Monday, April 20, 2009

Gospel Reflection: Third Sunday of Easter


In the second reading this Sunday we are reminded by St. John that all Christians are called to a life of holiness by virtue of our Baptism and incorporation in to Christ. Yet we are still capable of sinning. Jesus our Advocate before the Father, paid the expiation for our sins and is able to reconcile us to the Father. St. John tells us that Jesus substituted his obedience for our disobedience, "not for our sins only but for those of the whole world" (1 John 1:1). We must not take Jesus' sacrifice lightly.

The Christian life is a call to an intimate union with Christ. The evidence of this union is our own desire to live a life of holiness. St John reminds us,

The way we may be sure that we know him is to keep his commandments. Whoever says, 'I know him,' but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoever keeps his word, the love of God is truly perfected in him. This is the way we may know that we are in union with him. (1 John 1:3-5).


Pope Paul VI remarks that, "The split between the Gospel and culture is without a doubt the drama of our time, just as it was of other times. Therefore every effort must be made to ensure a full evangelization of culture, or more correctly of cultures (Evangelii Nuntiandi 20). The Fathers of Second Vatican Council make the same point forcefully; "the breach between faith and daily life among so many must be considered one of the more serious errors of our time" (Gaudium et Spes 43). Theologically, this concept is called living a "unity of life." We cannot separate our lives into private and public spheres and live two separate lives. A Christian cannot go to Church on Sunday and cheat people on the stock market on Monday. We must live the virtue of sincerity rather than pursue the vice of hypocrisy. The Fathers of Second Vatican Council note,
 

Since Christ, sent by the Father, is the source and origin of the whole apostolate of the Church, the success of the lay apostolate depends upon the laity's living union with Christ, in keeping with the Lord's words, "He who abides in me, and I in him, bears much fruit, for without me you can do nothing" (John 15:5) (The Decree on the Apostolate of the Laity 4).
 

The Council Fathers note that the lay faithful have a special mission to carry out "the apostolate of evangelization and sanctification" in order to both penetrate and perfect the temporal order (AA 2, 6). The particular character of the lay faithful must be kept in mind. They are called to live out the universal call to holiness in the midst of their ordinary lives while engaged in temporal affairs. They are to live a unity of life brought about by a life of prayer, formation, and rich sacramental life (AA 4). The mission field becomes the world each of us live in, in the midst of our temporal affairs we must become the light of Christ to the nations. Even secular culture must be evangelized through the actions of the lay faithful. Pope John Paul II calls this the "New Evangelization." He notes, "The unity of life of the lay faithful is of the greatest importance: indeed they must be sanctified in everyday professional and social life. Therefore, to respond to their vocation, the lay faithful must see their daily activities as an occasion to join themselves to God, fulfill his will, serve other people and lead them to communion with God in Christ"(Christifideles laici 17).
The problem of living a unity of life has become particularly important for those in public office. Pope John Paul II notes,

The passing of unjust laws often raises difficult problems of conscience for morally upright people with regard to the issue of cooperation, since they have a right to demand not to be forced to take part in morally evil actions. . . . Christians, like all people of good will, are called upon under grave obligation of conscience not to cooperate formally in practices which, even if permitted by civil legislation, are contrary to God's law. Indeed, from the moral standpoint, it is never licit to cooperate formally in evil. Such cooperation occurs when an action, either by its very nature or by the form it takes in a concrete situation, can be defined as a direct participation in an act against innocent human life or a sharing in the immoral intention of the person committing it" (Evangelium vitae, 74).
 

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has also clarified that, "Those who are directly involved in lawmaking bodies have a "grave and clear obligation to oppose" any law that attacks human life" (CDF, Doctrinal Note on some questions regarding the participation of Catholics in public life, November 24, 2002). It is not uncommon to have individuals or lobby groups call themselves 'Catholic' and yet to divide their beliefs into two spheres. They attempt to point out the good they have accomplished in one sphere while overlooking their grave cooperation with attacks on human life in another sphere. This type of thinking is hypocrisy and clearly not living a unity of life.
 

In today's Gospel the two disciples on the Road to Emmaus had their eyes opened and they recognized Jesus in the breaking of Bread. Through their encounter with the Eucharist, Jesus "opened their minds to understand the scriptures." Then he commissioned them, "You are witnesses of these things." The Opening Prayer for the Thursday after Ash Wednesday is a prayer for living the unity of life. We pray, "Direct, we beseech you, O Lord, all our actions by your holy inspiration and carry them on by your gracious assistance that every work of ours may always begin with you and through you be happily ended." Pope John Paul II has named the Virgin Mary as the "Star of the New Evangelization" (Novo Millennio Ineunte 74). As we strive to live our lives fully in union with Christ, may we all pray: Holy Mary, Star of the New Evangelization, pray for us.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

The Human Person in Gaudium et Spes

As pointed out previously, during the discussions for the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church (Lumen Gentium), a distinction was borrowed from Trinitarian theology; the actions of the Church were described either as ad intra, and ad extra. The interior works versus the exterior works. The use of this distinction was influenced by the Belgian Cardinal Suenens, and the Commission for the Lay Apostolate.

The original seventy schemas prepared by the preparatory commissions were first reduced to twenty in December 1962 and then to seventeen in January of 1963. The earlier schema, De Ecclesia, was concerned only with works within the Church. The Theological Commission was asked to create a second schema concerning the ad extra works of the Church. The seventeenth schema was to concern the work of the Church external to itself or in the world. Schema XVII was eventually named Gaudium et Spes the title is from the first sentence in the Latin original which means "Joy and Hope." Our English title The Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World comes from the earlier title of Schema XVII. The name of the Schema changed from "The Active Participation of the Church in the Building of the World" to its final title "The Church in the World of Today" (De Ecclesia in Mundo Huius Temporis). This title, "in the World of Today" is paralleled the first phrase, "The joys and the hopes, the griefs and the anxieties of the men of this age" (GS 1).

Norman Tanner, observes that there was a definite shift in emphasis as the Council began "proposing itself and the Catholic Church as moral points of reference for contemporary society" This was a deliberate attempt to seriously respond to Pope John XXIII's desire that the Council be pastoral in character. The schema was initially presented to the council by Cardinal Cento and Bishop Guano on behalf of the mixed commission that prepared it. Cardinal Cento proposed that the Council should conduct a dialogue with the people of our time. Bishop Gauno noted that "the Church had the right and duty to respond to the needs and aspirations of the world." He also observed that the council should be "a sign and vehicle of this dialogue between the Church and mankind." Cardinal Angelo Scola observes that "the category of dialogue as explored by the Magisterium of Paul VI in the Encyclical Escclesium suam provided the keystone for the development of this different way of looking at reality" He notes further that "it was in the nature of a pastoral Constitution to remain open to later developments."

There are two difficulties which arise from the idea of promoting a dialogue between the Church and the world. The first involves the doctrinal complexity of the relationship between the Church and the world. What does 'world' mean? What is meant by 'Church'? Secondly how does one find the balance between the unchanging principles of the faith and the contingencies of the present historical reality?

Cardinal Scola highlights two fundamental principles which relate to both the content and the method of Gaudium et spes. First, the teaching of this Constitution is based on a Christocentric anthropology, or an understanding of the human person which is centered on Christ. Secondly it is founded on a pastoral dimension which is attentive to the "signs of the times" and seeking the best way to present Christ to the human family.

Clear examples of a Christocentric anthropology is seen in a great number of passages from Gaudium et spes such as GS 10, 22, 32, 38-39, 40-41, and 45.

Cardinal Scola notes that the nexus between dialogue and Christocentric anthropology is seen most explicitly in GS 10;

The Church also maintains that beneath all changes there are many realities which do not change and which have their ultimate foundation in Christ, Who is the same yesterday and today, yes and forever (Cf. Heb 13:8). Hence under the light of Christ, the image of the unseen God, the firstborn of every creature, (Cf. Col 1:15) the council wishes to speak to all men in order to shed light on the mystery of man and to cooperate in finding the solution to the outstanding problems of our time. (Gaudium et spes 10).

Although the council provides many sections of Gaudium et spes which clearly offer features of an objective Christocentric anthropology they are fragmentary and seen "in embryo." Cardinal Scola's point mentioned above may be revisited; he notes "it was in the nature of a pastoral Constitution to remain open to later developments." Commenting on the reception of the Constitution after the council he notes that there is still an imperative need for "an organic reconsideration of the subject." The work of the Council that began in embryo needs to be continued to be developed by the Church and fully worked out as an objective Christocentric anthropology of the human person.

The second important dimension Cardinal Scola mentions is the pastoral dimension. This theme is expressed in terms of dialogue and resonates with themes of aggioramento and of the signs of the times. In his Encyclical Escclesium suam Pope Paul VI calls theme of aggioramento the guiding principle of the Council.

Pope Paul VI notes;

We cannot forget Pope John XXIII's word aggiornamento which We have adopted as expressing the aim and object of Our own pontificate. Besides ratifying it and confirming it as the guiding principle of the Ecumenical Council, We want to bring it to the notice of the whole Church. It should prove a stimulus to the Church to increase its ever growing vitality and its ability to take stock of itself and give careful consideration to the signs of the times, always and everywhere "proving all things and holding fast that which is good" (Cf. 1 Thes 5. 21.) with the enthusiasm of youth.

Cardinal Scola highlights three problems which arise from the above two themes.

  1. The need to find a language adequate to express the dialogical (pastoral) dimension of the Council.
  2. The problem of the pastoral nature of doctrine (particularly Magisterial pronouncements).
  3. The question of the relationship between Christ as absolute Truth and the need for the "respect of the insuperable freedom of each person."

The Preface and Introductory Statement

Considerable controversy existed over what type of document Gaudium et spes should be. Was it a Constitution, or a Declaration or Decree, or even just a letter? Although many experts initially favored downgrading the documents official status, the Council Fathers voted by a fairly strong majority to name the document a "Pastoral Constitution." Gaudiaum et spes would share equal status with the other three Constitutions, thought it would maintain a greater pastoral emphasis. An idea arose in some circles that only the first part of GS was a formal Constitution. This is corrected by the official commentary on the title given in note 1 of the preface;

1. The Pastoral Constitution "De Ecclesia in Mundo Huius Temporis" is made up of two parts; yet it constitutes an organic unity. By way of explanation: the constitution is called "pastoral" because, while resting on doctrinal principles, it seeks to express the relation of the Church to the world and modern mankind. The result is that, on the one hand, a pastoral slant is present in the first part, and, on the other hand, a doctrinal slant is present in the second part. In the first part, the Church develops her teaching on man, on the world which is the enveloping context of man's existence, and on man's relations to his fellow men. In part two, the Church gives closer consideration to various aspects of modern life and human society; special consideration is given to those questions and problems which, in this general area, seem to have a greater urgency in our day. As a result in part two the subject matter which is viewed in the light of doctrinal principles is made up of diverse elements. Some elements have a permanent value; others, only a transitory one. Consequently, the constitution must be interpreted according to the general norms of theological interpretation. Interpreters must bear in mind-especially in part two-the changeable circumstances which the subject matter, by its very nature, involves. (GS, Preface, n. 1)

Once again the note emphasizes the unchanging principles on the one hand and the application of these principles in contemporary life situations which involve changeable circumstances. The preface set the tone for the whole document.

The joys and the hopes (Latin gaudium et spes), the griefs and the anxieties of the men of this age, especially those who are poor or in any way afflicted, these are the joys and hopes, the griefs and anxieties of the followers of Christ. Indeed, nothing genuinely human fails to raise an echo in their hearts. (GS 1)

The decree begins from below, and is addressed to all people. The Council addresses itself "to the whole of humanity." Gaudium et spes is closely linked to Lumen Gentium, which it explicitly refers to, "having probed more profoundly into the mystery of the Church." The seven sections which follow this describe the state of humankind in today's world. This leads to some fundamental questions;

What is man? What is this sense of sorrow, of evil, of death, which continues to exist despite so much progress? What purpose have these victories purchased at so high a cost? What can man offer to society, what can he expect from it? What follows this earthly life? (GS 10).

These are to be answered by developing a Christocenteric focus. Christ is the ultimate foundation, Salvation is found in Christ alone (GS 10). "And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved" (Acts 4:12). The Council seeks to solve these fundamental human questions in the light of Christ "in order to shed light on the mystery of man and to cooperate in finding the solution to the outstanding problems of our time" (GS 10).

Article 11

11. The People of God believes that it is led by the Lord's Spirit, Who fills the earth. Motivated by this faith, it labors to decipher authentic signs of God's presence and purpose in the happenings, needs and desires in which this People has a part along with other men of our age. For faith throws a new light on everything, manifests God's design for man's total vocation, and thus directs the mind to solutions which are fully human.

Joseph Ratzinger (now Pope Bendict XVII) comments on this section. He notes that the verb "detected" (animadveretre) in the original schema is strengthened to "distinguished" (discernere) or as translated above "decipher." Ratzinger calls this a felicitous touch which draws on the spiritual tradition from the idea of the discernment of spirits (discretion spirtuum). While it is certainly true that God's presence exists in the world it needs to be discerned carefully. "That of course is necessary in order that the moment of the Holy Spirit my not imperceptibly change in to the momentary spirit of the age, and what is done under the appearance of obedience to the pneuma may not in fact be submission to the dictates of fashion and apostasy from the Lord." The purpose of this discernment is to find "solutions which are fully human" (GS 11). Although in a certain sense the Church and the humanity are placed in dialogue, the Church "cannot stand outside the human race, even for reasons of dialogue. . . The Church meets its vis-á-vis [face to face counterpart] in the human race . . . it cannot exclude itself from the human race and then artificially create a solidarity."


Article 12

Ratzinger notes that a dynamic account of the human person was followed which was based on biblical data rather than on neo-scholastic tradition. This article begins answering the question "But what is man?" The Church offers an answer based on revelation,

For Sacred Scripture teaches that man was created "to the image of God," is capable of knowing and loving his Creator, and was appointed by Him as master of all earthly creatures(1) that he might subdue them and use them to God's glory.(2) (GS 12).

This text leaves a number of theological tensions which are developed later in the text (The problem of sin, (GS 13); and Christ as the recapitulation of Adam (GS 22). A crucial understanding is the notion that;

God did not create man as a solitary, for from the beginning "male and female he created them" (Gen. 1:27). Their companionship produces the primary form of interpersonal communion. For by his innermost nature man is a social being, and unless he relates himself to others he can neither live nor develop his potential. (GS 12).

While the Council Fathers affirm the relationship between man and women as an aspect of being created in the image and likeness of God, they avoid making this its exclusive aspect. They highlight the essential trait of communion and the notion that man is a social being.


 

Article 13

The attempt to bring the Church out of the mindset of the Middle Ages and into the modern world had led some to ignore the problem of sin. This section was added to balance what especially the German theologians regarded as an overly optimistic perspective. Apparently the French authors of the schema were influenced by a combination of Thomistic and Greek patristic thinking which gave greater emphasis to creation and redemption. Ratzinger notes that a specific effort was made to keep the thought of Teilhard de Chardin out of the Constitution. Article 13 refers to the devil, the fall of man and to concupiscence. With the resulting affirmation that, "sin has diminished man, blocking his path to fulfillment." Ratzinger points out that because of unresolved debates regarding the exact nature of the original state of Adam and Eve and original sin, the Council Fathers chose to focus on the notion of mankind's collective disobedience quoting Romans 1:12ff instead of Romans 5. This was not a disagreement with the essential content of Trent but an attempt to not further and more precisely define these issues.

Article 14

This article combines what were originally two articles, one on the body and the other on the soul. The two were combined to emphasize the inseparable unity of the body and soul. As the opening sentence declares, "Though made of body and soul, man is one" (GS 14). Ratzinger believes that the discussion of man's "interior resources" or as the Vatican translates, "For by his interior qualities he outstrips the whole sum of mere things" (GS 14), is an echo of Blaise Pascal's Penéese (Fragment par. 308/793) with its notion of three orders, while the idea that man "probes the heart" is taken from St. Augustine. At the end of this article the Council Father explicitly affirm belief in "a spiritual and immortal soul" as opposed to reductionistic modern theories.

Article 15

The next three articles describe human spirituality under three aspects, the intellect (man's capacity for truth), the conscience (man's capacity for good), and freedom. Commenting on this section Ratzinger complains that "the phenomenon of intersubjectivity, man's essential ordination to love, is not mentioned." The modern understanding of the philosophy of the person is not yet highlighted.

"Man judges rightly that by his intellect he surpasses the material universe, for he shares in the light of the divine mind" (GS 15). The idea of the intellect as a participation in the light of the divine mind follows St. Augustine, especially as later understood by St. Bonaventure. The notion that the mind is superior to the universe is a further echo of Pascal. A contrast is made between science and wisdom (scientia-sapientia). Important achievements in science and technology make the sensible world serviceable to mankind. The Council Fathers note "the intellectual nature of the human person is perfected by wisdom" (GS 15).

Again this picks up on the Augustinian understanding that the sensible world (mundis sensibilis) may be manipulated by skill/craft/art (ars) and in this way to be made use (uti) of in the world. The sensible world is limited to appearances "in contradistinction to non-phenomenal, non-sensible, genuine reality." What is useful to man does not necessarily give him truth, in fact it may be dangerous if it taken to represent the ultimate. Instead of being merely useful (uti) it becomes "enjoyment" (frui) and holds one back from the genuine. St. Augustine notes that God alone is to be enjoyed. "And so the great question is whether human beings ought to regard themselves as things to be enjoyed, or to be used or both." The answer is that we "ought not love ourselves for our own sake, but for the sake of the one to whom your love is most rightly directed as its end" (De doctrina christiana, I.22.20). Ratzinger notes, "The advance of science and of the techniques which it makes possible, brings no certain assurance of man's future, which continues to be threatened if a lack of wisdom runs parallel with the growth of knowledge."

Article 16

This article deals with the notion of conscience. A general notion of conscience is emphasized. The conscience is transcendent in character. It is written on the heart and is objective and has a non-arbitrary character. It is "guided by the objective norms of morality" (GS 16). Although it is possible to be invincibly ignorant, it is not possible to have careless disregard for truth and goodness. A person is also culpable if they allow their conscience to grow practically sightless by degrees as a result of habitual sin GS 16).

After a lengthy quote from Gaudium et spes 16, John Paul II comments;

The way in which one conceives the relationship between freedom and law is thus intimately bound up with one's understanding of the moral conscience. Here the cultural tendencies referred to above — in which freedom and law are set in opposition to each other and kept apart, and freedom is exalted almost to the point of idolatry — lead to a "creative" understanding of moral conscience, which diverges from the teaching of the Church's tradition and her Magisterium. (Veritatis splendor, 54)

Against this false notion of a "creative" conscience John Paul II notes that, "The judgment of conscience is a practical judgment, a judgment which makes known what man must do or not do. . . Conscience thus formulates moral obligation in the light of the natural law: it is the obligation to do what the individual, through the workings of his conscience, knows to be a good he is called to do here and now. The universality of the law and its obligation are acknowledged, not suppressed, once reason has established the law's application in concrete present circumstances (VS 59).

Article 17

Ratzinger points out that this article is still in need of further development. Positively it affirms the value of freedom expressed on the basis of faith. It is affirmed that man is a free being who should not be coerced or forced to act under compulsion. The Council was concerned to correct the false notion of freedom with the absence of commitment which is used to manipulate people at the "disposition of powers which anonymously control the intellectual and economic market." John Paul II quotes GS 17 and calls attention to the role man plays in sharing in God's dominion over the earth (VS 38). This implies a type of genuine autonomy of reason. This does not imply that reason itself creates values and moral norms (VS 40). He notes (explicitly quoting (GS 17);

Patterned on God's freedom, man's freedom is not negated by his obedience to the divine law; indeed, only through this obedience does it abide in the truth and conform to human dignity. (VS 41).

It is not freedom to drive off a cliff, or speed down the lanes of opposing oncoming traffic. This may be a type of freedom, a freedom of choice but it is not genuine freedom. Freedom must be in conformity with behaviors which are consistent with the integral fulfillment of the human person.

Pope John Paul II and the New Evangelization (Part II)


Redemptoris Missio (1990)

Two years after writing the Apostolic Exhortation, Christifideles laici, John Paul II wrote a major encyclical entitled Redemptoris Missio, On the permanent validity of the Church's missionary mandate (1990). He writes this document because he observes a negative tendency in which missionary activity specifically directed "to the nations" appears to be waning (RM 2). He reinforces that the Church still believes in the real possibility of salvation in Christ for all mankind (RM 9). Why do we need missions? Because in Christ alone are we set free from all alienation and doubt, he is the Good News for man and women of every age. "Those who are incorporated in the Catholic Church ought to sense their privilege and for that very reason their greater obligation of bearing witness to the faith and to the Christian life as a service to their brothers and sisters and as a fitting response to God" (RM 11). Pope John Paul II highlights a correct understanding of the Kingdom of God and the role of the Holy Spirit in evangelization. He then discusses three situations in the Church's missionary activity. The first is the mission to those to whom Christ is not known, the second is among those Christian communities for with adequate and solid ecclesial structures, and with fervent Christian living which bears witness to the Gospel with a sense of commitment to the universal mission. These communities require pastoral care. The third situation is among those countries who were traditionally Christian but where entire groups of the baptized have lost a living sense of faith. In this case we need a "new evangelization" or a re-evangelization (RM 33). The Church everywhere must seek to overcome the difficulties of "fatigue, disenchantment, compromise, lack of interest and above all lack of joy and hope" (RM 36). He makes a special plea, "In this regard, I earnestly ask theologians and professional Christian journalists to intensify the service they render to the Church's mission in order to discover the deep meaning of their work, along the sure path of "thinking with the Church" (sentire cum Ecclesia)" (RM 36).

Pope John Paul II, then moves on to discuss the parameters of the Church's mission Ad Gentes. He notes that although the mission is universal, "the criterion of geography . . . is still a valid indicator of the frontiers toward which missionary activity must be directed." (RM 37). He also notes that "migration has produced a new phenomenon: non-Christians are becoming very numerous in traditionally Christian countries" and this provides new opportunities for mission. In the area of social communications John Paul II notes that,

"Since the very evangelization of modern culture depends to a great extent on the influence of the media, it is not enough to use the media simply to spread the Christian message and the Church's authentic teaching. It is also necessary to integrate that message into the "new culture" created by modern communications." (RM 37).

He also identifies the evangelization of culture with the "commitment to peace, development and the liberation of peoples; the rights of individuals and peoples, especially those of minorities; the advancement of women and children; safeguarding the created world" (RM 37). These are many of the issues discussed in the Compendium of Social Doctrine of the Church.

He notes that by faithfully proclaiming Christ the Church is furthering human freedom. The Church should strive to promote authentic religious freedom for all people because this is "an inalienable right of each and every human person" (RM 39). He notes that we need to "direct our attention toward those geographical areas and cultural settings which still remain uninfluenced by the Gospel" particularly the south and east (RM 39).

Pope John Paul II discusses the paths of mission which begin with initial witness, "the very life of the missionary, of the Christian family, and of the ecclesial community, which reveal a new way of living" (RM 42). This is followed by the initial proclamation of Christ the Savior, which leads some to conversion and Baptism followed by entry into an existing Church the establishment of new communities which confess Jesus as Savior and Lord (RM 48). He also notes the importance of "ecclesial basic communities" which are provider centers for Christian formation and missionary outreach.

Pope John Paul II then moves on to discuss inculturation;

The process of the Church's insertion into peoples' cultures is a lengthy one. It is not a matter of purely external adaptation, for inculturation "means the intimate transformation of authentic cultural values through their integration in Christianity and the insertion of Christianity in the various human cultures."85 The process is thus a profound and all-embracing one, which involves the Christian message and also the Church's reflection and practice. But at the same time it is a difficult process, for it must in no way compromise the distinctiveness and integrity of the Christian faith. (RM 48).

In reference to foreign missionaries he notes,

Missionaries, who come from other churches and countries, must immerse themselves in the cultural milieu of those to whom they are sent, moving beyond their own cultural limitations. Hence they must learn the language of the place in which they work, become familiar with the most important expressions of the local culture, and discover its values through direct experience. Only if they have this kind of awareness will they be able to bring to people the knowledge of the hidden mystery (cf. Rom 16:25-27; Eph 3:5) in a credible and fruitful way. (RM 53).

Two principles must be followed to ensure proper inculturation, "compatibility with the gospel and communion with the universal Church." Bishops, as guardians of the "deposit of faith," will take care to ensure fidelity and, in particular, to provide discernment, for which a deeply balanced approach is required. (RM 54).

He notes also that "Inter-religious dialogue is a part of the Church's evangelizing mission" but that this should not distract in any way from "the fact that salvation comes from Christ and that dialogue does not dispense from evangelization." (RM 55). He notes that "missionaries are being recognized as promoters of development by governments and international experts" but cautions that development should always be based on authentic human development rather than "money or technology" (RM 58).

Pope John Paul II notes the need to develop missionary leaders and promote missionary institutes. He also notes that this is a special concern for all bishops and priests who "are called by virtue of the sacrament of Orders to share in concern for the Church's mission" (RM 67). This mission should also be a special concern for vocations of the Institutes of Consecrated Life, both institutes of contemplative life and institutes of active life (RM 69). He also stresses the importance of the role of the laity in missionary activity. The lay faithful are called as missionaries by means of their baptism. It is a right and duty based on their baptismal dignity, whereby "the faithful participate, for their part, in the threefold mission of Christ as Priest, Prophet and King" (RM 71). He also highlights the need for prayer and cooperation and the need to "be open to the Church's universality, and to avoid every form of provincialism or exclusiveness, or feelings of self-sufficiency" (RM 85).

Missionary activity demands a specific spirituality: a life of complete docility to the Spirit, an intimate communion with Christ, a life marked by apostolic charity for the Church and the world, and a commitment to the way of holiness. He notes, "The universal call to holiness is closely linked to the universal call to mission" (RM 90).

Ecclesia in America (1999)

In 1999, Pope John Paul II, wrote the post-synodal Apostolic exhortation, Ecclesia in America, The Church in America. The theme of the evangelization of culture is covered in Chapter V, "The Path to Solidarity." This chapter concludes with a discussion of the question of immigration and advocates a more penetrating evangelization of immigrant peoples. Chapter VI is entitled, "The Mission of the Church in America Today: The New Evangelization." He notes;

As I have said on other occasions, the new and unique situation in which the world and the Church find themselves at the threshold of the Third Millennium, and the urgent needs which result, mean that the mission of evangelization today calls for a new program which can be defined overall as a "new evangelization" (EA 66).

The center of the "new evangelization" must be "a clear and unequivocal proclamation of the person of Jesus Christ, that is, the preaching of his name, his teaching, his life, his promises and the Kingdom which he has gained for us by his Paschal Mystery" (EA 66). Christ must be proclaimed by the witness of each one's life. We must have a preferential but not exclusive concern for the poor. One current problem is the neglect of those in leading sectors of society with the resulting secularization of political, economic, union-related, military, social or cultural sector of society. There is a need for an evangelization of the leadership sector, and a special formation of consciences on the basis of the Church's social doctrine.

Pope John Paul II discusses the means of evangelization and notes that the first impulse for witness comes about from our personal encounter with the Lord. He then moves on to discuss the importance of catechesis. He notes;

The new evangelization in which the whole continent is engaged means that faith cannot be taken for granted, but must be explicitly proposed in all its breadth and richness. This is the principal objective of catechesis, which, by its very nature, is an essential aspect of the new evangelization (EA 69).

Pope John Paul II points to two essential resources for this ministry, the Catechism of the Catholic Church and the General Directory for Catechesis. Pope Benedict XVI has recently added to this the Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

Pope John Paul II moves on to discuss the evangelization of culture and quotes Pope Paul VI's remark that, "the split between the Gospel and culture is undoubtedly the drama of our time." As mentioned above, the Council Fathers note the "breach between faith and daily life among so many must be considered one of the more serious errors of our time" (GS 43). Pope John Paul II quotes the Fathers of the extraordinary synod, "the new evangelization calls for a clearly conceived, serious and well organized effort to evangelize culture". This implies the need to inculturate preaching "in such a way that the Gospel is proclaimed in the language and in the culture of its hearers" (EA 70). This can occur through Catholic centers of education inspired by Catholic principles. This includes universities and schools. He notes that in "the overall work of the new evangelization, the educational sector occupies a place of honor",

A special effort should be made to strengthen the Catholic identity of schools, whose specific character is based on an educational vision having its origin in the person of Christ and its roots in the teachings of the Gospel. Catholic schools must seek not only to impart a quality education from the technical and professional standpoint, but also and above all provide for the integral formation of the human person (EA 70).

He also highlights the need for evangelization through the media,

For the new evangelization to be effective, it is essential to have a deep understanding of the culture of our time in which the social communications media are most influential. Therefore, knowledge and use of the media, whether the more traditional forms or those which technology has produced in recent times, is indispensable. Contemporary reality demands a capacity to learn the language, nature and characteristics of mass media. Using the media correctly and competently can lead to a genuine inculturation of the Gospel. At the same time, the media also help to shape the culture and mentality of people today, which is why there must be special pastoral activity aimed at those working in the media (EA 72).


Pope John Paul II then discusses the problems created by the proselytism of sects which violate people's freedom and conscience with their methods. He points out "the urgency of prompt evangelizing efforts aimed at those segments of the People of God most exposed to proselytism by the sects" (EA 72). Along with this he notes, "it is more necessary than ever for all the faithful to move from a faith of habit, sustained perhaps by social context alone, to a faith which is conscious and personally lived" (EA 72). There is also still an urgent need "among those on this continent who do not yet know the name of Jesus" such as "indigenous peoples not yet Christianized or of the presence of non-Christian religions such as Islam, Buddhism or Hinduism, especially among immigrants from Asia" (EA 74).

Apostolic Letter, Novo Millennio Ineunte (2000)

In his Apostolic Letter, Novo Millennio Ineunte, Pope John Paul II names Mary as the "Star of the New Evangelization" (MNI 74). He proposes that a "new apostolic outreach is needed, which will be lived as the everyday commitment of Christian communities and groups" (MNI 40). Christianity will have to respond effectively to inculturation, and to the pastoral care of young people (MNI 41). The Church must become a witness to love, the home and the school of communion. We need to promote vocations to the priesthood and consecrated life as well as the specific vocation of the laity (MNI 46). In relation to this, "another important aspect of communion is the promotion of forms of association, whether of the more traditional kind or the newer ecclesial movements, which continue to give the Church a vitality that is God's gift and a true 'springtime of the Spirit'" (MNI 46). Special attention should also be given to the pastoral care of families.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Failed condom campaigns


Chinwuba Iyizoba | Thursday, 2 April 2009

link to www.mercatornet.com

Bleak stories behind failed condom campaigns

Before blanketing the continent with condoms to stop AIDS, why don't you live in rural Africa for a while? 

Sub-Saharan Africa has two-thirds of the world's HIV/AIDS cases. So you would think that Western journalists and politicians might condescend to ask us what we think about how to fight AIDS. But they haven't. A pity, because they would have found that many of us support Pope Benedict XVI's scepticism about the effectiveness of distributing condoms. [more]

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Dissent from the Magisterium


All teachers in Catholic schools are catechists. The following post explains the role of the catechist in the Church and the proper attitude all Catholics should have toward the Magisterium.