LAST month Pope Benedict XVI formally instituted a new dicastery or a new department at the Roman Curia named the “Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization.” Apparently, this has been in his mind for sometime now, perhaps taking cue from the Novo millennio ineunte of his predecessor, now Blessed John Paul II. Expectedly, this dicastery will become very handy during the forthcoming 13th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops in October 2012 that will dwell on the topic “New Evangelization for the Transmission of the Christian Faith.”
Human nature has not escalated a bit. And history has been repeating itself rather consistently. “What was, will be again, what has been done, will be done again, and there is nothing new under the sun,” or so says Qoheleth in Ecclesiastes. But in the last decade, or even farther down to the Second Vatican Council, the mode of understanding and expression in the context of rapid technological advances had been incomparable in time. Secularism, for instance, would have been understood and expressed differently, and perhaps more sluggishly if loosely during the time of the galleons of the colonials than, say, the Facebook that circulates influence in a “viral” way—as viral as the contagious Arab spring in the Middle East that is continuing today or the total demolition of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Columbia (FARC) in 2009.
During the first plenary assembly of the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization held last month at the Vatican, the Holy Father addressed the participants: “The crisis being experienced bears in itself traces of the exclusion of God from people's lives, of a generalized indifference toward the Christian faith itself, to the point of attempting to marginalize it from public life. In past decades it was still possible to discover a general Christian sense that unified the common feeling of whole generations, growing up in the shadow of the faith that had molded the culture. Today, unfortunately, we are witnessing the drama of a fragmentation that no longer consents to a unified point of reference; moreover, we often see the phenomenon of persons who wish to belong to the Church, but are strongly molded by a vision of life that opposes the faith.”
The crisis that the Pope mentions is, of course, viral. Which is why, it is kind of alarming. Thus, taking note of this, he stressed that the New Evangelization need to address “the need for a renewed method of proclamation, especially for those who live in a context, such as the present one, in which the developments of secularization have left heavy traces even in countries with a Christian tradition… New Evangelization will have to be responsible for finding the methods to make the proclamation of salvation more effective, without which personal existence remains in its state of contradiction, deprived of the essential.”
A legislator who, on National TV, proclaimed at the floor “I am congressman who happens to be a catholic but not a Catholic Congressman” is not too far from the case in point.