The document that will guide the deliberations of the world's bishops as they chart the re-evangelization of the West is on the verge of being released.
“Things are going well at this stage and the working document, the instrumentum laboris, is about to be published,” Cardinal Francis Arinze told CNA.“It is the actual one that every participant in the synod in October will have.”
The former prefect of the Vatican’s Congregation for Divine Worship is now a member of the preparatory committee for this year’s Synod of Bishops.
It will take place at the Vatican October 7-28 under the title of “The New Evangelization for the Transmission of the Christian Faith.”
Cardinal Arinze said the working document will outline “the necessity to revisit” those areas of the world “that have been evangelized maybe for 1000 years or 500 years and where the faith was once very strong” but where “now people are rather cold in the faith.”
It will also stress the need for this “new freshness” and “new ardor” to be communicated using new technology, he said.
This year’s Synod of Bishops will help launch Pope Benedict’s Year of Faith, which also relates to the Church’s New Evangelization efforts.
It marks the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council and the 20th of the publication of the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
Cardinal Arinze believes that life in the Western world has “many other offers to the human person” which are “attracting” or even “distracting” people away from Christianity so that “the message of Christ can sometimes be forgotten, given a second place, put as a footnote.”
“So someone has to come who has the enthusiasm of an evangelizer, who has the convincing power of a witness who lives with conviction what that witness is preaching” and who is also “ready to use modern methods to contact people.”
This should also involve a direct appeal to “the intelligentsia” of western society, said Cardinal Arinze.
“When St Paul went to Athens he didn’t avoid the men of culture, the elite, but he presented the message of Christ to them in terminology that would be suitable for that group.”
Despite the focus being on the West, the 79-year-old Nigerian cleric believes that the rest world will also play its part and benefit from the New Evangelization.
“Africa can contribute because there’s a type of freshness which the African countries bring to the practice of Christianity” which can “contaminate” those “who have been evangelized for more years.”