Pope Benedict to Bishops: Evangelization Not the Work of 'Specialists' but the Whole Catholic Church
In other words, our task, you and me, no matter what our state in life, is to be Christian missionaries
The New Evangelization challenges each one of us to take this call to heart and live differently as a result. This mission will require an authentic renewal of the whole Catholic Church so that she can undertake this new missionary outreach. The consistent teaching at the Council and since has been that the Church is by nature missionary and that every baptized Christian is to participate in that mission. This Pope wants to make sure that we hear this message and respond!
Bishops meet with the Pope in Rome
VATICAN CITY (Catholic Online) - On Thursday, September 20, 2012, Pope Benedict XVI addressed Bishops from five continents who have been appointed during this past year. They were in attendance at a conference organized by the Vatican Congregation for Bishops and the Congregation for the Oriental Churches. His theme; the major theme of his pontificate, the Church exists to evangelize!
The Pope recently challenged all the Lay Faithful to take their critical role in the life of the Church, alongside of the Clergy, and to fully participate in her mission to the world. He chose an address he delivered to the 6th Assembly of the International Catholic Action Forum on August 10, 2012 to call for "ecclesial and social co-responsibility". His address to the New Bishops this week continues this challenging message to the whole Church that we are all involved in the work of evangelizing and missionary activity.
In October of 2012 a Bishops Synod on the "New Evangelization" will be held in Rome and the participating Council Fathers were announced this week. At that Synod, the Pope will inaugurate a "Year of Faith" for the Catholic Church throughout the world. It will also mark the fiftieth anniversary of the Second Vatican Council. Since the Second Vatican Council we have been constantly reminded that the Church is by nature missionary and that every baptized Christian participates in her mission.
This New Evangelization challenges each one of us to take this call to heart and live differently as a result. This mission will require an authentic renewal of the whole Catholic Church so that she can undertake this new missionary outreach. The consistent teaching at the Council and since has been that the Church is by nature missionary and that every baptized Christian is to participate in that mission. This Pope wants to make sure that we hear this message and respond!
In other words, our task, you and me, no matter what our state in life, is to be Christian missionaries - in every nation and to every culture. We are to be ready to share the Good news of who Jesus Christ is - and then lead people to Him through membership in the Church which is His Body. This mission is what lies at the heart of what it means to be a Christian - we carry forward in time the continuing redemptive mission of Jesus Christ.
What is clear to anyone following this Pope is that he is very, very serious about this mission of the Church to evangelize the Nations. He is also keenly aware of the desperate need within the Catholic Church for the faithful to be re-evangelized - and properly catechized - if they are going to bear fruit in this vital work of this New Missionary Age.He is a man on a mission.
Throughout the Pontificate of Blessed John Paul II he spoke of the need for such a re-evangelization of the faithful and coined the phrase "New Evangelization." Pope Benedict XVI has made this New Evangelization a central pillar of his pontificate. He erected a Pontifical Council for the New Evangelization tasked with evangelizing countries where the Gospel was announced centuries ago, but where its presence in peoples' daily life seems to be all but lost.
All of the faithful, men, and women, lay, clergy and religious, in every state and station in life - ALL of the faithful - are members of the Body of Christ and as such called to His mission. As Pope Benedict recently reminded us, we are "Co-Responsible" for the Church. We all need to view ourselves as missionaries. This work of evangelization is not reserved for a group of "professionals", evangelization is the mission of all the Christian faithful.
Below is a Vatican Radio Translation of the Holy Fathers Message to the Bishops
Dear Brothers in the Episcopate,
Your pilgrimage to the tomb of St. Peter for these days of reflection on the Episcopal ministry, takes on particular importance this year. It is the eve of the Year of Faith, of the 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council and of the Thirteenth General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops on the theme: "New Evangelization for the Transmission of the Christian faith." These events, to which the twentieth anniversary of the Catechism of the Catholic Church must be added, are an opportunity to strengthen the faith of which, my dear Brothers, you are teachers and heralds (cf. Lumen Gentium, 25).
I greet you, one by one, and I express my deep gratitude to Cardinal Marc Ouellet, Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, for the words he addressed to me, and Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, Prefect of the Congregation for the Eastern Churches. This gathering together in Rome at the beginning of your Episcopal service, is a propitious occasion for you to concretely experience communication and communion among each other, and, in meeting with the Successor of Peter, ...
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