An inmate greets Pope Benedict XVI during his pastoral visit to Rebibbia prison in Rome Dec. 18. CNS photo/L'Osservatore Romano via Reuters

Not an abstract idea, evangelization calls for real witness, pope says

By  Carol Glatz, Catholic News Service
  • December 19, 2011

VATICAN CITY - New evangelization is not an abstract idea to pitch, but rather a call to authentically live the Gospel message, Pope Benedict XVI said.

"Christian faith provides a surer basis for life than the secular vision; for 'it is only in the mystery of the Word made flesh that the mystery of humanity truly becomes clear,'" he said quoting from "Gaudium et Spes," the Second Vatican Council document on the church and society.

The pope was speaking Dec. 17 to bishops from New Zealand and the Pacific Islands who were making their "ad limina" visits to the Vatican.

He said he was aware of the challenges they faced because of increased secularization such as "a weakened appreciation for the sacred nature of Christian marriage and the stability of the family."

"In such a context the struggle to lead a life worthy of our baptismal calling and to abstain from the earthly passions which wage war against our souls becomes ever more challenging," he said.

The pope added it was precisely these challenges that prompted him to establish the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelization.

"Since the Christian faith is founded on the Word made flesh, Jesus Christ, the new evangelization is not an abstract concept but a renewal of authentic Christian living based on the teachings of the church," he said.

The pope encouraged the bishops to live in full communion with their brother bishops and priests and to strengthen their sense of faith and charity "so that those whom you serve, in their turn, may imitate your charity and be ambassadors of Christ both in the church and in the civil arena."

Being good, wise and holy priests also attracts vocations, he said, asking that young people receive greater assistance with spiritual discernment so as to know better God's will.

Because the task of spreading the Gospel in such a vast area of many islands often depends on lay missionaries and catechists, the pope asked that they continue to receive "sound and ongoing formation" so their zeal would bear much fruit.

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