An April 6 Catholic Standard (Washington, D.C.) article summarized a speech titled "Why a 'New Evangelization' Now" by Washington Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl at Catholic University on March 28. See the article below.
From: Catholic Standard Date: April 6, 2011 Author: Richard SzczepanowskiBecause materialism, secularism, and individualism are "rapidly enveloping our society and culture," Washington Cardinal Donald Wuerl urged the faithful to actively participate in the Church's New Evangelization efforts "to proclaim the Gospel anew.""This is a time when voices need to be heard that say there is an anchor, a basis, a moral foundation for the choices we make," Cardinal Wuerl said last week in an address at the Catholic University of America. The "subtle influences" or barriers of materialism, secularism and individualism, he added, "need to be cleared away before we can plant the seeds" of faith.Cardinal Wuerl delivered his talk - "Why the New Evangelization Now?" - on March 28 to the D.C. Council of the Knights of Columbus. The address was attended by more than 200 Knights along with university students and staff. They showed their appreciation of the talk with a standing ovation.Quoting Pope Benedict XVI, Cardinal Wuerl said that the New Evangelization is "an effort to re-propose the Gospel - what we do and how we express our faith - to hearers who already know the faith and it holds no interest for them."Last June, the pope announced that he was establishing a pontifical council for new evangelization to promote "a renewed evangelization" to people "living through a progressive secularization of society and a kind of eclipse of the sense of God."Two months later, Cardinal Wuerl took up Pope Benedict's call and issued a pastoral letter, "Disciples of the Lord: Sharing the Vision," in which he outlined his vision for a New Evangelization. In that pastoral, the cardinal urged the faithful to "invite others to hear once again, maybe all over again for the first time, the exciting invitation of Jesus - 'Come, follow me.' ""Strengthened by the summons of Jesus and by love of our neighbor, it is our call to reach out again, in charity and truth, to our brothers and sisters who have been away from the practice of their faith so that the Church may bear abundant fruit for each person, each parish and for our society," the archbishop wrote in that pastoral.In his address last week to the Knights of Columbus, Cardinal Wuerl said "the New Evangelization is not a program. It is a mode of thinking, seeing and experiencing." He called it "a lens through which we see the opportunities to proclaim the Gospel anew. Don't think of it as some task - it is a recognition that the Holy Spirit is actively working in the Church."He said the religious values espoused by the Church can address "the challenges of today." Pointing to recent attempts in the state of Maryland to legalize same-sex marriage, the cardinal lamented those efforts because "they seek to redefine, to change the basic meaning of marriage. We live in a society where a 51 percent majority can determine reality."The Maryland House of Delegates earlier this month failed to reach a vote on a bill that would have permitted same-sex couples in the state to marry. Lawmakers sent it back to the House Judiciary Committee, effectively defeating the measure during this legislative year.Cardinal Wuerl said that while same-sex couples and other unions can be called "domestic partnerships" or any other such label, "some words' meanings, like 'marriage,' simply cannot be changed by a vote of the majority. You can't change reality just by changing names and words."He also said the Church's New Evangelization efforts can refute "the arrogant claims of secularism to be the only legitimate voice in the public square.""We are inter-related and we have obligations to one another," Cardinal Wuerl said. "This is what the Church is talking about. This is what the pope is talking about."He said the Sermon on the Mount "offers a vision of life that truly inspires us.""Here (in the Sermon on the Mount presented in Matthew's Gospel), we are challenged to envision a world where not only the hungry are fed, the thirsty are given drink, the stranger is welcomed and the naked are clothed, but also most amazingly sins are forgiven and eternal life is pledged," Cardinal Wuerl said.He said that the New Evangelization is different than evangelization "which brings the word of God to those who do not yet know anything about Jesus Christ." The New Evangelization, he said, "is bringing the Word back to those who have moved away from the Church, those who have been baptized, but not sufficiently evangelized.""The Church has received this solemn mandate of Christ to proclaim the saving truth from the Apostles and must carry it out to the very ends of the earth," the cardinal said, noting that Catholics must share the faith "with every individual and with all humanity."He said that in order to be successful in their New Evangelization efforts, Catholics must "know the faith well enough to be comfortable in sharing it. We have to know who Christ is"The "starting point" of this New Evangelization, Cardinal Wuerl said, "is recognizing that God still speaks to His people, that God speaks to us today.""The Church is saying something that no one else is saying," he said. "The Church is the voice which transmits the Word to the world. With all the excitement of those first evangelists, we are to receive that Word."He said the Church's proclamation of the Word can be seen in its social justice teaching which "has helped to influence much of the development of social justice in large parts of the world and certainly in our own nation." The new ecclesial movements such as Communion and Liberation, Opus Dei and the Neocatecumenal Way, he said, "point to the work of the Holy Spirit in the Church today. The Spirit is saying, 'folks, there is a lot more to life.' "Recalling the exhortation Pope Benedict XVI issued last September in Scotland, Cardinal Wuerl said that Catholics "must never lose sight of their calling to use their gifts talents and experience in the service of the faith, engaging a contemporary society that needs desperately to hear there is a life of joy.""God is calling His Church today to renew her efforts for the salvation of everyone," Cardinal Wuerl said. "At the heart of our conviction is our faith that we proclaim at every Mass: 'Christ has died, Christ has risen, Christ will come again.' Be proud of who you are."