After John Paul’s death, Pope Benedict XVI assumed the duty of advancing the dream of a new evangelization. According to Pope Benedict, religious indifference has plagued countries that have rich Christian heritages. He’s seen the effects of secularism and materialism with his own eyes in his native Germany and other parts of Europe.
Renewing the church in the modern world is not a concept conceived of by Pope Benedict or Pope John Paul II. It was a central theme of the Second Vatican Council 45 years ago, where one of the key documents released by the council fathers was the “Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World.”
This document spoke of the rights of men and women in the political, economic and social order. “Yet these movements must be penetrated by the spirit of the Gospel and protected against any kind of false autonomy,” it stated.
The new evangelization will help the church achieve these objectives, believes Pope Benedict.
For everyday Catholics, new evangelization may sound like a distant concept discussed by popes and bishops, with no connection to their world. But that is not the case.
One concrete example of new evangelization that has touched members of the Green Bay Diocese is Catholics Come Home. This initiative, aimed at welcoming people back to the church, was inspired by the new evangelization movement, according to CCH organizers.
Another example of new evangelization is the U.S. Catholic Catechism for Adults, based on the universal Catechism of the Catholic Church. Bishop David Ricken, another strong advocate of the new evangelization, has made the U.S. Catholic Catechism for Adults a central ingredient of adult faith formation in the diocese. It is now the focus of monthly hour-long classes being attended by members of the diocesan staff. Little did diocesan employees know they were on the front lines of living out the new evangelization.
Pope Benedict also encourages church leaders to embrace new media as a way to promote new evangelization, since these communication avenues are where people today go to find companionship, advice and entertainment.
In the weeks and months ahead, new evangelization will be in the news. Earlier this month, Pope Benedict officially unveiled the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelization. Benedict believes this council can help find new ways to preach the Gospel in the modern world, in ways that resonate with people and “remake the Christian fabric of human society.”
Last Sunday, the pope announced that the 2012 world Synod of Bishops will have as its theme the new evangelization. So if you’ve not heard of the new evangelization, you’ll have many opportunities in the future to learn more about it and experience it.