Saturday, October 27, 2012

Message of the Synod: look with "with serene courage" to the future of evangelization

The Church looks "with serene courage" to the future of evangelization, in our contemporary world "full of contradictions and challenges", but which "remains God's creation". 

The world is "wounded by evil, but God loves it still".  

This is how the "Message to the People of God", which was approved this morning in the Synod looks at the prospects of the new evangelization in our time.

"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".

"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".

But just as during the Second Vatican Council, recalling the gathering's opening 50 years ago, the tone is positive. Thus, "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. "

But to evangelize people must first be evangelized. Therefore, the need for conversion starting from the Church, because the weaknesses and sins of Christians weigh heavily on their credibility. " 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."

While rejecting pessimism, the new evangelization demands the commitment of the entire People of God.  Starting with the family, "natural place of evangelization" that "must be supported by the Church, politics and society. And within the family, the special role of women is emphasised, the responsibility of fathers reaffirmed and the painful situation of couples, the divorced and remarried remembered: despite the confirmed rules about access to the sacraments, it is stressed that they are not abandoned by the Lord and that the Church is a welcoming home for everyone. Catholic communities are welcoming to those who live in such situations and support ways of conversion and reconciliation".

The message then indicates the parishes as essential centres of evangelization and recalls the importance of consecrated life and lifelong formation for priests and religious, also inviting the laity to proclaim the Gospel. Particular attention is paid to young people " 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".
But the horizon of the new evangelization is extended to all places of the presence and action of man. "Wherever human intelligence is developed and educated, the Church is pleased to bring her experience and contribution to the integral formation of the person."

Alongside the school is "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".

"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".

 "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. "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".
In the last part, the Message looks at churches in different regions of the world and to each of them addresses words of encouragement. To Asian Christians "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".

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