Thursday, October 18, 2012
Synod on Evangelisation - Comments of Irish Bishops
The challenge of language is especially felt in those countries where English dominates, characterized by linguistic philosophies with known epistemological challenges. There is however a further challenge of the day-to-day language, not just of the media, but of a culture of the manipulation of language and the management of information where the meaning of words is changed and manipulated for commercial, ideological or political motives.
The concern I wish to particularly address is the challenge that this manipulation of language represents for young people in their search for the message of Jesus Christ. Young people live in a culture of relativism and indeed banalization of the truth often without even being aware of it. It is a culture which they did not create. They may not know any other culture, yet they must find Christ in the midst of this culture while they have little familiarity with the language of faith.
I am not thinking here of the large groups of young people who have found strength and support in events such as World Youth Day, but of the many young men and women who, at what is a complex and difficult time in their lives, in their search for meaning find themselves very much alone among their classmates and fellow students and indeed may experience hostility and incomprehension as they try to find or maintain their faith in Jesus Christ.
Where are we present among the large student population, especially for those whose basic Christian education may well have been all but superficial in either family or school?
The challenge of the New Evangelization must be marked by a robust confrontation of ideas, not in terms of ideological aggression, but in helping young people in the discernment of ideas.
The culture of individualism can be counteracted by the creation of a variety of new ecclesial communities, not just those of the ecclesial movements, but around our parishes, which will be the building blocks of the Eucharistic communities of the future.
The momentum created by the recently held International Eucharistic Congress in Ireland has been further enhanced by the publication of a New National Directory for Catechesis in Ireland titled: Share the Good News. This document from the Bishops Conference is a blueprint for the Church throughout Ireland.
Share the Good News points to the complete statement of faith, the Catechism of the Catholic Church, searching out sure ways of making the treasures to be found in the Catechism more readily available to people in Ireland today. It is also a call to action with the aim of seeking to help members of the Church speak confidently of the Gospel message which each generation of believers must assimilate anew. It is a programme with a ten-year horizon: the first two years are given over to a period of implementation and making the Directory known, followed by full implementation throughout the dioceses of Ireland.
Hand in hand with Share the Good News must go a more profound knowledge and understanding of the Good News as preached and lived in the New Testament. Quoting Verbum Domini #: 51 ... “the church is a community that hears and proclaims the word of God. The Church draws life not from herself but from the Gospel, and from the Gospel she discovers ever anew the direction for her journey” This calls for a fuller and significant biblical apostolate
The Irish Church has lived, and continues to live, the recent crises in a dramatic way. At the same time, we are faced with the same effects of secularisation as many other countries, particularly in Europe. As a result, the church must now speak with a voice which is hopeful yet humble, confident yet compassionate, with a claim to authority that must be more evidently rooted in the Gospel and the love of Christ. This is the context in which the new evangelization will take place.
I hope this Synod will send words of encouragement to all the agents of the New Evangelization, in particular, to the many women who play a significant role in the life of our Church, expressing our gratitude to them for their generous activity in spreading the Gospel in the various settings of daily life where they are centrally present - at work, in schools, in the family and in healthcare. These, and other committed members of our faith communities, expect and await a message of hope and encouragement from this Synod, as we invite them to engage with evangelical courage the new evangelization in the different Aeropagii of our time.
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