The New Evangelization: Success or Failure – It will depend…


October 8, 2012 by eneubauer

The Synod of Bishops – discussing the New Evangelization

I have been very excited about the New Evangelization since it was announced, first by Pope John Paul II and now by Pope Benedict XVI.  As a matter of fact, it was Pope Paul VI who wrote Evangelii Nuntiandi and made it plain that it was the job of his pontificate to encourage the “brethren in their mission as evangelizers, in order that, in this time of uncertainty and confusion, they may accomplish this task with ever-increasing love, zeal and joy.”  I am so pumped that our current Pope is accurately assessing the signs of our time and has made it his aim to promote a forward learning vision for the Church in the 21st century.

 According to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops:

The New Evangelization calls each of us to deepen our faith, believe in the Gospel message and go forth to proclaim the Gospel. The focus of the New Evangelization calls all Catholics to be evangelized and then go forth to evangelize. In a special way, the New Evangelization is focused on ‘re-proposing’ the Gospel to those who have experienced a crisis of faith. Pope Benedict XVI called for the re-proposing of the Gospel “to those regions awaiting the first evangelization and to those regions where the roots of Christianity are deep but who have experienced a serious crisis of faith due to secularization.” The New Evangelization invites each Catholic to renew their relationship with Jesus Christ and his Church.

For review, the call to the New Evangelization is a challenge for all Catholics to:

  • Deepen their faith in Christ
  • Believe the Gospel message
  • Proclaim the “Good News”

In addition, the Pope has identified geographic areas in which Catholics are to go:

  • Historic strongholds of Christianity
  • Regions where Christianity has yet to spread

In order for the New Evangelization to be fully realized Catholics must internalize this call and then find creative ways to live it out.

Let me explain: 

First, Pope Benedict in communion with the Bishops has stated that two things need to happen before the third goal of the New Evangelization (proclaiming the Good News) can be fully implemented.  This is where I would like the conversation to begin.

Catholics are being called to renew their faith in Christ and the Catholic Church which has certain implications.  This call recognizes that our current level of adult faith formation is insufficient for the task ahead.  We must accept this fact, admit that we have been lax in our own personal, spiritual development and take steps to correct this situation.  The U.S. Bishops have written a pastoral letter entitled, “Our Hearts Were Burning Within Us” which outlines the vision of lifelong faith formation for adults.  Once we admit the importance of this principle and recognize our own insufficiencies, then we are primed to do something about it.  With the proliferation of web-based learning opportunities, parishes which offer a wide variety of faith formation options and diocesan resources there are plenty of ways to accomplish personal formation – even in the midst of a busy life.  Remember, it is in active faith renewal that we begin the process of internalizing the Gospel in such a way that the Good News is both lived and shared most naturally.  

Once we experience personal renewal in our Catholic faith then we are prepared to take the next steps.  First, we are called to go into geographic regions where Christianity was the root of culture and society.  We are being called to re-evangelize these regions in whatever sphere of society we find ourselves in.  In addition, this is an opportunity for local parishes to developed a strategic plan on how they are going to effectively:

  • Re-engage non-practicing Catholics
  • Reach out to the non-religious in ways that speak to felt needs or stated concerns.
  • Engage the city or neighborhoods in which they live in such a way as to ensure the Gospel of Christ is being felt by all – ensuring that the parish community is a welcoming hub for those seeking the truth.

Second, the Pope asks that we consider how to take this message of hope to places awaiting the “first evangelization.”  Places that are not familiar with the Gospel and its ability to radically impact the individual and community.  Therefore we must raise up, train and send missionaries to the regions of the world awaiting their invitation for the first time.  This means a dedication of resources for the development of missionary priests, religious and laymen to gain the experience necessary for such an assignment.  Remember, we are called by Christ Himself into the whole world (near & far).

Finally, we must recognize that the New Evangelization is a mobilization of the entire Body of Christ.  The Catholic Church will only be successful and society will only benefit if we see within this call an individual mandate to actively participate.  May God strengthen us for the task ahead.

12 thoughts on “The New Evangelization: Success or Failure – It will depend…

  1. Excellent, Eric, it is wonderful to engage in carrying the good news to every pat of creation fulflling Christ’s mandate to freely give as we have freely received from Christ. I love the commission at the end of the Mass each week when we are all reminded that the Mass is ended and now it is time to go out and share our lives with the world; the world of family and friends, neighbours and local community, and work colleagues. Wonderful. A timely blog!

    • eneubauer says:

      I too love that reminder at the end of mass. I pray that familiarity will not bind us to inaction but encourage us to really think about how we might be part of fulfilling the Matthew mandate to GO into all the world and share the Gospel message in word and deed. I am super happy y’all are going and enjoying. Much love!

  2. […] The New Evangelization: Success or Failure, It Will Depend – E. Neubauer, 21 Cntr Plgr […]

  3. Templar says:

    We just celebrated the feast day of Our Lady of the Rosary. On July 13, 1917, Our Lady of the Rosary gave the children at Fatima a vision of Hell. Then She said these words, “You have seen Hell where the souls of poor sinners go. To save them, God wishes to establish in the world, devotion to My Immaculate Heart.” Has the devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary been established throughout the world? No. Will the new evangelization succeed? That depends. Will the Holy Father use this opportunity to encourage the Catholics of the world to pray the Rosary daily, wear the Brown Scapular, and make Communions of reparation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary? Our Lady of the Rosary answered the prayers Pope St Pius V on October 7, 1571 and gave an overwhelming victory to the Papal Fleet at Lepanto. Our Lady of the Rosary will give Pope Benedict XVI a similar victory, but he has to do his part. Nothing has changed since 1917. Our Lady waits for the Holy Father to take the initiative and grant God’s wish.

  4. Mark J says:

    Yes, it will depend…. It will depend on a lot of things, the first thing being IF our clergy will start acting like leaders and stop preying on our Catholic children. It will depend on IF we lay folk will start holding our clergy leaders to a higher standard of leadership (as it stands their despicable behavior is making the jobs of evangelists VERY HARD). It will depend on IF our clergy starts putting a MUCH greater emphasis on youth and young adult ministries for 35% of those 17 to 24 don’t even identify with a religion anymore, yet they are the future of our church and the source of the very most energy to evangelize. It will depend on IF Catholics are able to stop IMposing the faith and start PROposing it (as PJPII said to do) so people are not repelled by holier-than-thou Catholic piety. It will depend on IF church leaders are willing to endorse and promote Catholic lay evangelists who are better speakers and leaders than themselves. And most of all it will depend on IF the church is willing to shift its culture to one of developing Catholic men to lead in the home and community, rather than play golf and watch football while their wives go to church on Sunday and do all the volunteering. I could go on and on. We have a LOT of work to do

    • eneubauer says:

      Dear Mark J,

      I am always grateful when folks take time to respond to the ideas that I am proposing in my articles. That being said I would like to respond to you – in particular in regard to your clergy comment.

      Of course we need to work together to improve our clergy’s ability to lead by properly equipping them in seminary and beyond. We need to develop a spirit of Faith Formation in each parish so as to encourage adults to embrace the idea of Life Long Faith Formation.

      Finally, while all of us condemn the horrific scandals within the Church regarding clergy, let’s NOT place all clergy together as if they are all part of the problem. While there are wolves in our midst we have so many GREAT clergy members worldwide that are working tirelessly in full commitment to their call, those they Shepard and the Church. In our frustration over certain problems that usually develop at the parish level – we cannot place our frustrations over certain issues like a blanket over all issues. While the Church is recovering from scandal the Church is also growing, attracting young adults to the priesthood and religious life, many RCIA programs are full of those wanting to convert and there is a growing hunger that is just waiting for us to foster, encourage and feed. I for one am excited and hopeful about the future of the Church in the next 5, 10 and 15 years. We have some great years ahead with some great leaders leading the Church in the here and now.

      Pray for BXVI, the Bishops, Priests and Religious + our lay professionals that have committed their lives to full service for the sake of the Church.

      • Mark J says:

        Again, predatory priests are making it HARD on evangelists like myself. I’m tired of having to explain the ridiculous behavior of some church leaders. How do you think people would treat a company whose company officers were always in the news for attacking children? What kind of salesperson would be comfortable trying to sell their product? We don’t see the Mormon leaders in the news every day for a new child attack. This stuff is ridiculous . I’m sick of this deplorable behavior. Of course I’m praying. I always pray. But enough is enough!

      • eneubauer says:


        I will not argue the “why” behind what we see in relation to abuse cases in the media connected to the Catholic Church and not other religious communities. However, I will not be silent on the facts: Child abuse is horrific and is still happening (inside & outside) of religious communities at a rate that is unbelievable. I heard news just yesterday that upwards of 200,000 cases per year still go unreported in the US. This is unacceptable. In addition, abuse cases are being reported and prosecuted in other religious communities, in the public school system, at colleges etc, etc, etc. To argue that this is somehow a Catholic problem is the height of ignorance and diminishes a problem that is global in scope. This is why the recognition of the unique dignity of the human person is so important – from conception to natural death (a doctrine unique to the Catholic Church). Finally, this is an article about the New Evangelization. The New Evangelization will go forward and we can be proud of the Safe Environment policies that have been put in place, policies that are some of the strongest if not the strongest of all organization caring for children and vulnerable adult populations!

  5. Mark, I can sense your frustration and tend to agree in part. However, having worked as an evangelist in the UK Evangelical church over the last 35 years plus, I feel that we may place too high an expectation on leaders. We see in the Evangelical church, leaders committing adultery, leaving their wives and families as they discover they are Gay, and molesting children both girls and boys. The fact that the Mormon church is not in the news everyday may well be because they are operating a policy of covering up such things. One thing we all respect about the Catholic Church is that now the secrecy has been broken they appear to be operating in a transparent way and attempting to clean their act up.

    Problem is we are all sinners. Pope, bishop, priest, religious and lay. How seriously we take the claims of Christ is reflected in the degree to which we walk in openness about our frailty and sinfulness. As the evangelist John says, ‘Walk in the light’. Learning this walk is hard since we like to both decidve ourselves and others. Also the higher profile or position we hold the more secretive we often become since the cost of open confession may be loss of face and position.

    The Episcopalean diocese of Chichester near wher I live is facing massive criticism for the way it covered up child abuse carried out by its clergy, yet even now it is slow to invite close scrutiny and allow a full investigation. I have heard of Evangelical events where suspicions of child abuse have been ignored and quietly buried, something that cannot happen easily in UK now with the high level of safeguarding rules.

    My main point however is that we are sinful and totally dependent on God’s grace. I find myself now journeying towards membership of the Catholic Church because in all my experiences it seems best able to address many of the challenges, social, economic and psychological, that everyday people face. It can never be perfect, will always contain corrupt clergy and laity, yet can and must continue to proclaim the gospel of truth and grace, especially as we enter this year of faith. My prayers are with you, and also for all who seek to follow Christ faithfully in uncertain times.

  6. Templar says:

    If you will recall, Our Lady of La Salette predicted that, “Priests will become cesspools of impurity”. The reasons were given, Catholics working on Sundays and Catholics taking God’s name in vain. By now that list is much longer. So we need to stop sinning. People just aren’t going to stop sinning, they need proven weapons against sin like the holy rosary. Our Lady of the Rosary came in person to tell us what we needed to do. The Pope has to take the lead and get the flock headed in the right direction or it just gets worse.

    • eneubauer says:

      What we need is to turn our eyes to Jesus, repent, form our spiritual lives so we become mature Christians and then go forward and share the Good News.

      • Jim McGovern says:

        Many Catholics need to rediscover their faith and 1 hour at Sunday Mass will not make it happen. Our Blessed Mother has given us the answer – rosary, frequent communion, Sacred Heart devotion and personal prayer. For tough cases try fasting. Suggest reading a Catholic book once a month. also try a Catholic prayer site.

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