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Synod highlights dialogue with culture


VATICAN ( In its Message to the People of God, the Synod of Bishops has issued a challenge to Catholic people to be part of the new evangelisation.

A summary of its final message, which was approved by the synod on October 24, says what new evangelisation is not. “It is not a question of finding new strategies as if the gospel was to be spread like a market product,” it says.

The 1,300-word summary then explains that the message says, “It is rediscovering the ways in which individuals come close to Jesus.”

The final message begins by evoking the image of Jesus speaking with the Samaritan woman at the well. Looking to quench her thirst, the image depicts “contemporary man with an empty vessel, thirsting and nostalgic for God.”

The message adds, “Today, many wells offer themselves to quench humanity’s thirst, but we must discern in order to avoid polluted waters.” 

It then proclaims, “Everywhere indeed we feel the need to revive a faith that risks eclipse in cultural contexts that hinders its taking root in persons and its presence in society, the clarity of its content and its coherent fruits.”

It says its purpose is the same as any other evangelisation, to bring people to Christ, which entails bringing people to the Catholic Church.

“The encounter with the Lord, which reveals God as love, can only come about in the Church, as the form of receptive community and experience of communion; from this, then, Christians become its witnesses also in other places.”

Introducing the message, Giuseppe Cardinal Betori acknowledged that the evangelical work of the Church has been damaged by the misdeeds of some Catholics and “the weaknesses of Jesus’ disciples weigh upon the credibility of the mission.”

Cardinal-designate Luis Tagle told reporters, “No one pretended there was no problem. There was no such blindness in the synod hall.”

The document adds, “We are confident in the inspiration and strength of the Spirit, who will teach us what we are to say and what we are to do even in the most difficult moments… There is no room for pessimism… We approach this world with humility, but also with determination. This comes from the certainty that the truth triumphs in the end.”

It says that evangelisation should begin within the family and expresses concern about the problems facing family life in modern society.

“We do not ignore the fact that today the family, established in the marriage of a man and of a woman, which makes them one flesh (Matthew 19:6) open to life, is assaulted by crises everywhere. It is surrounded by models of life that penalise and are neglected by the politics of society of which it is also the fundamental cell,” it says.

It also offers a message of sympathy and understanding to Catholics who are living in irregular marital situations, while remaining clear that the Church is not contemplating a change in the teaching on the divorced going to communion.

“They remain members of the Church, even if they cannot receive sacramental absolution and the Eucharist,” it states.

It nominates the parish as the natural focus of evangelisation and supports the challenge of the Year of Faith, while singling out contemplative prayer and work on behalf of the poor as two significant central points. 

It endorses efforts to promote dialogue with the worlds of science and culture, citing the need for a renewed alliance between faith and reason.

Similarly, the message supports ecumenical and interreligious efforts, while insisting and rejecting every fundamentalism and violence that is brought upon believers.

In singling out north America for attention, it says, “You need to recognise the many expressions of the present culture in the countries of your world which are today far from the gospel,” but treats Europe more gently.


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