Evangelization in the Modern World
2. The Church ...has had the single aim ...being the messenger of the Good News of Jesus Christ ...proclaimed through two fundamental commands: "Put on the new self" and "Be reconciled to God."
4. This fidelity both to a message whose servants we are and to the people to whom we must transmit it living and intact is the central axis of evangelization. It poses ...burning questions: - In our day, what has happened to that hidden energy of the Good News, which is able to have a powerful effect on man's conscience?
5. ...the presentation of the Gospel message is not an optional contribution for the Church. It is the duty incumbent on her by the command of the Lord Jesus, so that people can believe and be saved.
8. As an evangelizer, Christ first of all proclaims a kingdom, the kingdom of God; and this is so important that, by comparison, everything else becomes "the rest," which is "given in addition." Only the kingdom therefore is absolute and it makes everything else relative.
9. As the kernel and center of His Good News, Christ proclaims salvation, this great gift of God which is liberation from everything that oppresses man but which is above all liberation from sin and the Evil One.
10. This kingdom and this salvation, which are the key words of Jesus Christ's evangelization, are available to every human being as grace and mercy, and yet at the same time each individual must gain them by force - they belong to the violent, says the Lord, through toil and suffering, through a life lived according to the Gospel, through abnegation and the cross, through the spirit of the beatitudes. But above all each individual gains them through a total interior renewal which the Gospel calls metanoia; it is a radical conversion, a profound change of mind and heart.
13. Those who sincerely accept the Good News, through the power of this acceptance and of shared faith therefore gather together in Jesus' name in order to seek together the kingdom, build it up and live it.
14. Evangelizing is in fact the grace and vocation proper to the Church, her deepest identity. She exists in order to evangelize, that is to say, in order to preach and teach, to be the channel of the gift of grace, to reconcile sinners with God, and to perpetuate Christ's sacrifice in the Mass, which is the memorial of His death and glorious resurrection.
17. In the Church's evangelizing activity there are of course certain elements and aspects to be specially insisted on. Some of them are so important that there will be a tendency simply to identify them with evangelization. Thus it has been possible to define evangelization in terms of proclaiming Christ to those who do not know Him, of preaching, of catechesis, of conferring Baptism and the other sacraments.
18. For the Church, evangelizing means bringing the Good News into all the strata of humanity, and through its influence transforming humanity from within and making it new: "Now I am making the whole of creation new." But there is no new humanity if there are not first of all new persons renewed by Baptism and by lives lived according to the Gospel. The purpose of evangelization is therefore precisely this interior change, and if it had to be expressed in one sentence the best way of stating it would be to say that the Church evangelizes when she seeks to convert ...both the personal and collective consciences of people, the activities in which they engage, and the lives and concrete milieu which are theirs.
20. The split between the Gospel and culture is without a doubt the drama of our time, just as it was of other times. Therefore every effort must be made to ensure a full evangelization of culture, or more correctly of cultures. They have to be regenerated by an encounter with the Gospel. But this encounter will not take place if the Gospel is not proclaimed.
22. There is no true evangelization if the name, the teaching, the life, the promises, the kingdom and the mystery of Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of God are not proclaimed. The history of the Church, from the discourse of Peter on the morning of Pentecost onwards, has been intermingled and identified with the history of this proclamation. At every new phase of human history, the Church, constantly gripped by the desire to evangelize, has but one preoccupation: whom to send to proclaim the mystery of Jesus? In what way is this mystery to be proclaimed? How can one ensure that it will resound and reach all those who should hear it? This proclamation - kerygma, preaching or catechesis - occupies such an important place in evangelization that it has often become synonymous with it; and yet it is only one aspect of evangelization.
23. An adherence to the truths which the Lord in His mercy has revealed; still more, an adherence to a program of life ...In a word, adherence to the kingdom, that is to say, to the "new world," to the new state of things, to the new manner of being, of living, of living in community, which the Gospel inaugurates. Such an adherence, which cannot remain abstract and unincarnated, reveals itself concretely by a visible entry into a community of believers. Thus those whose life has been transformed enter a community which is itself a sign of transformation, a sign of newness of life: it is the Church, the visible sacrament of salvation. ...In the dynamism of evangelization, a person who accepts the Church as the Word which saves normally translates it into the following sacramental acts: adherence to the Church, and acceptance of the sacraments, which manifest and support this adherence through the grace which they confer.
27. Evangelization will also always contain - as the foundation, center, and at the same time, summit of its dynamism - a clear proclamation that, in Jesus Christ, the Son of God made man, who died and rose from the dead, salvation is offered to all men, as a gift of God's grace and mercy. And not an immanent salvation, meeting material or even spiritual needs, restricted to the framework of temporal existence and completely identified with temporal desires, hopes, affairs and struggles, but a salvation which exceeds all these limits in order to reach fulfillment in a communion with the one and only divine Absolute: a transcendent and eschatological salvation, which indeed has its beginning in this life but which is fulfilled in eternity.
28. To live the sacraments ...is not ...to impede or to accept a distortion of evangelization: it is rather to complete it. For in its totality, evangelization - over and above the preaching of a message - consists in the implantation of the Church, which does not exist without the driving force which is the sacramental life culminating in the Eucharist.
34. Hence, when preaching liberation and associating herself with those who are working and suffering for it, the Church is certainly not willing to restrict her mission only to the religious field and dissociate herself from man's temporal problems. Nevertheless she reaffirms the primacy of her spiritual vocation and refuses to replace the proclamation of the kingdom by the proclamation of forms of human liberation- she even states that her contribution to liberation is incomplete if she neglects to proclaim salvation in Jesus Christ.
41. It is therefore primarily by her conduct and by her life that the Church will evangelize the world, in other words, by her living witness of fidelity to the Lord Jesus- the witness of poverty and detachment, of freedom in the face of the powers of this world, in short, the witness of sanctity.
43. [P]reaching, inserted in a unique way into the Eucharistic celebration ...[should be] clear, direct, well-adapted, profoundly dependent on Gospel teaching and faithful to the magisterium, animated by a balanced apostolic ardour coming from its own characteristic nature, full of hope, fostering belief, and productive of peace and unity.
44. A means of evangelization that must not be neglected is that of catechetical instruction.
46. [S]ide by side with the collective proclamation of the Gospel, the other form of transmission, the person-to-person one, remains valid and important. The Lord often used it (for example, with Nicodemus, Zacchaeus, the Samaritan woman, Simon the Pharisee), and so did the apostles. In the long run, is there any other way of handing on the Gospel than by transmitting to another person one's personal experience of faith?
47. Yet, one can never sufficiently stress the fact that evangelization does not consist only of the preaching and teaching of a doctrine. For evangelization must touch life: the natural life to which it gives a new meaning, thanks to the evangelical perspectives that it reveals; and the supernatural life, which is not the negation but the purification and elevation of the natural life.
This supernatural life finds its living expression in the seven sacraments and in the admirable radiation of grace and holiness which they possess.
Evangelization thus exercises its full capacity when it achieves the most intimate relationship, or better still, a permanent and unbroken intercommunication, between the Word and the sacraments. In a certain sense it is a mistake to make a contrast between evangelization and sacramentalization, as is sometimes done. It is indeed true that a certain way of administering the sacraments, without the solid support of catechesis regarding these same sacraments and a global catechesis, could end up by depriving them of their effectiveness to a great extent. The role of evangelization is precisely to educate people in the faith in such a way as to lead each individual Christian to live the sacraments as true sacraments of faith- and not to receive them passively or reluctantly.
59. But who then has the mission of evangelizing?
The Second Vatican Council gave a clear reply to this question: it is upon the Church that "there rests, by divine mandate, the duty of going out into the whole world and preaching the gospel to every creature." And in another text: "...the whole Church is missionary, and the work of evangelization is a basic duty of the People of God.
60. The observation that the Church has been sent out and given a mandate to evangelize the world should awaken in us two convictions.
The first is this: evangelization is for no one an individual and isolated act; it is one that is deeply ecclesial. When the most obscure preacher, catechist or pastor in the most distant land preaches the Gospel, gathers his little community together or administers a sacrament, even alone, he is carrying out an ecclesial act, and his action is certainly attached to the evangelizing activity of the whole Church by institutional relationships, but also by profound invisible links in the order of grace. This presupposes that he acts not in virtue of a mission which he attributes to himself or by a personal inspiration, but in union with the mission of the Church and in her name.
From this flows the second conviction: if each individual evangelizes in the name of the Church, who herself does so by virtue of a mandate from the Lord, no evangelizer is the absolute master of his evangelizing action, with a discretionary power to carry it out in accordance with individualistic criteria and perspectives; he acts in communion with the Church and her pastors.
68. In union with the Successor of Peter, the bishops, who are successors of the apostles, receive through the power of their episcopal ordination the authority to teach the revealed truth in the Church. They are teachers of the faith.
Associated with the bishops in the ministry of evangelization and responsible by a special title are those who through priestly ordination "act in the person of Christ." They are educators of the People of God in the faith and preachers, while at the same time being ministers of the Eucharist and of the other sacraments.
70. Lay people, whose particular vocation places them in the midst of the world and in charge of the most varied temporal tasks, must for this very reason exercise a very special form of evangelization.
Their primary and immediate task is not to establish and develop the ecclesial community- this is the specific role of the pastors- but to put to use every Christian and evangelical possibility latent but already present and active in the affairs of the world. Their own field of evangelizing activity is the vast and complicated world of politics, society and economics, but also the world of culture, of the sciences and the arts, of international life, of the mass media.
73. Hence the active presence of the laity in the temporal realities takes on all its importance. One cannot, however, neglect or forget the other dimension: the laity can also feel themselves called, or be called, to work with their pastors in the service of the ecclesial community for its growth and life, by exercising a great variety of ministries according to the grace and charisms which the Lord is pleased to give them.
75. Evangelization will never be possible without the action of the Holy Spirit.
It must be said that the Holy Spirit is the principal agent of evangelization: it is He who impels each individual to proclaim the Gospel, and it is He who in the depths of consciences causes the word of salvation to be accepted and understood.
79. The work of evangelization presupposes in the evangelizer an ever-increasing love for those whom he is evangelizing.
82. This is the desire that we rejoice to entrust to the hands and the heart of the Immaculate Blessed Virgin Mary, on this day which is especially consecrated to her and which is also the tenth anniversary of the close of the Second Vatican Council. On the morning of Pentecost she watched over with her prayer the beginning of evangelization prompted by the Holy Spirit: may she be the Star of the evangelization ever renewed which the Church, docile to her Lord's command, must promote and accomplish, especially in these times which are difficult but full of hope!
In light of the new legislation to force WA Catholic priests to report child sexual abuse, I am prepared to go to prison if reporting required breaking the sacramental seal of Penance/Reconciliation/Confession.
The reason is simple, “We must obey God rather than human beings!” (Acts 5:29). Admittedly this answer is unreflected and instinctual. One could offer other contrary proof texts such as, “for the Lord’s sake accept the authority of every human institution” (1 Peter 2:13).
Although I would not consider breaking the seal of the Sacrament due to obedience to God, a second consideration may be that the integrity of the Sacrament of Penance would be destroyed.
I don’t go to confession to have my sins broadcast to others. Rather I know that the Sacrament is an encounter between myself and my God. This sacred encounter with the God of mercy is an intimate and private affair in which my deepest, darkest actions and intentions are revealed. It would be a very slippery slope if there was no safe haven for human beings to reveal themselves in complete vulnerability and in complete confidence. More so when those people are seeking more than absolution; meaning that they are truly penitent and wanting to amend their lives.
The last reason that no priest would break the seal of Reconciliation is that the priest would automatically be excommunicated. Canon law states: “A confessor who directly violates the sacramental seal incurs a latae sententiae excommunication reserved to the Apostolic See; one who does so only indirectly is to be punished according to the gravity of the delict” (Can. 1388 §1.).
In conclusion, the “sacramental seal is inviolable; therefore it is absolutely forbidden for a confessor to betray in any way a penitent in words or in any manner and for any reason” (Can. 983 §1.). And, as they say in Italy, punto e basta!
May 22, 2019 — Two cardinals and one bishop have publicly called upon Pope Francis to clarify several of his statements, actions, and public documents in the past few weeks.
Cardinal Gerhard Müller asked Pope Francis to respond to the April 30 Open Letterto the Church's bishops accusing Pope Francis of heretical teachings, as well as to clarify some of the “re-formulations of the Church’s teachings” as they are to be found in Amoris Laetitia. Cardinal Willem Eijk has repeatedly asked Pope Francis to clarify Amoris Laetitia, as well as his permitting the German bishops to allow Communion for Protestant spouses. And Bishop Athanasius Schneider has called upon Pope Francis publicly and authoritatively to correct the February 4, 2019 Abu Dhabi declaration, which flatly states that the “diversity of religions” is “willed by God.”
These three high-ranking interventions and pleas to the pope for doctrinal clarity come in the form of a fraternal correction, which should be honorably answered by Pope Francis.
Just as clergy and lay theologians have asked bishops to confront Pope Francis with some of his statements and actions that appear to undermine the Catholic Faith, these three prelates — none of whom openly supports the April 30 Open Letter — have just effected something like a fraternal critique in public.
On May 15, LifeSiteNews’s Jeanne Smits published a lengthy interview with Cardinal Willem Eijk of Utrecht, Netherlands. Eijk had earlier contributed to the Eleven Cardinals Book, which tried, before the 2015 Synod on the Family, to reaffirm the Church’s full teaching on marriage.
Asked about his 2018 call upon Pope Francis to clarify the question of Communion for “remarried” divorcés, as it has now been already implemented by several bishops’ conferences, Cardinal Eijk now reiterates his request. After explaining the doctrinal and pastoral confusion that developed in the Church after the publication of Amoris Laetitia, especially “on the basis of a few elements and a footnote,” he says: “I think that the pope must therefore create clarity, in terms of doctrine, by means of a declaration that can be said with certainty to belong to the Magisterium.”
Cardinal Eijk had also, in 2018, called upon Pope Francis to make a clarifying statement concerning the question of Communion for Protestant spouses of Catholics, after the German bishops had published, with papal permission, a handout setting forth the possibility thereof. Here, Cardinal Eijk says: “Following this German concept document on intercommunion, and because of this explicit plea by cardinals in favor of the blessing of homosexual relationships, I asked the Pope to create clarity, quite simply by recalling [for us] the documents of the Church’s magisterium.”
One day after Cardinal Eijk’s words, Cardinal Gerhard Müller, the former head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, gave an interview to the German Catholic newspaper Die Tagespost in which he commented upon the recent Open Letter to Bishops. He first states that he does not believe that Pope Francis is a heretic, but then he adds that he understands “the concerns of these theologians” who wrote the Open Letter. He even called them “renowned theologians.”
Therefore, he says, “it would be important that the Holy Father make the Congregation for the Faith issue a response, and not the Secretary of State nor any of his friendly journalists or theologians.”
“As much as one can understand the concerns of these theologians [who criticize the pope], one also has to say that one has to choose the right means for the justified aim of a greater clarity of some statements of Pope Francis,” he states.
Later in this May 16 interview, Cardinal Müller also explains that he “defended” Amoris Laetitia, “but I consider some re-formulations of the Church’s teaching to be in need of clarification.”
Thus, Cardinal Müller calls upon Pope Francis to clarify his teachings on marriage and the family as laid down in Amoris Laetitia.
On the same day as Cardinal Müller’s interview, Bishop Athanasius Schneider, the auxiliary bishop of Astana, Kazakhstan, spoke with EWTN’s Raymond Arroyo.
In this May 16 interview, Schneider distances himself from the Open Letter to Bishops, saying the letter “went too far.” At the same time, he makes it clear that Pope Francis needs to make a correction to his controversial joint Abu Dhabi statement, which claims that the “diversity of religions” is “willed by God.”
“Regarding the diversity of religions,” Schneider states, “on the contrary, God explicitly said that the diversity of religions is in itself bad and contradicts His divine wisdom and will. Diversity of religious moreover offends God.” Therefore, “a public correction is very much needed, because as the phrase reads in itself it is ambiguous — not only ambiguous; it is wrong.”
Thus, we now have three eminent prelates who call upon Pope Francis to clarify or to correct his teachings on various important matters of faith and morals.
If he wishes to assure the Catholic faithful that his intent is to preserve and defend the Catholic Faith in its entirety, he surely will be quick to respond to such fraternal and charitable calls coming from his fellow bishops who have the mission to assist him to fulfill his mandate.
The longer he (as with the famous dubia) delays giving a response, the more he is going to foster confusion and confirm the impression that he, perhaps by indirection, desires to promote or favor heretical teachings and practices in the very heart of the Catholic Church.
Today we celebration the Ascension of the Lord, when Jesus was taken to heaven on the 40th day after Easter. Before he left, Jesus instructed his Apostles that true discipleship is neither shaped by His physical presence, nor his physical absence.
Two things are happening. Through the sending of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, Jesus would be present to his disciples through the power of the Spirit who would guide them interiorly and spiritually through His gifts. Second, Jesus is still present in the Holy Eucharist.
In a beautiful message from Mother Mary we are told that “as Jesus is truly in Heaven, so also is He truly present on earth in the Eucharist: with his Body, his Blood, his Soul and his Divinity.” That makes this place of worship a very special place. We can come to visit and be with Jesus in the church and he is truly present here, just like he is in heaven.
Also, we understand how special it is to receive Jesus’ Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity at communion! Because of these two reasons, Mother Mary says that this church –because of Jesus present in the Tabernacle– should be “once again be the heart and centre of [our] whole life.” I love coming here to be with Jesus.
And Our Lady asks priests to “Help everyone to approach the Eucharistic Jesus in a worthy manner, by cultivating in [you]/the faithful an awareness of sin, by inviting you to present yourselves for the sacrament of Holy Communion in the state of grace, by educating you in the practice of frequent confession, which becomes necessary before receiving the Eucharist for those who are in mortal sin.” And this goes for me too! If I do something wrong, I go to confession before communing with Jesus.
Our Holy Mother laments that, “The Church is deeply wounded by the multiplication of sacrilegious Communions!” Poor Mother Mary and poor Jesus who still gives himself to those who don’t truly love him. Let us do better than that so we don’t make Jesus or Mary sad.
Rather today, as we celebrate Jesus Ascending into heaven, let us not be sad. In fact, let us rejoice: “as Jesus is truly in Heaven, so also is He truly present on earth in the Eucharist” in every Catholic church in every nation. What a beautiful mystery, and soon those who are properly disposed are about to receive him in the Eucharist.
May 17, 2019 – A plan to restructure the Vatican recently approved by Pope Francis’ Council of Cardinal Advisers has come under fire from Cardinal Gerhard Müller, Francis’ former doctrine chief, who says that it is “absurd” for prioritizing the Secretariat of State and the practice of “evangelization” above the Catholic faith itself. Müller also wonders if the plan is not based on “Marxist” ideology.
“In this preparation of the so-called reform of the Curia they are lowering the priority of the faith,” Müller told the Spanish news service Infovaticana in a recent interview. “First comes the Secretariat of State, which says that the Secretariat of State, with its relations with States, diplomacy and Vatican bureaucracy, is more linked to the Pope's supreme mission than the doctrine of faith. This is absurd. Those are mundane, secular chores. The spiritual mission comes from Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ has not constituted the Vatican State with its head, and this head with his state governs the Church. It's absurd.”
“The truth is the opposite. The Secretariat of State is only an aid to guarantee the independence, the freedom of the pope against the influence of politicians. But it is not the essence of the Petrine ministry. And how can it be said, among the dicasteries, that first comes that of evangelization and then faith and the doctrine of faith? Evangelization is praxis and faith is theory. What concept of theory and praxis do they have? The Marxist system?” said Müller.
“Faith is the origin, the root of justification. Only through faith in Jesus Christ are we saved. Without faith, no one can please God. Faith is an infused virtue. The first gift of the Holy Spirit to us is faith and hope, love. You can't say faith is just a theory,” he added.
Müller’s critique of the proposed curial reform not only takes Pope Francis and his Cardinal of Council Advisers to task, but also popes Paul VI and John Paul II, whose curial reforms also placed the Secretariat of State in a position of influence greater than the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), listing it first among the curial bodies and making the Secretary of State into the personal assistant of the pope. Prior to the reform of Paul VI, the CDF (then known as the Holy Office) was the most influential of all the dicasteries and was led by the Pope himself as prefect.
However, the new proposed reform will place the CDF, which Müller led until 2017, at an even lower position in the order of priority of the Holy See’s dicasteries, now below a new “super-dicastery” devoted to what will be called “evangelization.” Müller is blasting the plan for seeing “evangelization,” which is the practice of bringing the Catholic faith to non-Catholics, as a higher priority than the Catholic faith itself, whose integrity is protected by the CDF.
Müller’s concern about a “Marxist” foundation to the relationship between theory and “praxis” (Greek for “practice”) is a reference to the Marxist claim that ideological theory is created to justify the practice of revolution, which is an unquestionable premise that has primacy over any theory. Pope Francis, who appears to many to have been influenced by radical forms of Marxism, has been accused of embracing this view of theory and practice, which would reverse the order of priorities of the Church, placing the practice of “evangelization” above the integrity of the Catholic faith itself.
The curial reform proposal, which is now under review and is expected to be approved on June 29, was designed by Pope Francis’ Council of Cardinal Advisers, formally known as the “C9”, led by the scandal-plagued Cardinal Oscar Rodríguez Maradiaga, archbishop of Tegucigalpa, Honduras.
In the interview, Cardinal Müller also referred to the German bishops’ approach to the sex abuse crisis as “crazy,” and “absolutely false” for blaming the problem on priestly celibacy and lack of women priests, and defended Pope Emeritus Benedict’s analysis of the crisis, calling its critics “ideologues” who indicate they haven’t read the text in full. He also rejected proposals to ordain married men, which will be discussed at the upcoming Amazon Synod later this year, blaming the shortage of priests on a lack of proper preparation for the priestly vocation.
The full interview can be found here.