Needed: A New Evangelization

"In a world characterized by religious indifference and even by a growing aversion towards the Christian faith, what is needed is new and intense evangelizing activity, directed not only at peoples who have never known the Gospel, but also at those among whom Christianity is present and has become part of their history.” This is was the affirmation made by the Holy Father Benedict XVI during the celebration of Vespers, which he presided in the Basilica of St. Paul's Outside-the-Walls on the afternoon of January 25, Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul, at the end of this year's Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. The event was attended by a number of cardinals and bishops, as well as by representatives of other Churches and ecclesial communities present in Rome.

In his homily, the Holy Father recalled that the recent celebration of the Year of St. Paul has offered us the possibility of “deepening in our knowledge of his extraordinary work of herald of the Gospel, and...our call to become missionaries of the Gospel.” Thus, commenting on the Gospel passage of the disciples of Emmaus, which had just been read, he highlighted that our witness, “then as now, is born from the encounter with the Risen Christ, is nourished by the constant relationship with Him, is animated by a deep love for Him... This is why Jesus promises His disciples and each of us a powerful support from on high, a new presence, that of the Holy Spirit [who is] the gift of the risen Christ, who leads us into the entire truth ... The Eleven spent their whole lives proclaiming the good news of the death and resurrection of Christ and most of them sealed their testimony with the blood of martyrdom, fertile seeds that have produced an abundant harvest.”

Making reference to the theme chosen for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, "You are witnesses of these things," (Lk 24:48) the Pope showed that it is an invitation to “offer shared witness of the risen Christ in accordance with the mandate He entrusted to His disciples,” linked "to the hundredth anniversary of the missionary conference in Edinburgh, Scotland, which many consider as a decisive event for the birth of the modern ecumenical movement.”

Benedict XVI did not conceal the existing questions that still separate Christians from one another, “and that we hope may be overcome through prayer and dialogue,” however, there is "a core content of Christ's message that we can announce together: the paternity of God, Christ's victory over sin and death with His cross and resurrection, and trust in the transforming action of the Spirit.” Lastly, the Pope called for a common testimony in light of the challenges of our time: secularization and indifference, relativism and hedonism, delicate ethical questions concerning the beginning and end of life, the limits of science and technology, and dialogue with other religious traditions. He also mentioned that other fields in which we must already show our joint witness are: protecting creation, promoting peace and the common good, defending the centrality of the human person, and the commitment to defeat the poverties of our time such as hunger, indigence, illiteracy and the unequal distribution of wealth. (SL) (Agenzia Fides 26/01/2010)

Photo: Mission San Francis Xavier established by Fr. Kino, S.J.(Arizona).

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