Metropolitan mission - The new evangelization in Europe

2011-07-12 L’Osservatore Romano

To avoid the risk of the new evangelization becoming just another formula adapted for every season, it is important that it be filled with content which informs the pastoral action of the different Christian communities. In this sense, everyday pastoral work, which has always animated the life of the Church, must renew its ways of presenting itself and implementing its activities.

Benedict XVI, speaking to the first plenary assembly of the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization, said that it was of decisive importance to go beyond the fragmentation of society and offer concrete answers to the great challenges of today. To fill this need, a “metropolitan mission” has been put into action. The goal is simple: to give a sign of unity among the diverse dioceses present in the largest European cities that have been particularly affected by secularization.

At the moment, the initiative is limited to some of the larger European dioceses in order more concretely test its effectiveness. The project, however, should eventually extend beyond the borders of the old continent, albeit with modalities which respect the different cultural and ecclesial traditions.

The choice of Europe has been determined by the fact that two synods have already reflected on the current situation. In 1991 and 1999, the bishops openly analyzed not only the social and cultural conditions of European countries but especially the way in which the Church could provide an adequate response. With Ecclesia in Europa, John Paul II indicated the way to recuperate a unified commitment of the Churches.

In this sense, the “metropolitan mission” intends to be a first step. It will be achieved through common and contemporaneous initiatives, in ordinary pastoral work with special attention to formation, and through public activities offered to the city during Lent 2012. The idea of these common initiatives which will take place at the same time in different cities, adds a original note to pastoral work. It is a pastoral experience which wants to place all of the Christian community in a state of evangelization.

The cathedral will be the place of these activities. Firstly, through a continual reading of the Gospels, to place the Word of God at the center. Then, three catechisms of the bishop dedicated to young people, to families and to catechumens on the themes of faith; then, a celebration of the sacrament of reconciliation to draw attention to confession and for its high anthropological value. An activity of charity will complete the experience to demonstrate that faith that is professed and prayed is also witnessed. Finally, a sign of spirituality of a cultural character will be given by the reading of various significant texts, such as excerpts from the Confessions of St. Augustine.

These initiatives will begin in the cathedral because of its important symbolic significance, but the intention is to extend them to the parishes of the dioceses for a more direct impact in the territory. The “metropolitan mission” wants to reach all those who live the faith but often in a way that lacks awareness of how this can infuse their style of life and those who, though far from the faith, are nonetheless attracted by the person of Jesus Christ, because with him they also encounter his Church. Thanks to this initiative, the dioceses work together on a common project, strengthened by their individual experiences of the past, they sustain each other in the common difficulties they encounter. They look to the future with the hope of unity and with the intention of recuperating a sense of involvement and responsibility, favoring the creative and credible contribution of Christians.

By Archbishop Rino Fisichella, President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization