The New Evangelization is old

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A nice letter from Tornto’s Cardinal Collins inviting teachers to the 12th annual Education Mass at  St.Paul’s Basilica,This will take place just before school on August 28.The event, the idea is to bring Catholic educators at any level together to deepen their understanding of the great vocation.

After the mass there will be a meal and Cardinal Collins will speak on The New Evangelization and Education. The cost of the event(which includes a meal in the parish hall) is $50.00 payable to the Catholic Teachers’Guild  a group not known to most Catholics or to most teachers. No matter the idea is a good one.

Many Catholics are unaware of the New Evangelization but it has been talked about in church circles.Bishops are  directed to promote this. Basically it is about the Church being in a new moment and the means to tap into this in order to promote gospel values. Pope John Paul ll was a big promoter and for him it was  mostly about  the need to “rediscover  and promote the inviolable dignity of every human person” For Catholics this is the Jesus way, the Jesus life to be “the person for others.’The Pope expressed this important role of the laity in a number of documents especially Apostolicam Actuositatem. and the better known Apostolic Exhortation of 1988, Christifideles Laici. 

This all makes sense but one of the major problems is the terrible lack of credibility the institution has among so many people. The New Evangelization largely has come to mean a return to the hierarchical, priest centred-Church. Again and again the ultra conservative groups like Opus Dei, Communio e Liberazione, Focolare,the Neocatechumenate  and the Legionnaires of Christ are seen as models of church. Few have any purchasing power among youth. They are top-down organizations which really don’t understand that we are in the new moment of educated Catholics who are no longer interested  in the old model of “pray, pay and obey.” Catholics demand greater transparency, accountability and a say in how the organization is run. This has not been forthcoming  and so the faithful have been rejecting this tired model by the millions. As we look around Canadian cities the official Catholic church, the majority Canadian church is absent from the great societal issues. The old adage goes, if the Catholic Church doesn’t lead the parade it’s not in it.

The New Evangelization however is taking place.It is by serious Catholics leaving the institution, speaking with their feet loud and clear: Change the channel.You are not connecting. These disaffected ones are telling church leaders to re-engage in society, live the kingdom life, and follow through on Vatican ll.Stop your obsession with pelvic orthodoxy and understand that the greatest moral issue facing us is climate change.The planet’s right to life is paramount.The clerical leadership is not hearing this reverse evangelization of the majority baptized.Their response is to keep pushing the old agenda.The new wine, the new energy is outside the institutions.

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