By Bishop Thomas Zinkula
In a recent Christmas message to the Roman Curia, Pope Francis spoke about evangelization. He said the heart of the reform of the Curia, and the first and most important task of the Church, is evangelization. As St. Paul VI stated: “Evangelizing is in fact the grace and vocation proper to the Church, her deepest identity. She exists in order to evangelize.” Pope Francis considers Evangelii Nuntiandi (“The Joy of the Gospel”) to be “the most important pastoral document of the [post-Vatican II] period.”
The aim of the current reform is that “the Church’s customs, ways of doing things, times and schedules, language and structures can be suitably channeled for the evangelization of today’s world rather than for her self-preservation. The renewal of structures demanded by pastoral conversion can only be understood in this light: as part of an effort to make them more mission-oriented” (Evangelii Gaudium, 27).
In his message to the Curia, the Holy Father distinguished between “a Christian world and a world yet to be evangelized.” But that situation no longer exists today. “People who have not yet received the Gospel message do not live only in non-Western continents; they live everywhere.” The Pope explained, “Christendom no longer exists!
Today we are no longer the only ones who create culture, nor are we in the forefront or those most listened to. We need a change in our pastoral mindset…. We are no longer living in a Christian world, because … faith is often rejected, derided, marginalized and ridiculed.”
Pope Francis quoted Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, who spoke about “a profound crisis of faith that has affected many people.” This crisis requires the fostering of “a renewed evangelization in the countries where the first proclamation of the faith has already resonated and where Churches with an ancient foundation exist but are experiencing the progressive secularization of society and a sort of ‘eclipse of the sense of God.’” As Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI acknowledged, we continue to face a challenge to “finding appropriate means to propose anew the perennial truth of Christ’s Gospel.”
This is why Vision 20/20 is such an important initiative. Given the situation in our part of the world today, what is desperately needed is a new evangelization or a re-evangelization.