Pope Benedict to Bishops: Evangelization Not the Work of 'Specialists' but the Whole Catholic Church
nourish your sense of responsibility for the entire Church.
As members of the Episcopal college, in fact, you should always have a special solicitude for the universal Church, firstly by promoting and defending the unity of the faith. Jesus Christ has entrusted the mission of proclaiming the Gospel primarily to the body of pastors who need to work together and with the Successor of Peter (cf. ibid., 23), so that it reaches all people. This is particularly urgent in our time, who calls on you to boldly invite the people from every walk of life to an encounter with Christ and to render more solid the faith (cf. Christus Dominus, 12).
Your primary concern must be to promote and support "a more determined commitment of the Church in favor of the new evangelization in order to rediscover the joy in believing and find the enthusiasm to communicate the faith" (Apostolic Letter. Porta fidei, 7). Here too you are called to encourage and foster communion and collaboration between all the realities of your dioceses. Evangelization, in fact, is not the work of some specialists, but of the entire People of God, under the guidance of the Pastors.
Each believer, in and with the ecclesial community should feel responsible for announcing and witnessing to the Gospel. Blessed John XXIII, opening the great assembly of Vatican II envisaged "a leap forward toward a doctrinal penetration and a formation of consciences," and for this reason - he added - "it is necessary that this certain and unchangeable doctrine, which must be faithfully respected, be both deepened and presented in a way that meets the needs of our time "(Address at the Opening of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, October 11, 1962).
We could say that the new evangelization began precisely with the Council, which Blessed John XXIII saw as a new Pentecost that would see the Church flourish through its inner wealth and maternally extend to all fields of human activity (cf. Address The closing session of the Council, December 8, 1962).
The effects of the new Pentecost, despite the difficulties of the times, spread to reach the life of the Church in all its forms: from the institutional to the spiritual, from the participation of the lay faithful in the Church to the charismatic flowering and holiness. In this regard, we cannot but think of both Blessed John XXIII and Blessed John Paul II, as well as the many figures of bishops, priests, religious and lay people who have rendered the face of the Church beautiful in our time.
This legacy was also entrusted to your pastoral care. Draw from this wealth of doctrine, of spirituality and of holiness to form the faith of your people, so that their testimony is more credible. At the same time, your Episcopal service demands you "give reason for the hope that is in you" (1 Pet 3:15) to those who are in search of faith or the ultimate meaning of life, " in whose hearts grace works in an unseen way. For, since Christ died for all men, and since the ultimate vocation of man is in fact one, and divine,"(Gaudium et Spes, 22).
I encourage you, therefore, to make an effort so that everyone, according to their age and living conditions, are presented with the essential contents of the faith, in a systematic and organic manner, to respond to questions posed by our globalized and technological world. The words of the Servant of God Paul VI are still timely, who said:
"We need to evangelize man's culture and cultures (not in a purely decorative way, as it were, by applying a thin veneer, but in a vital way, in depth and right to their very roots),... always taking the person as one's starting-point and always coming back to the relationships of people among themselves and with God "(ibid., n. Evangelii nuntiandi, 20). For this purpose it is essential to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, a sure norm for teaching the faith and communion in the creed. The reality in which we live demands that the Christian should have a solid formation!
The Faith needs credible witnesses, who trust in the Lord and trust Him to be "living sign of the presence of the Risen Lord in the world" (Apostolic Letter. Porta Fidei, 15). The Bishop, the first witness of faith accompanies the journey of believers offering the example of a life lived in trusting in God . He, therefore, in order to be an authoritative teacher and herald of the faith, must live in the presence of the Lord, as a man of God. In fact, one cannot be in the service of men, unless being first a servant of God.
Your personal commitment to holiness requires that each day you assimilate the Word of God in prayer and nourish yourselves in the Eucharist, to draw from this dual table the lifeblood of your ministry. Charity spurs you to be close to your priests, with a fatherly love that knows how to support, encourage and forgive; they are your first and most precious collaborators in bringing God to men and men to God.
In the same way, the love of the Good Shepherd will make you attentive to the poor and the suffering, to support and console them, as well as to guide those who have lost the meaning of life. Be especially close to the families: parents, helping them to be the primary educators of the faith of their children, the children and young people so that they can build their lives on the solid rock of friendship with Christ. Take special care of seminarians, concerned that they are formed humanly, spiritually, theologically and pastorally, so that the community can have joyful and mature pastors and reliable guides in the faith.
- - -
Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
Keywords: Bishops, evangelization, New Evangelization, Missionary, Pope Benedict XVI, Pontifical Council, Year of Faith, Deacon Keith Fournier
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