PONTIFF CALLS FOR “MISSIONARY AUDACITY”

Evangelization Isn’t Just for the Fallen-Away, Clarify Bishops

TIRANA, Albania, OCT. 4, 2011 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI is asking European bishops to be audacious in thinking of new ways to spread the Gospel message.

The Pope asked bishops of Europe to “identify new ways of evangelization with missionary audacity,” and he particularly stressed the need that young people have of the Gospel.

This exhortation came in a papal message sent by the Holy Father’s secretary of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, to the Plenary Assembly of the Council of European Bishops’ Conferences (CCEE). The four-day conference, held in Tirana, Albania, concluded Sunday.

The Pontiff’s message included the call to “continue the work of this valuable structure of union among the European episcopates [the CCEE], which for 40 years has promoted fruitful collaboration in pastoral and ecumenical activities.”

Opportunity

Archbishop Salvatore Fisichella, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelization, addressed the meeting.

He pointed out that many Europeans today no longer know anything about Christianity. However, the prelate said, more than a “crisis” this is an opportunity for growth.

“The new evangelization is an opportunity given to us to read and interpret the current historical moment in order that the Church’s work might become extraordinary,” he said. “In other words, we are called to live, in an extraordinary way, the ordinary event in the life of the Church, which is evangelization.”

It’s under way!

A CCEE statement today affirmed that the “new evangelization is a major concern for European bishops.”

Each bishops’ conference of the CCEE prepared for the assembly with a survey on the issue, which showed that many efforts in the new evangelization are already under way.

“Evangelization is the manifestation of the Church’s life and vitality. It should not be understood simply as a pastoral activity, but as the manifestation of its very nature and mission,” the statement noted.

The prelates clarified that a “new evangelization” is not just for fallen-away Christians, but for everyone.

“It seeks to proclaim Christ, true God and true man, crucified to bear every human grief, raised from the dead that we might have life,” they stated. “Through their baptism, all believers are called to take part in the new evangelization: families; young people who are generally the most open to being missionaries; but also parishes, the movements, and new communities.

“Places of catechesis and Catholic schools must also be and become ever more places of evangelization. (…) There is also question of seeking new ways to evangelize, such as, for example, new technology, the Internet, and social networking sites. But all this is only possible if, following the example of the Christians of the Acts of the Apostles, we open ourselves up in a new way to the Holy Spirit: ‘There will be no new evangelization without a new Pentecost!'”

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