Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Deacon Keith Fournier

1/31/2012 (2 years ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

We have had six years of Pope Benedict XVI and it appears to this Deacon that he is leading the Catholic Church into a New Missionary Age

"The mission ad gentes (to the gentiles, or unbelievers) should be, also today, the constant horizon and paradigm of every ecclesial activity, because the very identity of the Church is constituted by faith in the Mystery of God, who revealed himself in Christ to bring us salvation, and by the mission to witness and proclaim him to the world, until his return. Like St. Paul, we should care for those who are far away, those who still do not know Christ and have not experienced God's paternity."

Pope Benedict XVI bowing before an Icon of Jesus Christ

Pope Benedict XVI bowing before an Icon of Jesus Christ

Highlights

By Deacon Keith Fournier

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

1/31/2012 (2 years ago)

Published in Europe

Keywords: Mission, missionary, new evangelization, evangelism, Pontifical Council, Pope Benedict XVI, Mission Sunday, Deacon Keith Fournier


VATICAN CITY (Catholic Online) - Shortly after Pope Benedict XVI's election I wrote an article quoting from Alisdair MacIntyre's book "After Virtue": "It is always dangerous to draw too precise parallels between one historical period and another; and among the most misleading of such parallels are those which have been drawn between our own age in Europe and North America and the Epoch in which the Roman Empire declined into the Dark Ages.

"Nonetheless, certain parallels there are. A crucial turning point in that earlier history occurred when men and women of good will turned aside from the task of shoring up the Roman Imperium and ceased to identify the continuation of civility and moral community with the maintenance of the Imperium.

"What they set themselves to achieve instead- often not recognizing fully what they were doing- was the construction of new forms of community within which the moral life could be sustained so that both morality and civility might survive the coming ages of barbarism and darkness. If my account of our moral condition is correct, we ought also to conclude that for some time now we too have reached that turning point...

"...This time however, the barbarians are not waiting beyond the frontiers; they have already been governing us for quite some time. And it is our lack of consciousness of this that constitutes part of our predicament. We are waiting not for a Godot, but for another-doubtless very different- St. Benedict."

I suggested that "another Benedict" was here in the person of Pope Benedict XVI. I am more convinced of it now. I suggested back then, "This will be a pontificate that emphasizes and vigorously contends for the truth; one that recognizes the loss of the soul of contemporary culture and proclaims the ever fresh yet ancient truths of classical Christianity to an emerging new paganism. This will be a prophetic as well as a pastoral Papacy. We will witness a resurgence of Christianity that is rightly "orthodox" in both faith and practice.

"Because of that, many will try to "claim" Benedict. Some, pining for the past, will watch for what they hope will be a return to some perceived pre-conciliar "purity." Others will try to squeeze the clarity of his commitment to the dignity and sanctity of every human life, his unwavering insistence on the unchangeable truth concerning marriage and family, and his love for human freedom into their particular political mold.

"However, he will not fit any political mold. He will not lead the Church backwards but rather forward to a future of hope and into a true and desperately needed reform. Under his leadership we will see new forms of Christian life and community emerging in an analogous way to what happened to the world at the time of St. Benedict."

"From those Benedictine monasteries, an entire monastic movement was birthed which led to the evangelization of Europe and the emergence of an authentically Christian culture. This led to the birth and flourishing of the academy, the arts and the emergence of what later became known as Christendom. One of the greatest hopes of Pope John Paul II, and of Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger- now Pope Benedict, was for Europe to rediscover her Christian roots as it did at the time of St Benedict. Now we have "another Benedict" to lead the recovery and reform."

I continued "Pope Benedict XVI will surprise many, particularly in the area of ecumenism, reaching to heal the divide between eastern and western Christianity so that the "two lungs" of the full Christian Church can breathe together again and animate the entire Church so that she can become again the soul of the world. ...

"We will witness the beginnings of the coming full communion of the Church during his pontificate. We will witness the recovery of the authentically Catholic academy through the rebuilding of some institutions almost lost to the Church and the building of new ones. We will see the flourishing of good, solid theological and philosophical work alongside of a flourishing of the arts and human culture, led by the Church, as it has been in ages past. He will be like his namesake and help to bring the Christian influence back to Europe and beyond."

I believe all of this - and much more - has resulted from the pontificate of Pope Benedict XVI. He turned 84 years old on April 16, 2011. Some early observers indicated his age would make him some sort of caretaker Pope. His pace has demonstrated the observers were wrong. He has proven to be an indefatigable and tireless missionary of a Pope.

He has continued the pastoral visits of his predecessor with amazingly fruitful travels around the world. The youth of the world still flock to World Youth days and his genuine love for them - and they for him - is evident. He has pastorally and decisively dealt with serious matters concerning the need for a purification of the Church. 

He is exactly what he told us when he began his service, a "simple, humble worker in the vineyard of the Lord" Notice how little fanfare accompanied his birthday as well as this six year anniversary of his election. Clearly, to this successor of Peter, it is not about him, but about the Lord whom he serves. His diminutive size and humble manner reveal the holy heart of this man totally given over to the Lord.

He has written three encyclicals, three apostolic exhortations and two books about Jesus of Nazareth. He is a scholar of the highest order, yet able to communicate with simplicity and beauty because he is a man of deep prayer. He has given continual teaching to the faithful - including some of the finest hagiography in centuries - during his Wednesday Catechesis.

He made Church history, when Motu Propio, on his own authority, he released of the Apostolic Constitution on Groups of Anglicans which has begun the healing of the divided Western Church. Two Ordinariates have already been formed and more will follow. The fruits of these Ordinariates will be recounted by future historians as among the most important events in the Third Millennium of the Church.

He has earned the great respect of Patriarchs and leaders of the Orthodox Church and is making progress toward some form of communion between Eastern and Western Christianity which could make the Third Millennium a millennium of communion.

He has championed the re-christianizing of Europe and passionately promoted the New Evangelization of the Church - even establishing a new Pontifical Council on the New Evangelization. He has been a champion of the New Ecclesial movements and helped to ensure that they are rooted in the heart of the Church and received as gift for the missionary work of the Church in this hour.

He has doggedly defended the Christian roots of the West and defended religious freedom as a fundamental human right. He has engaged the Islamic world with great charity and courage on the ground of dialogue in truth. He began the "Courts of the Gentiles" outreach engaging atheists and agnostics. Clearly, this is a missionary Pope.

And, it looks like he is just getting warmed up.  We have had six years of Pope Benedict XVI and it appears to this Deacon that he is leading the Catholic Church into a New Missionary Age. Indeed, another Benedict is here, and the Church is truly blessed to have him at the helm of the Barque of Peter as she sails into the Third Christian Millennium.

Here are some excerpts from the Pope's message for World Mission Day which was recently released by the Vatican Press Office. The Day will be celebrated on Oct. 21 and the full text can be read here.

*****

"Called to Make the Word of Truth Shine" (Apostolic Letter Porta fidei, 6)

The celebration of World Mission Day has an altogether particular meaning this year. The observance of the 50th anniversary of the Conciliar Decree Ad gentes, the opening of the Year of Faith and the Synod of Bishops on the subject of the New Evangelization concur in reaffirming the will of the Church to commit herself with greater boldness and ardor in the mission ad gentes, so that the Gospel will reach the ends of the earth.

The mandate to preach the Gospel is not exhausted, therefore, by a Pastor in caring for that portion of the People of God entrusted to his pastoral care, or in the sending of a fidei donum priest, layman or laywoman. It should involve the whole activity of the particular Church, all her sectors, in short, all her being and action. Vatican II indicated this clearly and the successive Magisterium confirmed it forcefully.

This requires the constant adaptation of lifestyles, pastoral plans and diocesan organization to this fundamental dimension of being Church, especially in our world in constant change. And this is also true for the Institutes of Consecrated Life and the Societies of Apostolic Life, as well as for the Ecclesial Movements: all the components of the great mosaic of the Church must feel strongly drawn in by the Lord's mandate to preach the Gospel, so that Christ is proclaimed everywhere.

We, Pastors, men and women religious and all the faithful in Christ, must follow in the footsteps of the Apostle Paul, who, "a prisoner for Christ on behalf of you Gentiles" (Ephesians 3:1), worked, suffered and fought to have the Gospel reach the Gentiles (cf. Ephesians 1:24-29), not sparing energy, time and means to make Christ's Message known.

The mission ad gentes (to the gentiles, or unbelievers) should be, also today, the constant horizon and paradigm of every ecclesial activity, because the very identity of the Church is constituted by faith in the Mystery of God, who revealed himself in Christ to bring us salvation, and by the mission to witness and proclaim him to the world, until his return.

Like St. Paul, we should care for those who are far away, those who still do not know Christ and have not experienced God's paternity, in the awareness that "the missionary cooperation must be extended today to new forms including not only economic aid but also direct participation in evangelization" (John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Redemptoris missio, 82). The celebration of the Year of Faith and of the Synod of Bishops on the New Evangelization will be propitious occasions to re-launch missionary cooperation, especially in this latter dimension.

Dear brothers and sisters, I invoke upon the work of evangelization ad gentes, and in particular upon its workers, the effusion of the Holy Spirit, so that the Grace of God will make it advance more decisively in the history of the world. With Blessed John Henry Newman, I would like to pray: "O Lord, accompany your missionaries in the lands of evangelization, put the right words on their lips, make their toil fruitful." May the Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church and Star of Evangelization, accompany all missionaries of the Gospel."

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


© 2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for July 2014
Sports:
That sports may always be occasions of human fraternity and growth.
Lay Missionaries: That the Holy Spirit may support the work of the laity who proclaim the Gospel in the poorest countries.



Comments


More Europe

Spiritual Ecumenism: Pope Francis Visits Evangelical/Pentecostal Church in Caserta Italy Watch

Image of Pope Francis took a trip to Caserta, Italy on Monday, June 28, 2014. He visited with a friend named Giovanni Traettino who pastors an evangelical, charismatic/Pentecostal protestant Church.

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

Pope Francis took a trip to Caserta, Italy on Monday, June 28, 2014. He visited with a friend named Giovanni Traettino who pastors an evangelical, charismatic/Pentecostal protestant Church. This friend of Francis oversees the growing evangelical Church of the ... continue reading


France grants asylum to Iraqi Christians as U.S. rebuked for 'silence' Watch

Image of Representative Frank Wolf (R-Va.) said on the House floor,

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

As the genocide of Iraqi Christians continues, the French government now says it is willing to grant asylum to Iraqi Christians. "We are assisting displaced persons who are fleeing the Islamic State's threats and seeking refuge in Kurdistan," Foreign Minister ... continue reading


He Went to Find Brothers: Message of Pope Francis to Evangelical/Pentecostal Brother John and the Church at Caserta Watch

Image of The welcome given to the Pope by the members of this evangelical/pentecostal protestant community of Christians was beautiful, respectful and loving. The way in which the entire encounter proceeded is a sign of where we are being challenged to live our own Christian lives. The message of Pope Francis at Caserta is clear and convincing. He went to find brothers, and sisters. So should we!  Authentic ecumenical efforts are a part of being a Catholic Christian.

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

The Pope addressed several hundred members of the Church of the Reconciliation who had gathered for this historic visit. He and his friend, a protestant pentecostal/evangelical pastor named John, stood together under an overhang which bore the words "Jesus is ... continue reading


Spanish priest packs them into church - by dancing the flamenco Watch

Image of Father Pepe danced in front of the late Pope John Paul II at the Vatican in 1997. He says w he will retire this coming September.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Jose Planas Moreno, known as "Father Pepe," has revived interest in his church in Malaga, Spain. The priest has brought parishioners flocking back to the Nuestra SeƱora Del Carmen church in Campanilla, a district of Malaga, with his unusual style of worship. ... continue reading


LUNCH SURPRISE: Pope Francis eats with Vatican employees in surprise visit Watch

Image of The Pope spent about an hour dining at a table with around 10 other people.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A "lunch surprise" usually means an item that's not on the menu offered at a lower price. At the Vatican, employees got quite a "lunch surprise" on Friday when their "boss" and bishop, Pope Francis, turned up at their cafeteria. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) ... continue reading


Stop! I am asking you with all my heart. Stop! - Pope Urges End to Wars in Ukraine, Iraq and Gaza

Image of Brothers and sisters: never war.My thoughts go especially to the children, from whom we take away the hope for a decent life: dead children, injured children, maimed children, orphaned children, children who have war relics for toys, children who do not know how to smile.- Pope Francis

By Asia News

He mentions children, victims of war, "from whom we take away the hope for a decent life," urging the parties to address "every diatribe with the tenacity of dialogue and negotiation and the power of reconciliation". As tomorrow marks 100 years since the outbreak ... continue reading


Meriam Ibraham is Free! The Living God Has Heard the Cry of His People! Jesus Christ is Lord! Watch

Image of Meriam receives the blessing and the gratitude of the successor of Peter, Francis.- What should be front and center in every Christian news report on this remarkable story is that God intervened on behalf of Meriam and her family. The God whom we profess is real and His power is greater than any regime or any form of opposition. Yes, He used men and women, and even government leaders, to accomplish His deliverance. He often does. But it was His Love and Mercy which broke the shackles of evil. He deserves all the praise.

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

The photo of Pope Francis blessing Meriam Ibrahim and her little daughter Maya in the Casa Santa Marta on Thursday, July 24, 2014, reciving a blessing from a smiling Pope Francis, made millions of hearts leap for joy. The God of love answers the prayers of His ... continue reading


'A negative act necessarily must be condemned:' Vatican revising law on abuse penalties Watch

Image of

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

In regards to canonical law regarding acts of sexual misconduct, according to law ended up being too vague, Bishop Juan Ignacio Arrieta says, church sanctions were being applied so haphazardly that the church appeared to be divided. In response, the Vatican is ... continue reading


VILE: Somali girl smuggled into United Kingdom for organ harvesting Watch

Image of In perhaps the most horrific recent case, law enforcement learned that a Somali girl had been brought to England for the express purpose of harvesting her organs for transplant.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

There has been a noticeable uptick of cases of human trafficking in the United Kingdom. In perhaps the most horrific recent case, law enforcement learned that a Somali girl had been brought to England for the express purpose of harvesting her organs for ... continue reading


HORRIFIC ABUSE: 18-year-old girl coerced into group sex while being recorded on cell phone Watch

Image of The incident is being called an example of

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

An 18-year-old girl performed explicit sex acts on 24 men on a dance floor with the promise of a holiday - which never arrived. Presented with a mixed drink for her acts of indecency, the sordid episode was recorded on a cell phone camera - for the world to ... continue reading


All Europe News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Jeremiah 26:1-9
1 At the beginning of the reign of Jehoiakim son of ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 69:6, 8-10, 14
6 Those who hope in you must not be made fools of, ... Read More

Gospel, Matthew 13:54-58
54 and, coming to his home town, he taught the people ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for August 1st, 2014 Image

St. Alphonsus Marie Liguori
August 1: Bishop, Doctor of the Church, and the founder of the ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter