Pope tells Italian bishops the new evangelisation is a challenge in a secular societyFriday, May 25th, 2012
"When not met with indifference, closure or rejection, discourse about God is relegated to the subjective sphere, reduced to an intimate and private affair which is marginalised from the public conscience.
The heart of the crisis affecting Europe also arises from this abandonment, this lack of openness to the Transcendent. So said the Holy Father when he received participants in the sixty-fourth general assembly of the Italian Episcopal Conference on Thursday.
He spoke about the challenges of the new evangelisation in a society increasingly distanced from God saying, "At a time in which God has, for many people, become the great unknown and Jesus is simply an important figure of the past, we cannot re-launch missionary activity without renewing the quality of our own faith and prayer. We will not be able to win mankind to the Gospel unless we ourselves first return to a profound experience of God.
The Pope recalled that this autumn is the fiftieth anniversary of the opening of Vatican Council II, and he told the Bishops to implement its teachings in order to meet the social and cultural transformations of our time.
He said societies that have ancient Christian traditions are today characterised by secularism, so the spiritual and moral heritage that lies at the roots of the West, "is no longer understood in its profound significance, and a rich soil risks becoming an inhospitable desert.
Benedict XVI said there has been a drop in religious practice and diminishing participation in the sacraments. Many question Church teaching, others reduce the Kingdom of God to certain broad values.
He also highlighted the fact that, "new methods of announcing the Gospel or of pastoral activity are not enough to ensure that the Christian message finds greater acceptance.
Rather people must do as the Council Fathers said, "Begin again from God, celebrated, professed and witnessed. The old and new mission facing us is that of introducing the men and women of our time to a relationship with God.
by Ann Marie Foley