Pope Asks: How Do we Proclaim the Gospel today? How Can Faith Become a Reality?
If faith does not take on new life, deep conviction and real strength from the encounter with Jesus Christ, then all other reforms will remain ineffective
'The key theme of this year, and of the years ahead, is this: how do we proclaim the Gospel today? How can faith as a living force become a reality today? The ecclesial events of the outgoing year were all ultimately related to this theme. The essence of the crisis of the Church in Europe is the crisis of faith. If we find no answer to this, if faith does not take on new life, deep conviction and real strength from the encounter with Jesus Christ, then all other reforms will remain ineffective.' (Pope Benedict XVI)
Pope Benedict XVI addressing the Roman Curia on December 22, 2011
VATICAN CITY (Catholic Online) - Since he ascended to the Chair of Peter, Pope Benedict XVI has met with Cardinals, Bishops and other the members of the Roman Curia on December 22. This group includes the leaders of Dicasteries and Institutes who work closely with him in his pastoral care of the whole Church. In these addresses he expresses his gratitude, shares what is in his heart, and offers an alaysis of the state of the Church and the world. He also gives a glimpse into his spirituality and theological depth.
This year the Pope gave an honest assessment of the real challenges the Catholic Church faces as she continues the redemptive mission of the Lord whom she serves. He analyzed the World Youth Days and his pastoral visits - all in light of the overarching mission of the necessary "New Evangelization" of the whole Church.
Finally he gave a prophetic analysis of where we are headed as members of the Catholic Church. This is a profound message. Below we offer excerpts. Please, read it and pray for the pope and for the whole Church as we approach the Nativity of the Lord and a vital New Year in a new missionary age for the Catholic Church.
Dear Cardinals, Brother Bishops and Priests,
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
...The key theme of this year, and of the years ahead, is this: how do we proclaim the Gospel today? How can faith as a living force become a reality today? The ecclesial events of the outgoing year were all ultimately related to this theme. There were the journeys to Croatia, to the World Youth Day in Spain, to my home country of Germany, and finally to Africa - Benin - for the consignment of the Post-Synodal document on justice, peace and reconciliation, which should now lead to concrete results in the various local churches...
The establishment of the Pontifical Council for the New Evangelization is at the same time a pointer towards next year's Synod on the same theme. The Year of Faith, commemorating the beginning of the Council fifty years ago, also belongs in this context. Each of these events had its own particular characteristics. In Germany, where the Reformation began, the ecumenical question, with all its trials and hopes, naturally assumed particular importance. Intimately linked to this, at the focal point of the debate, the question that arises repeatedly is this: what is reform of the Church? How does it take place? What are its paths and its goals?
Not only faithful believers but also outside observers are noticing with concern that regular churchgoers are growing older all the time and that their number is constantly diminishing; that recruitment of priests is stagnating; that skepticism and unbelief are growing. What, then, are we to do? There are endless debates over what must be done in order to reverse the trend. There is no doubt that a variety of things need to be done. But action alone fails to resolve the matter.
The essence of the crisis of the Church in Europe is the crisis of faith. If we find no answer to this, if faith does not take on new life, deep conviction and real strength from the encounter with Jesus Christ, then all other reforms will remain ineffective.
On this point, the encounter with Africa's joyful passion for faith brought great encouragement. None of the faith fatigue that is so prevalent here, none of the oft-encountered sense of having had enough of Christianity was detectable there. Amid all the problems, sufferings and trials that Africa clearly experiences, one could still sense the people's joy in being Christian, buoyed up by inner happiness at knowing Christ and belonging to his Church.
From this joy comes also the strength to serve Christ in hard-pressed situations of human suffering, the strength to put oneself at his disposal, without looking round for one's own advantage. Encountering this faith that is so ready to sacrifice and so full of happiness is a powerful remedy against fatigue with Christianity such as we are experiencing in Europe today.
A further remedy against faith fatigue was the wonderful experience of World Youth Day in Madrid. This was new evangelization put into practice. Again and again at World Youth Days, a new, more youthful form of Christianity can be seen, something I would describe under five headings.
1. Firstly, there is a new experience of catholicity, of the Church's universality. This is what struck the young people and all the participants quite directly: we come from every continent, but although we have never met one another, we know one another. We speak different languages, we have different ways of life and different cultural backgrounds, yet we are immediately united as one great family. Outward separation and difference is relativized. We are all moved by the one Lord Jesus Christ, in whom true humanity and at the same time the face of God himself ...
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