What is the New Evangelization?

Authored by Ralph Martin in Issue #1.1 of The Catechetical Review

The stated focus of The Catechetical Review is: Communicating Christ for a New Evangelization. For its inaugural issue, I thought it fitting to give a clear answer to a question often asked by many, even in cathechetical circles, “What exactly is the new evangelization?”
Some Background

The Council Fathers of Vatican II placed significant emphasis on evangelization, as is evident in the published documents that followed. In fact, when the post-conciliar popes describe the fundamental purpose of Vatican II, they often describe it as renewal for the sake of evangelization. At its heart, this renewal is actualized through understanding and living the universal call to holiness. As Gaudium et Spes puts it:

Although by the power of the Holy Spirit the Church will remain the faithful spouse of her Lord and will never cease to be the sign of salvation on earth, still she is very well aware that among her members, both clerical and lay, some have been unfaithful to the Spirit of God during the course of many centuries…led by the Holy Spirit, Mother Church unceasingly exhorts her sons to purify and renew themselves so that the sign of Christ can shine more brightly on the face of the Church (43).

Following a period of radical decline in the traditional missionary work of the Church, Pope Paul VI tried to refocus our attention on the centrality of evangelization in his 1975 apostolic exhortation Evangelii Nuntiandi. In 1990, John Paul II published his encyclical, Redemptoris Missio, to reinvigorate the Church’s work of evangelization both in its traditional missionary settings and in something he referred to as “new evangelization” or “re-evangelization” (33).

Pope Benedict XVI institutionalized the Church’s focus on the new evangelization by establishing a new curial office, the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization. This office has also been charged with the promulgation of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, showing the strong link between evangelization and catechesis. He also dedicated the 2012 Synod of Bishops to the theme of New Evangelization. Pope Francis continues this theme in Evangelii Gaudium, passionately calling the whole Church to move out and share the Good News. He asks, “What are we waiting for?” (120)

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This article is from The Catechetical Review (Online Edition ISSN 2379-6324) and may be copied for catechetical purposes only. It may not be reprinted in another published work without the permission of The Catechetical Review by contacting editor@catechetics.com

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