The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops address modern challenges that parishes face, including changing demographics, loss of cultural values and increasing secularism, in a new document shown inset. Photo courtesy of CCCB and CNS photo/Gregory A. Shemitz, Long Island Catholic

Parishes have a missionary role

  • January 6, 2015

OTTAWA - The Canadian bishops’ doctrine commission, in a new booklet, is stressing the role of all Catholics in the new evangelization.

The document, entitled The Missionary Dynamic of the Parish Today, notes that “it is in the parish that most Canadians experience the Catholic Church.”

The document addresses the challenges facing parish life, whether they are changing demographics or cultural changes leading to “an erosion of shared values.”

“We live in an era and culture which are increasingly secularized,” it says.

This secularization includes the “denial of any mention of God; the false opposition of faith and reason; and the loss of a transcendent view of the human person and his or her destiny,” leading to moral relativism, self-centredness and “a consumer mentality and a growing spiritual malaise.”

Christianity is increasingly marginalized and this affects parishes, it says. Quoting Pope Benedict XVI, who said, “Faith must be lived together and the parish is the place in which we learn to live our faith as part of the ‘us’ of the Church,” the document says parishes are “called to be missionary — not necessarily to foreign countries — but primarily to those around them.”

“This is the new evangelization: our primary evangelizing mission today is not abroad, but within our own cities and communities.” The document encourages parishes to “bear witness to people outside of their parish community,” and involve themselves in projects that reach out to the poor or defend the right to life. It stresses the importance of ongoing faith formation as a “community of disciples.”

The document can be accessed at

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