Barrier to Evangelization Is Bad Example, Says Archbishop Foley

At Conference of Communicators in the Americas

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DALLAS, Texas, FEB. 4, 2003 ( Anyone who aspires to be an instrument of evangelization in today’s world has to be a person of faith — and a would-be saint.

So said Archbishop John Patrick Foley, president of the Pontifical Council for Social Communication. He stressed these two conditions when he addressed the participants of the 5th New Evangelization of America conference.

The event aims to coordinate the efforts of Catholics involved in the new evangelization through the media.

At the meeting held here last Friday and Saturday, Archbishop Foley spoke about the situation of the Church in the United States.

He noted: «The Holy Father once said that investigative reports should seek out not just the hidden sinners but also the hidden saints — because people have need of positive role models.»

The archbishop stressed, however, that the greatest barrier to evangelization in the United States is not an inadequate use of the media.

«The greatest barrier to evangelization today is bad example,» he said. «Our strategy of evangelization must be based upon sanctity, upon our enthusiastic response to Christ’s universal call to holiness.»

Archbishop Foley said that of the 65 million people in the United States who call themselves Catholic, only a third practice their faith. «That is why, if we wish to evangelize the world, each one of us must begin by trying to become a saint,» he stressed.

Referring to the Church crisis in the United States, the archbishop also emphasized that to be instruments of a new evangelization in America, «we must be men and women of faith.»

«We believe in God — and we live in a nation which has for a motto : ‘In God, we trust.’ We believe in Jesus Christ, and we live in a nation in which many other Christians share our faith in the divinity and redemptive power of Jesus Christ,» the archbishop said in a homily Saturday.

«We believe that the Church founded by Christ is divine in its origin but human in its members. We believe that Jesus gave to the imperfect Peter and to the equally imperfect apostles the responsibility to preach, teach and baptize in his name […] and that the Pope has the authority to teach in the name of Jesus and has the responsibility to confirm his brother bishops in the faith,» he continued.

«We believe that we as Christians also have the task not only to live our faith but also to share it. What more precious gift can we give to others than our faith in God, in Our Lord Jesus Christ, and in his Church?» the archbishop asked.

The evangelization conference began with a Mass presided over by Cardinal Nicolás de Jesús López Rodríguez, archbishop of Santo Domingo and primate of America. Concelebrating were 35 archbishops and bishops of the Holy See, the United States, Canada and Latin America.

The cardinal appealed to Catholic communicators to be committed to the new evangelization through the new technologies, «with the same creativity with which St. John Bosco promoted education in his time.»

The opening address was given by Redemptorist Father Thomas Forrest. He summarized the task of the Catholic communicator like this: «to believe in Jesus Christ, to follow him without timidity or stupidity, and then to proclaim him to those who do not know him.»

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