the new evangelization to the traditional pastoral care of God’s people. These must also permeate the various important expressions of popular piety.
In the parish, the ministry of the priest – father and pastor of his people – remains crucial. To all priests, the Bishops of this Synodal Assembly express thanks and fraternal closeness for their difficult task. We invite them to strengthen the bonds of the diocesan presbyterium, to deepen their spiritual life, to an ongoing formation that enables them to face the changes.
Alongside the priests, the presence of deacons is to be sustained, as well as the pastoral action of catechists and of many other ministers and animators in the fields of proclamation, catechesis, liturgical life, charitable service. The various forms of participation and co-responsibility of the faithful must also be promoted. We cannot thank enough our lay men and women for their dedication in our communities’ manifold services. We ask all of them, too, to place their presence and their service in the Church in the perspective of the new evangelization, taking care of their own human and Christian formation, their understanding of the faith and their sensitivity to contemporary cultural phenomena.
With regard to the laity, a special word goes to the various forms of old and new associations, together with the ecclesial movements and the new communities: All are an expression of the richness of the gifts that the Spirit bestows on the Church. We also thank these forms of life and of commitment in the Church, exhorting them to be faithful to their proper charism and to earnest ecclesial communion especially in the concrete context of the particular Churches.
Witnessing to the Gospel is not the privilege of one or of a few. We recognize with joy the presence of many men and women who with their lives become a sign of the Gospel in the midst of the world. We recognize them even in many of our Christian brothers and sisters with whom unity unfortunately is not yet full, but are nevertheless marked by the Lord’s Baptism and proclaim it. In these days it was a moving experience for us to listen to the voices of many authorities of Churches and ecclesial communities who gave witness to their thirst for Christ and their dedication to the proclamation of the Gospel. They, too, are convinced that the world needs a new evangelization. We are grateful to the Lord for this unity in the necessity of the mission.

9. That the youth may encounter Christ
The youth are particularly dear to us, because they, who are a significant part of humanity’s and the Church’s present, are also their future. With regard to them, the Bishops are far from being pessimistic. Concerned, yes; but not pessimistic. We are concerned because the most aggressive attacks of our times happen to converge precisely on them. We are not, however, pessimistic, above all because what moves in the depths of history is Christ’s love, but also because we sense in our youth deep aspirations for authenticity, truth, freedom, generosity, to which we are convinced that the adequate response is Christ.
We want to support them in their search and we encourage our communities to listen to, dialogue with and respond boldly and without reservation to the difficult condition of the youth. We want our communities to harness, and not to suppress, the power of their enthusiasm; to struggle for them against the fallacies and selfish ventures of worldly powers which, to their own advantage, dissipate the energies and waste the passion of the young, taking from them every grateful memory of the past and every earnest vision of the future.
The world of the young is a demanding but also particularly promising field of the New Evangelization. This is demonstrated by many experiences, from those that draw many of them like the World Youth Days, to the most hidden – but nonetheless powerful – like the different experiences of spirituality, service and mission. The youth’s active role in evangelizing first and foremost their world is to be recognized.

10. The Gospel in dialogue with human culture and experience and with religions
The New Evangelization is centered on Christ and on care for the human person in order to give life to a real encounter with him. However, its horizons are as wide as the world and beyond any human experience. This means that it carefully cultivates the dialogue with cultures, confident that it can find in each of them the “seeds of the Word” about which the ancient Fathers spoke. In particular, the new evangelization needs a renewed alliance between faith and reason. We are convinced that faith has the capacity to welcome every product of a sound mind open to transcendence and the strength to heal the limits and contradictions into which reason could fall. Faith does not close its eyes, not even before the excruciating questions arising from evil’s presence in life and in history, in order to draw the light of hope from Christ’s Paschal Mystery.
The encounter between faith and reason nourishes also the Christian community’s commitment in the field of education and culture. The institutions of formation and of research – schools and universities – occupy a special place in this. Wherever human intelligence is developed and educated, the Church is pleased to bring her experience and contribution to the integral formation of the person. In this context particular care is to be reserved for catholic schools and for catholic universities, in which the openness to transcendence that belongs to every authentic cultural and educational course, must be fulfilled in paths of encounter with the event of Jesus Christ and of his Church. May the gratitude of the Bishops reach all who, in sometimes difficult conditions, are involved in this.
Evangelization requires that we pay much attention to the world of social communication, especially the new media, in which many lives, questions and expectations converge. It is the place where consciences are often formed, where people spend their time and live their lives. It is a new opportunity for touching the human heart.
A particular field of the encounter between faith and reason today is the dialogue with scientific knowledge. This is not at all far from faith, since it manifests the spiritual principle that God placed in his creatures. It allows us to see the rational structures on which creation is founded. When science and technology do not presume to imprison humanity and the world in a barren materialism, they become an invaluable ally in making life more humane. Our thanks also go to those who are involved in this sensitive field of knowledge.
We also want to thank men and women involved in another expression of the human genius, art in its various forms, from the most ancient to the most recent. We recognize in works of art a particularly meaningful way of expressing spirituality inasmuch as they strive to embody humanity’s attraction to beauty. We are grateful when artists through their beautiful creations bring out the beauty of God’s face and that of his creatures. The way of beauty is a particularly effective path of the new evangelization.
In addition to works of art, all of human activity draws our attention as an opportunity in which we cooperate in divine creation through work. We want to remind the world of economy and of labor of some reminders arising from the Gospel: to redeem work from the conditions that often make it an unbearable burden and an uncertain future threatened by youth unemployment, to place the human person at the center of economic development, to think of this development as an occasion for humanity to grow in justice and unity. Humanity transforms the world through work. Nevertheless he is called to safeguard the integrity of creation out of a sense of responsibility towards future generations.
The Gospel also illuminates the suffering brought about by disease. Christians must help the sick feel that the Church is near to persons with illness or with disabilities. Christians are to thank all who take care of them professionally and humanely.
A field in which the light of the Gospel can and must shine in order to illuminate humanity’s footsteps is politics. Politics requires a commitment of selfless and sincere care for the common good by fully respecting the dignity of the human person from conception to natural end, honoring the family founded by the marriage of a man and a woman and protecting academic freedom; by removing the causes of injustice, inequality, discrimination, violence, racism, hunger and war. Christians are asked to give a clear witness to the precept of charity in the exercise of politics.
Finally, the Church considers the other religions are her natural partners in dialogue. One is evangelized because one is convinced of the truth of Christ, not because one is against another. The Gospel of Jesus is peace and joy, and his disciples are happy to recognize whatever is true and good that humanity’s religious spirit has been able to glimpse in the world created by God and that it has expressed in the various religions.
The dialogue among religions intends to be a contribution to peace. It rejects every fundamentalism and denounces every violence that is brought upon believers as serious violations of human rights. The Churches of the whole world are united in prayer and in fraternity to the suffering brethren and ask those who are responsible for the destinies of peoples to safeguard everyone’s right to freely choose, profess and witness to one’s faith.

11. Remembering the Second Vatican Council and referring to the Catechism of the Catholic Church in the Year of Faith
In the path opened by the New Evangelization, we might also feel as if we were in a desert, in the midst of dangers and lacking points of reference. The Holy Father Benedict XVI, in his homily for the Mass opening the Year of Faith, spoke of a “spiritual ‘desertification’” that has advanced in the last decades. But he also encouraged us by affirming that “it is in starting from the experience of this desert, from this void, that we can again discover the joy of believing, its vital importance for us, men and women. In the desert we rediscover the value of what is essential for living” (Homily for the Eucharistic celebration for the opening of the Year of Faith, Rome, 11 October 2012). In the desert, like the Samaritan woman, we seek water and a well from which to drink: blessed is the one who encounters Christ there!
We thank the Holy Father for the gift of the Year of Faith, an exquisite portal into the path of the new evangelization. We thank him also for having linked this Year to the grateful remembrance of the opening of the Second Vatican Council fifty years ago. Its fundamental magisterium for our time shines in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which is proposed once more as a sure reference of faith twenty years after its publication. These are important anniversaries, which allow us to reaffirm our close adherence to the Council’s teaching and our firm commitment to carry on its implementation.

12. Contemplating the mystery and being at the side of the poor
In this perspective we wish to indicate to all the faithful two expressions of the life of faith which seem particularly important to us for witnessing to it in the New Evangelization.
The first is constituted by the gift and experience of contemplation. A testimony that the world would consider credible can arise only from an adoring gaze at the mystery of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, only from the deep silence that receives the unique saving Word like a womb. Only this prayerful silence can prevent the word of salvation from being lost in the many noises that overrun the world.
We now address a word of gratitude to all men and women who dedicate their lives in monasteries and hermitages to prayer and contemplation. Moments of contemplation must interweave with people’s ordinary lives: spaces in the soul, but also physical ones, that remind us of God; interior sanctuaries and temples of stone that, like crossroads, keep us from losing ourselves in a flood of experiences; opportunities in which all could feel accepted, even those who barely know what and whom to seek.
The other symbol of authenticity of the new evangelization has the face of the poor. Placing ourselves side by side with those who are wounded by life is not only a social exercise, but above all a spiritual act because it is Christ’s face that shines in the face of the poor: “Whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me” (Matthew 25:40).
We must recognize the privileged place of the poor in our communities, a place that does not exclude anyone, but wants to reflect how Jesus bound himself to them. The presence of the poor in our communities is mysteriously powerful: it changes persons more than a discourse does, it teaches fidelity, it makes us understand the fragility of life, it asks for prayer: in short, it brings us to Christ.
The gesture of charity, on the other hand, must also be accompanied by commitment to justice, with an appeal that concerns all, poor and rich. Hence, the social doctrine of the Church is integral to the pathways of the new evangelization, as well as the formation of Christians to dedicate themselves to serve the human community in social and political life.

13. To the Churches in the various regions of the world
The vision of the Bishops gathered in the synodal assembly embraces all the ecclesial communities spread throughout the world. Their vision seeks to be comprehensive, because the call to encounter Christ is one, while keeping diversity in mind.
The Bishops gathered in the Synod gave special consideration, full of fraternal affection and gratitude, to you Christians of the Catholic Oriental Churches, those who are heirs of the first wave of evangelization – an experience preserved with love and faithfulness – and those present in Eastern Europe. Today the Gospel comes to you again in a new evangelization through liturgical life, catechesis, daily family prayer, fasting, solidarity among families, the participation of the laity in the life of communities and in dialogue with society. In many places your Churches are amidst trials and tribulation through which they witness to their participation in the sufferings of Christ. Some of the faithful are forced to emigrate. Keeping alive their oneness with their community of origin, they can contribute to the pastoral care and to the work of evangelization in the countries that have welcomed them. May the Lord continue to bless your faithfulness. May your future be marked by the serene confession and practice of your faith in peace and religious liberty.
We look to you Christians, men and women, who live in the countries of Africa and we express our gratitude for your witness to the Gospel often in difficult circumstances. We exhort you to revive the evangelization that you received in recent times, to build the Church as the family of God, to strengthen the identity of the family, to sustain the commitment of priests and catechists especially in the small Christian communities. We affirm the need to develop the encounter between the Gospel and old and new cultures. Great expectation and a strong appeal is addressed to the world of politics and to the governments of the various countries of Africa, so that, in collaboration with all people of good will, basic human rights may be promoted and the continent freed from violence and conflicts which still afflict it.
The Bishops of the synodal Assembly invite you, Christians of North America, to respond with joy to the call to a new evangelization, while they look with gratitude at how your young Christian communities have borne generous fruits of faith, charity and mission. You need to recognize the many expressions of the present culture in the countries of your world which are today far from the Gospel. Conversion is necessary, from which is born a commitment that does not bring you out of your cultures, but in their midst to offer to all the light of faith and the power of life. As you welcome in your generous lands new populations of immigrants and refugees, may you be willing to open the doors of your homes to the faith. Faithful to the commitments taken at the synodal Assembly for America, be united with Latin America in the ongoing evangelization of the continent you share.
The synodal assembly addressed the same sentiment of gratitude to the Church in Latin America and the Caribbean. Particularly striking throughout the ages is the development in your countries of forms of popular piety still fixed in the hearts of many people, of charitable service and of dialogue with cultures. Now, in the face of many present challenges, first of all poverty and violence, the Church in Latin America and in the Caribbean is encouraged to live in an ongoing state of mission, announcing the Gospel with hope and joy, forming communities of true missionary disciples of Jesus Christ, showing in the commitment of its sons and daughters how the Gospel could be the source of a new, just and fraternal society. Religious pluralism also tests your Churches and requires a renewed proclamation of the Gospel.
To you, Christians of Asia, we also offer a word of encouragement and of exhortation. As a small minority in the continent which houses almost two thirds of the world’s population, your presence is a fruitful seed entrusted to the power of the Spirit, which grows in dialogue with the diverse cultures, with the ancient religions and with the countless poor. Although often outcast by society and in many places also persecuted, the Church of Asia, with its firm faith, is a valuable presence of the Christ’s Gospel which proclaims justice, life and harmony. Christians of Asia, feel the fraternal closeness of Christians of other countries of the world which cannot forget that in your continent – in the Holy Land – Jesus was born, lived, died and rose from the dead.
The Bishops address a word of gratitude and hope to the Churches of the European continent, in part marked today by a strong – sometimes even aggressive – secularization, and in part still wounded by many decades of regimes with ideologies hostile to God and to man. We look with gratitude towards the past, but also to the present, in which the Gospel has created in Europe singular theologies and experiences of faith – often overflowing with holiness – that have been decisive for the evangelization of the whole world: richness of theological thought, variety of charismatic expressions, varied forms of charitable service towards the poor, profound contemplative experiences, the creation of a humanistic culture which has contributed to defining the dignity of the person and shaping the common good. May the present difficulties not pull you down, dear Christians of Europe: may you consider them instead as a challenge to be overcome and an occasion for a more joyful and vivid proclamation of Christ and of his Gospel of life.
Finally, the bishops of the synodal assembly greet the people of Oceania who live under the protection of the southern Cross, they thank them for their witness to the Gospel of Jesus. Our prayer for you is that you might feel a profound thirst for new life, like the Samaritan Woman at the well, and that you might be able to hear the word of Jesus which says: “If you knew the gift of God” (John 4:10). May you more strongly feel the commitment to preach the Gospel and to make Jesus known in the world of today. We exhort you to encounter him in your daily life, to listen to him and to discover, through prayer and meditation, the grace to be able to say: “We know that this is truly the Savior of the World” (John 4:42).

14. The star of Mary illumines the desert
Arriving at the end of this experience of communion among Bishops of the entire world and of collaboration with the ministry of the Successor of Peter, we hear echoing in us the actual command of Jesus to his disciples: “Go and make disciples of all nations […] and behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age” (Matthew 28:19,20). This time, the mission is not addressed to one geographic area only, but goes to the very hidden depths of the hearts of our contemporaries to draw them back to an encounter with Jesus, the Living One who makes himself present in our communities.
This presence fills our hearts with joy. Grateful for the gifts received from him in these days, we raise to him the hymn of praise: “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord […] The Mighty One has done great things for me” (Luke 1:46,49). We make Mary’s words our own: the Lord has indeed done great things for his Church throughout the ages in various parts of the world and we magnify him, certain that he will not fail to look on our poverty in order to show the strength of his arm in our days and to sustain us in the path of the new evangelization.
The figure of Mary guides us on our way. Our work, as Pope Benedict XVI told us, can seem like a path across the desert; we know that we must journey, taking with us what is essential: the company of Jesus, the truth of his word, the eucharistic bread which nourishes us, the fellowship of ecclesial communion, the impetus of charity. It is the water of the well that makes the desert bloom. As stars shine more brightly at night in the desert, so the light of Mary, Star of the new evangelization, brightly shines in heaven on our way. To her we confidently entrust ourselves.


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CWN – October 24, 2012

“What is faith?” Pope Benedict XVI asked that rhetorical question at the beginning of a short discourse at his public audience on October 24.

At his regular weekly audience the Pope continued his new series of talks on faith. He also stunned Vatican-watchers with a surprise announcement that he was calling a consistory in November, to elevate six new members of the College of Cardinals. (See today’s separate CWN headline story for a report on that announcement.)

In the 2nd discourse of his series on faith, the Pope observed that material progress has not solved the problems of mankind. “Despite the greatness of the discoveries of science and the breakthroughs of technology, today man does not seem to have truly become freer, more humane; there are still many forms of exploitation, manipulation, violence, oppression, injustice,” he observed. He added that the question of faith has increasing urgency at a time when the number of people who feel disoriented is growing and, in seeking to go beyond a purely horizontal reality, they are willing to believe anything and its direct opposite.”

More and more people are asking fundamental questions about the meaning of life, the Pope said, and finding that the prevailing culture gives them no satisfactory answers. “These unrelenting questions reveal how the world of planning, of exact calculation and experimentation, in a word, the knowledge of science, while important for human life, is not enough.”

Faith enables believers to find meaning in life, the Pope said, through “a confident trust in a ‘You’—that is, God.” He emphasized: “Faith is not a mere intellectual assent to the special truths of God, it is an act by which I entrust myself freely to a God who is our Father and loves me, it is adherence to a ‘You’ that gives me hope and confidence.”

Faith also provides a path to salvation, the Pontiff continued. He reminded his audience of the sobering words of Christ near the conclusions of St. Mark’s Gospel: “He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.” Pope Benedict added to his audience: “I invite you to reflect on this.”

Catholicism at high altitude

              Catholicism at high altitude             (Photo credit: blackenedsky)

“Faith is a gift of God, but it is also a deeply human and free act,” the Pope said. Faith is a gift from God, but requires a response from man: “a going beyond ourselves, our securities, our thought patterns, to rely on the action of God who shows us the way to achieve true freedom, our human identity, true joy of heart, peace with everyone.”


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Christian Research INSTITUTE


Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry

Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Too often people suppose the task of apologetics to be the exclusive domain of scholars and theologians. Not so! The defense of the faith is not optional. It is basic training for every Christian. And that means you!


First, the Bible informs us that apologetics is not just a nicety; it is a necessity for every believer. Writing in a world steeped in mystery cults, the apostle Peter admonished believers to “always be prepared to give an answer [apologia] to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have” (1 Peter 3:15). As such, Paul vigorously defended the gospel (Acts 17:15–34; 18:4) and charged Timothy and Titus to do the same (2 Timothy 2:23–26; 4:2–5; Titus 1:9–14).


Furthermore, apologetics is necessary for the preservation of the faith. Not only must the church defend against objections from without, she must also guard against false teachings from within. Thus, Paul admonishes Timothy to “preach the Word, be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths” (2 Timothy 4:2–4). Defending essential Christian doctrine against perversions by pseudo–Christian cults is a crucial task of the Christian apologist.


The Scutum Fidei, a diagram frequently used by...

The Scutum Fidei, a diagram frequently used by Christian apologists to explain the Trinity. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Finally, apologetics is necessary for the cultural relevance of the church. In a post–Christian society in which theism is no longer en vogue and belief in the possibility of miracles is viewed as simpleminded superstition, apologetics creates intellectual room for the acceptance of the gospel. In place of merely pontificating dogmatic assertions, Christian apologists are commanded to provide defensible arguments “with gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15).


For further study, see J. P. Moreland, Love Your God with All Your Mind:The Role of Reason in the Life of the Soul (Colorado Springs: NavPress, 2007); see also Hank Hanegraaff and Tom Fortson, 7 Questions of a Promise Keeper (Nashville: J. Countryman, 2006).


“Dear friends, although I was very eager to write
to you about the salvation we share, I felt
I had to write and urge you to contend for the faith
that was once for all entrusted to the saints.”

Jude 3





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Apologetics offer to unbelievers — with “gentleness and respect” — that which helps them see the light of Christ more clearly.


Christian Research Institute

By: Gannon Murphy

This article first appeared in the Effective Evangelism column of the Christian Research Journal, volume 24, number 4 (2002). For further information or to subscribe to the Christian Research Journal go to: http://www.equip.org

Apologetics has been defined as “the discipline that deals with a rational defense of the Christian faith.”1 Since Christianity posits a certain knowledge and understanding of God, it is the task of the Christian apologist to demonstrate the grounds of biblical revelation and to establish why placing one’s faith in Christianity is not only reasonable but also existentially vital.

Christians have a biblical mandate to engage in apologetics. Peter said, “Always be ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence” (1 Pet. 3:15; NASB). The word translated here as “make a defense” is the Greek, apologia. The apologist par excellence from biblical times was the apostle Paul himself. The Bible tells us that Paul “reasoned” with unbelievers in order to explain the truths of Christianity to them. Paul used terms and arguments his contemporary audience could understand, and he provided “reasoned” responses to their objections (e.g., Acts 17:17). Paul instructed others to carry on the apologetic task, saying that we must “demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God” (2 Cor. 10:5).2

One need not possess great intellectual gifts such as Paul’s to engage in apologetics. Christians rather should make use of the particular gifts God has given them while providing answers “for the hope that is in [them].” The goal of apologetics is not to win arguments for the sake of winning arguments or to engage in some kind of intellectual one-upmanship. It is, instead,  The apologist is charged with removing obstacles, especially intellectual ones, which hinder a faith commitment to Christ. We must recognize, however, that it is ultimately the work of God through grace alone that results in one’s salvation. Paul asserted this truth: “It is by grace you have been saved, through faith —and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God” (Eph. 2:8).

Christian philosopher Blaise Pascal (1623–62) once wrote that “it is the conduct of God, who disposes all things kindly, to put religion into the mind by reason, and into the heart by grace.”3 Along with Pascal, it has been the firm conviction of apologists throughout the centuries that arguments do not, in and of themselves, convert; rather, true Christian conversion is rightfully attributed to the work of God in grace.

The question that naturally arises, then, is: If ultimately the gift of salvation is solely dependent on God, why have apologetics? What are the proper goals of the apologist? From a biblical standpoint, it appears there are at least three. We will explore these goals and how they fit in with the soteriological (saving) work of the Holy Spirit.

Goal Number One:To Remove Intellectual Stumbling Blocks That Hindera Faith Commitment to Christ

As we’ve seen, Paul taught Christians to “demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Cor. 10:5). Apologetics is not a biblical suggestion. It is a biblical command! Christians have a divine mandate to share with unbelievers the reason for the hope that lies within them. Christ does not call on the world to make a “blind leap of faith” into a dark abyss of mindless credulity. He rather calls people out of the darkness and into the light of the truth.

Never in Scripture does God command that people believe apart from offering them reasons to do so. Jesus Himself said, “Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the miracles themselves” (John 14:11). Peter reminded the unbelievers of his day that Christ was “a man accredited by God to [them] by miracles, wonders and signs” (Acts 2:22); indeed, Peter and Paul argued vigorously for the truth of Jesus’ messianic identity by appealing to the meticulous fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy in His life, ministry, death, and resurrection (see Acts 3:11–26; 13:27; 26:22; 28:23). We must also be prepared to offer such reasons for belief.

Even so, the question still remains how removing intellectual barriers fits in with the work of the Holy Spirit. There are at least two ways. The first of these involves a consideration of the elements of saving faith. The sixteenth-century Protestant Reformers identified three. They called them the notitia, assensus, and fiducia. The notitia, or “notes,” is the information contained in the gospel message. This information may be communicated either through reading Scripture itself or by hearing it spoken through a secondary agent. The assensus refers to one’s intellectual assent to that which is presented in the notitia. In other words, it is an understanding of, and agreement with, the truthfulness of the gospel message. Finally, there is the fiducia. This refers to one’s submission to the truths contained in the notitia. This is more than mere intellectual assent to the truth. It is placing one’s trust in it. For example, it’s one thing to know and agree intellectually that a chair can support your body. It is quite another thing to put that belief to work by sitting on the chair and thereby demonstrating your trust in its ability to support you. In the same way, the Bible makes it clear that people may come to know, understand, and even believe in the things of God but still withhold their faith and trust in Him in wanton disobedience (see, e.g., James 2:17–20).

When we engage in apologetics, we address ourselves to the first and second of these items, the notitia and assensus. By stripping away layers of intellectual objection, we leave people without any intellectual excuse before God; yet we acknowledge that only the Holy Spirit can move them to entrust their lives to Christ (1 Cor. 12:3).

The second reason we remove intellectual stumbling blocks is simply that the Holy Spirit often uses these efforts as the very means through which He convicts people of the truth. Many Christians, this writer included, can attest to having heard the words of an apologist at one point in their life and suddenly a “light” turned on inside of them that convinced them of the truth of what they were hearing. This “light” is the work of the Holy Spirit through the work of an apologist.

Goal Number Two:To Support and Further Ground Believers in Their Faith

This will equip them to witness boldly for Christ and it will also help to protect them from being deceived by worldly philosophies. Paul said, “See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ” (Col. 2:8). We live in an age that bombards us with a plurality of ideas, many of which are in diametrical opposition to the things of God. Any Christian student on the university campus these days can attest to this. The news and entertainment media also frequently caricature Christians as ignorant and regressive, fomenting doctrines that hinder progress.

In these circumstances, apologetics helps undergird believers in their faith so their witness may be like Paul’s in the synagogue where he “spoke boldly…arguing persuasively about the kingdom of God” (Acts 19:8). It reminds us, as Thomas Aquinas (c. 1225–74) put it, that “faith does not destroy reason, but goes beyond it and perfects it.”4 Apologetics demonstrates that we need not fear the intellectual attacks of the committed secularist. The God of Scripture is real, and there is nothing that conventional wisdom can muster to prove Him false. Apologetics strengthens faith and trains Christians in the discernment of error and the proclamation of truth with boldness.

Goal Number Three:To Silence the Attacks of the Unbelieving World

It seems unbelievers ceaselessly look for opportunities to place reason and science at enmity with faith. Calvin once said part of the apologetic task is to “stop the mouths of the obstreperous.” Peter supported this contention when he said, “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander” (1 Pet. 3:15–16). By giving reasons for our faith and living an upright life, we “shame” those who “slander” Christians to discredit Christianity.

We must not underemphasize Peter’s apostolic command to keep a clear conscience when engaging the unbelieving world. Apologetics is not merely a call to engage in intellectual argumentation; it is a call to live a life of Christian character. Peter also wrote, “Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God” (1 Pet. 2:12). As we “contend for the faith” (Jude 3) with evidences and reason, we must strive to live lives that are beyond moral reproach. By doing both, we are more able to silence the attacks of the unbelieving world and live to the glory of God.

Scripture tells us, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind” (Luke 10:27). We honor this directive when we develop each of these dimensions in our lives and use them to the glory of God. The Christian apologist seeks not to forget the important role that the mind plays in bringing the lost to Christ — especially when it is combined with the strength of a worshipful heart and soul.


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A Reponse to Perceived Disconnect in Pastoral Care

This dissertation was written by theology student Keith William Marshall in partial fulfillment of the requirement for the degree of M.Th.

It addresses the question, “What does it mean to offer pastoral care in both the manner in which Jesus wished it to be undertaken and in terms of the content of the care that is offered to Christ’s flock?”


Gregory the Great, Pastoral Care, ca. 600, pro...

Gregory the Great, Pastoral Care, ca.  seventh-century manuscript in an uncial script without divisions between words, probably originating in Rome. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This dissertation is written in response to a perceived breakdown in pastoral care.

Chapter one allows us to see something of the hurt and disappointment which many are currently experiencing. Some of the letters quoted are by experienced clerics with decades of experience.

In Chapter 2 we consider pastoral contexts. We look at the Pastoral Great Commission of John 21:15-17. We consider the appropriateness of the primary metaphor which the dissertation uses. We finish by looking at the Trinity as a model of community.

In Chapter 3 we look at pastoral commonalities in the models and writings of four figures from the sixth to the twenty-first century. We find agreement that pastoral care must be individualised but that the context for care can vary considerably. All agree it critical that the “under-shepherd” is an example.

In Chapter 4 we consider Jesus as kenotic archetype. We look at the nature of divine love. We suggest that Jesus is to be understood in the Gospels as being genuinely dependent on God in his humanity and that he taught and modelled kenotic service.

In Chapter 5 we use criteria derived from our study which relate to the three dimensions of the Christian life. We test these criteria by examining three different contexts of pastoral care.

Our conclusion is that excellence in pastoral care will promote love for God reflected in a prayerful dependent spirituality, love for one another reflecting Trinitarian communality, and love for others in kenotic service which will include enabling sheep to also become “under-shepherds.”

In “under-shepherds” promoting and valuing these three things as essential, they will, however tentatively, be responding to Jesus‟ commands: to “Feed my sheep” (John 21:15-17) and to “Follow me” (John 21:19, 22).

St. Camillus Catholic Center for Pastoral Care...

St. Camillus Catholic Center for Pastoral Care (Photo credit: Wikipedia)



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