· Cardinal Bertone opens the conference on Europe and the new evangelization, on the fortieth anniversary of the founding of the CCEE ·
“Today in particular, the economic crisis makes evident that a completely self-referential market is unsustainable and, while it raises new questions about the responsibility and ethics of finance, it re-proposes with ever more urgency a fundamental question about the destiny, dignity and spiritual vocation of the human person. The Church intends to positively address this challenge, offering to the whole of society new ways to meet and dialogue, beginning with the Gospel.” For Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, this is the line to maintain in the midst of the crisis that is affecting Europe. The Cardinal’s reflections were offered at the opening of the conference of the Council of the European Bishops’ Conferences (CCEE) and the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization, on Tuesday, November 22 in the St. Pius X hall in via della Conciliazione, at the Vatican. The current historical moment is a call to the very mission of the Church in Europe because, the Cardinal explained, today, “the new evangelization is not only about taking shelter but is a new springtime; a means for appreciating the new shoots that are sprouting in an ancient wood.”
Broadening his gaze over the European horizon, Cardinal Bertone also revealed how today it is, “increasingly difficult to distinguish between truth, error and lies. A certain pluralism does not want to allow a distinction between good and evil. Next to a healthy secularism lies an intolerant secularism.” In fact, “the principle of non-discrimination,” he said, “is often abused as a weapon in the conflict of rights to construct a dictatorship of relativism which tends to exclude God, community and public dimensions of faith or the presence of religious symbols and places itself in open conflict with Christian values: against marriage between a man and a woman, against the defense of life from conception to natural death.”
The Secretary of State brought greetings from the Pope to members of the conference saying that Benedict XVI, “greatly appreciates today’s initiative as another step in the journey of the new evangelization of Europe,” and offered thanks to Cardinal Péter Erdo, primate of Hungary and President of the CCEE, and to Archbishop Salvatore Fisichella, President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization. Together they have organized the seminar on Europe and the new evangelization on the occasion of the celebration of forty years of the Council of European Bishops’ Conferences. An anniversary which Cardinal Bertone said emphasized important prospects for the future, indicating especially the style, “of communion, collegiality and collaboration between the different Bishops’ Conferences and individual bishops, in the various areas of pastoral work and in particular in ecumenical and interreligious dialogue.”
“Since the beginning,” he said, “a priority for the CCEE has been the new evangelization and this forty year anniversary is rightly an invitation to renew that priority. It is particularly dear to the Holy Father.” “The specificity of the new evangelization differentiates it from the ordinary activity of the Church and the mission ad gentes . To the baptized whose faith has been lost and who are no longer practicing, the Gospel must be announced with new ardor, new methods and new expressions. The adjective, “new” should not however make us think that reflection on the past or the priceless patrimony of the experience of the Church is useless. The Gospel says, “Every scribe who has been instructed in the kingdom of heaven, is like the head of a household who brings from his storeroom both the new things and the old.” (Matthew 13:52). The new evangelization, too, needs old things and new things in its storeroom. A Latin proverb says: tempora mutantur et nos mutamur in illis , thus we must always bring from our storeroom new things too.”
“The new evangelization,” explained the Secretary of State, “occurs in a changing world. In our times, we must speak of God in a context that is often indifferent and sometimes hostile. The Holy Father recalled this in his talk on October 15 in the Paul VI hall. But he did not place the accent on the negative, but on trust in the Word of God which, he affirmed, “despite this condition of contemporary man, continues to grow and spread.” He mentioned three reasons for this: the first is that, “the strength of the Word does not first of all depend on our actions, but on God;” the second is that even today there is no lack of “good terrain” which will bring the seed of the Word to produce good fruit; and the third is that, “the Gospel announcement has truly reached the ends of the earth and even in the midst of indifference, misunderstanding and persecution, many continue even today, to courageously open their hearts and minds to the invitation of Christ.” Trust in God, therefore, and in his Word, together with a healthy realism which allows us to recognize obstacles, to try to dismantle prejudice, to prepare the terrain as much as possible before sowing the seeds of the Gospel.”
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