On this day in 2010, Pope Benedict XVI renewed the Church’s call to the New Evangelization. In his homily for the first vespers Mass on the solemnity of SS. Peter and Paul, he recounted:
Pope John Paul II represented the Church's missionary nature "in the flesh" with his Apostolic Journeys and with the insistence of his Magisterium on the urgent need for a "new evangelization": "new" not in its content but in its inner thrust, open to the grace of the Holy Spirit which constitutes the force of the new law of the Gospel that always renews the Church; "new" in ways that correspond with the power of the Holy Spirit and which are suited to the times and situations; "new" because of being necessary even in countries that have already received the proclamation of the Gospel.
…There are regions of the world that are still awaiting a first evangelization; others that have received it, but need a deeper intervention; yet others in which the Gospel put down roots a long time ago, giving rise to a true Christian tradition but in which, in recent centuries with complex dynamics the secularization process has produced a serious crisis of the meaning of the Christian faith and of belonging to the Church.
…Dear Brothers and Sisters, the challenge of the new evangelization calls into question the universal Church and asks us to continue with commitment our search for full Christian unity.
This commitment to the new evangelization has become one of the highlights of Pope Benedict’s pontificate. He established the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization in 2010, and he set the theme for the 13th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops—“The New Evangelization for the Transmission of the Christian Faith.”
The Synod will take place October 7-28, which coincides with the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council, the 20th anniversary of the publication of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and most importantly, the inauguration of the Year of Faith. Bishops, experts, and other guests will come together at this time to share their thoughts on how the Church can best re-evangelize an overwhelmingly secular culture.
The working document for the synod, Instrumentum Laboris, was published last week and will serve as the basis for discussion and reflection at the synod. The General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops prepared this document,
…which describes many promising aspects of evangelization reflected in the Church on all five continents. At the same time, it proposes various topics for consideration so that the Church may continue to perform adequately her work of evangelization, while taking into account the many challenges and difficulties of the present moment.
It is heartening to see that our shepherds here on Earth are so committed to bringing in their flock, especially those members who are lost. Let us pray for our bishops, that the Holy Spirit may guide them in the months leading up to the October Synod.