Sunday, May 16, 2010

Pope calls for new style of evangelization

On a four-day visit to Portugal, Pope Benedict urged Catholics to adopt a more forceful and direct way of evangelizing in a largely secularized society.
In talk after talk, the pope spoke about how to be a missionary in the modern world, challenging Portugal’s Catholic majority — and its bishops — to stop acquiescing in a kind of silent surrender as the faith is marginalized and even ridiculed.
In the northern city of Porto May 14, in the final big event of the trip, the pope told 200,000 people at a Mass that their duty as followers of Christ was to announce his Gospel in every sector of society.
“We need to overcome the temptation to limit ourselves to what we already have, or think we have, that is safely our own: that would be a slow death for the church as a presence in the world,” he said.
Pope Benedict has sometimes been presumed to accept the idea of a smaller but more militant church, supposedly to strengthen the church’s identity. But he made it clear in Portugal that “pruning back” is not his strategic goal.
In Porto, the pope said that to reach out more effectively, the church’s traditional idea of evangelizing must change. In today’s increasingly multicultural societies, he said, the church needs to be able to mix dialogue with proclamation and witness of the faith.
He said the church’s missionary map is no longer geographical, however. Those awaiting the Gospel message are “not only non-Christian populations and distant lands,” but entire social and cultural areas that cut across national or continental boundaries.

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