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Quotes and news

The 13th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops was opened by Pope Benedict last Sunday. The synod’s theme is New Evangelisation for the Transmission of the Christian Faith. The following are extracts from different speeches delivered during the synod.

Needed: a passion for announcing Christ

Pope Benedict, during his address inaugurating the synod said the new evangelisation should be characterised by the passion for announcing Christ to the world and the knowledge that God acts in the Church.

Faith, the Pope said, “must become a flame of love within us, a flame which burns in our lives and is propagated to our neighbours.

“This is the essence of evangelisation. How to communicate this truth (God’s love) to the men and women of our time that they might learn of salvation? …We can only make known what He did. The Church did not begin with our actions but with the actions and word of God.”

The Pope said there is need to bear witness even in dangerous situations. “It is precisely such witness in moments of difficulty that is a guarantee of credibility, because it implies a readiness to give our lives for that in which we believe.”

Faith crisis caused by a ‘secular tsunami’

The synod’s relator general, Cardinal Donald Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington, DC, emphasised that “our proclamation is focused on Jesus, his Gospel and his way. Christian life is defined by an encounter with Jesus.”

He then told a press conference the current crisis of faith can be attributed to a “tsunami of secular influence that has swept across the cultural landscape”. Speaking on his experience as Archbishop of Washington, DC, the cardinal said traditional elements, such as family, marriage and the natural moral order have been greatly diminished due to the influence of secularism.

‘Europe must be evangelised. It needs it’

Cardinal Péter Erdõ, president of the Council of European Episcopal Conferences, said: “Europe must be evangelised. It needs it.

“De-Christianisation is accompanied by repeated juridical, as well as physical, attacks against the visible presence of the manifestations of faith.

“The vast majority of cases of violence and of discrimination because of religious belief are acted out against Christians, especially Catholics, in Europe. In the majority of the continent, there is a spreading of ignorance about the Christian faith.

“Many of the mass media broadcast a presentation of the Christian faith and history that is full of lies, misinforming the public as to the content of our faith as well as to what makes up the reality of the Church.”

Responding to a crisis

Cardinal John Tong Hon of Hong Kong said: “In Hong Kong, before the return of the sovereignty of the city to China in 1997, many families faced crises caused by fear of living under the Communist regime.

The term ‘crisis’ in the Chinese language is made up of two characters: ‘danger’ and ‘opportunity’.

Thus, facing the crisis of in-security, even non-practising Catholics returned to the Church for spiritual support.

And many faithful attended catechesis, Bible and theology courses to deepen their own faith and to be evangelisers.

“Today our diocese has more than 1,000 well-trained volunteer catechists.

“This year more than 3,000 adults received baptism at the Easter Vigil.”

(Compiled by Fr Joe Borg)

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