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The language of new evangelisation


The Synod of Bishops says in its final statement that new evangelisation is a process to be described not an entity to be defined, but strongly states that it is the duty of every Christian to be part of the process.

The final statement was passed by the 262 bishops present and goes into the hows, whys, whos and wherefores of the process.

The Last Message of the Synod of Bishops, issued on October 26, reiterates that a relationship between the faithful and Christ is the basis of evangelisation and that the gospel must be first lived, before it can be passed on.

It is optimistic in stating that globalisation and secularisation, which are seen as obstacles to living and spreading the faith in today’s world, do not completely black out opportunities to think about and develop our relationship with God.

The importance of personal conversion was repeatedly voiced in the synod, as bishop after bishop said that the messenger must first be convinced of the love of Christ and his message of salvation, so they may proclaim the gospel under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. While this sounds like a cliché, it is not an easy thing to put into practice.

This is a good time for personal reflection to purify our faith, re-examine our relationship with Jesus and ask ourselves how to develop our faith and learn how to articulate it in language the world can understand.

Fifty years ago, Vatican II paved the way for the laity to participate in Church ministries. Fifty years later, many bishops in the synod focussed their interventions on the issues of laity, family, participation of women in Church life, parishes and the importance of faith groups.

Family values are challenged with the recent proliferation of single-parent families, the up in the divorce rate, number of working parents, trend towards urbanisation and export labour.

Faith formation for young people and children deserves attention, as secularism, consumerism and hedonism tend to play down the sacredness of family life in particular and religion in general.

The Church is struggling to find a response to secularisation, which has affected every culture. Some bishops suggest fasting, self-denial and living simply, while others advocate stronger links among parishes, solidarity among small faith communities and the use of modern information technology in preaching the gospel.

The president of the Pontifical Commission on Justice and Peace also hopes to convene a Synod of Bishops on the social teaching of the Church.

The synod echoed the importance of interreligious dialogue and dialogue with cultures as advocated by Vatican II. The Holy See is organising a delegation to go to Syria to express the solidarity of the universal Church with the persecuted Christians in the country and highlight the scourge of the war.

Once again bishops from China were conspicuous by their absence. Their lone voice came in a letter from Bishop Li Jingfeng and the continued isolation of Bishop Thaddeus Ma Daqin is another reminder that we should pay attention to religious freedom in the mainland.

Evangelisation is a winding, rugged path, but the Year of Faith reminds us to make ourselves holy, to sanctify others and to transform the world, so that with faith, we may be God’s witnesses in our world. SE