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A free outlook on the world

· The meeting of new evangelizers ·

The conference organized last Saturday by the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization was particularly festive and warm: a moment of reciprocal recognition, a reinforcement of a shared mission and a confirmation that – as was repeated by many – only a heart which is on fire with love for God can transmit to others the force of a faith which is always, also, passion.

In a secularized society, on an afternoon in which Rome was burning with destructive fury, an authentic enthusiasm re-charged the new evangelizers, often young lay people, but also old parish priests, founders and leaders of movements. But, although culture was identified by everyone as the important terrain in which to operate, it was the introductory remarks of Archbishop Rino Fisichella that indicated the work and guidelines of the new dicastery over which he presides. In his address, culture was interpreted not only as the transmission of the evangelical message, but also as the way in which to read the signs of the times and identify the historical conditions in which it is most useful and efficient to intervene for evangelization. For the President, culture is “reason which knows how to understand the world around it,” reason which is alive with the desire to know, not resigned; reason which moves toward the search for truth.

Along these lines, Monsignor Fisichella shed light on the historical conditions which make the sacrament of reconciliation and the search for a spiritual guide so little used: the loss of a sense of sin, which is born from the lack of a community as a reference point. Today, closed within a self-referential individualism which causes us to consider all that we desire as just, deprived of communal and social responsibility – often even those basic ones in the family context – we no longer know how to extend a hand, humbly, to those who could help us. Nor do we know how to forgive, for small or large things. To forgive others, we all need a personal experience of being forgiven, to experience at least once what it is to be loved and forgiven. This is how we come to know who we really are and not confound desire with reality. Because forgiveness, so necessary in the lives of each one of us, such a fundamental example of Christian life, needs witnesses, a community as a reference point. It is an analysis which makes us reflect on the culture in which we are immersed, and on the forms which the processes of secularization has taken, even indirectly, though in a no less damaging way. In the latest issue of “Le débat” the French psychologist, Sébastien Dupont, denounced the individualist drift which an uncontrolled practice of psychoanalysis has reinforced and confirmed in contemporary society, transforming it into a real and true individualist ideology, in which the myth of personal autonomy has been elevated on the scale of values. With all of its negative effects for the fragile, elderly, “imperfect” newborns, which are fairly well known, but also with the general effect of impoverishing the affective exchange between human beings, that exchange which nourishes hearts and souls. The theme of a reading of history as a moment of necessary analysis for new evangelization returned in Benedict XVI’s beautiful homily addressed to the new evangelizers during the liturgical celebration on Sunday. “The theology of history is an important and essential aspect of the new evangelization, because men of our times, after the evil era of totalitarian regimes in the 20th century, need to recover a comprehensive view of the world and our times, a truly free and pacific outlook.”

To evangelize also means, then, to bring that Catholic outlook to the world, of which Romano Guardini spoke with such clarity. It means to create culture, make history, think in a new way. To aid the understanding of where the world is going and where it is possible to intervene, with culture and with politics.

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St. Peter’s Square

Feb. 22, 2020

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