working document that will guide the deliberations of the 2012 synod of bishops on the New Evangelization has been unveiled.
“The purpose of the new evangelization is the transmission of the Christian faith, the urgent task of transmitting to new generations the Gospel of Jesus Christ,” said Archbishop Nikola Eterovic, Secretary General of the Synod of Bishops, at a June 19 press conference.
The 13th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops will bring bishops from all over the world to Rome from October 7-28 to discuss the theme of “The New Evangelization for the Transmission of the Christian Faith.” The gathering coincides with the launch of Pope Benedict’s Year of Faith, which will begin on October 11.
Archbishop Eterovic explained that the working document or “Instrumentum laboris” consists of a preface, introduction, four chapters and a conclusion, which are the fruit of consultations with the worldwide Church for over a year.
Archbishop Eterovic said he hopes the synod would be “an opportunity to discuss and compare points of view and practical experiences” of evangelization.
He then walked through the document and provided a brief explanation of each section to the press.
The introduction beings the text by summarizing the consensus of bishops from across the globe on the need “for new tools and new forms of expression to make the Word of God more understandable in the life of modern man.”
The first chapter is entitled “Jesus Christ the Good News of God to Humanity,” and aims to explain “the central nucleus of Christian faith, of which many people are unaware, and presents the Gospel of Jesus Christ as the Good News for modern man.”
It aims to outline why the new evangelization is not “a weary response to the crisis of faith and the challenges facing the Church in the modern world” but an appeal to “men and women of good will” to embrace the “depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of the mystery of God revealed in Jesus Christ.”
The second chapter carries the title “Time for a New Evangelization” and, Archbishop Eterovic said, works to facilitate discussion on what the New Evangelization actually is and the challenges it faces today.
“The new challenges to evangelization in the contemporary world are described in various different scenarios,” he explained.
“A measure of evangelical creativity and boldness” will be required, he said, if the new evangelization is to renew “the ordinary pastoral activity of particular Churches” while also reaching out to lapsed and non-Catholics.
Chapter three deals with “Transmitting the Faith” and outlines the need for personal holiness on the part of Catholics.
Archbishop Eterovic noted how a “faith lived passively or privately, a refusal to be educated in one’s faith, a separation between life and faith” can repel others from Catholicism, while pressures from outside the Church such as “secularization, nihilism consumerism, hedonism” can also have the same effect.
He hopes that the Year of Faith will be “a pressing appeal to conversion so that, transformed by grace, each individual Christian and each community may produce abundant fruits.”
The fourth and final chapter is entitled “Revivifying Pastoral Activity” and focuses on “the first proclamation (of the Gospel), Christian initiation and education – while seeking to adapt them to current cultural and social circumstances.”
These discussions will also include a “better understand the sequence of the Sacraments of Christian initiation, which culminates in the Eucharist,” he said.