Evangelization Is Challenge for Church in Scotland, Pope Says

Culture Must Be Changed, He Tells Bishops During Their Visit to Rome

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VATICAN CITY, MARCH 4, 2003 (Zenit.org).- In response to the so-called end of Christian society in the West, John Paul II made an urgent appeal for the «new evangelization» of Scotland.

When he met today with the Scottish bishops, who were on their five-yearly visit to the Holy See, the Pope gave his analysis of the crisis and proposed ways for the Church to meet the challenge.

Based on the reports he received earlier from the Scottish bishops, the Pontiff said: «we may observe that in Scotland, as in many lands evangelized centuries ago and steeped in Christianity, there no longer exists the reality of a Christian society.»

«Modern civilization, although highly developed from the standpoint of technology, is often stunted in its inner depths by a tendency to exclude God or keep him at a distance,» he said.

According to the Pope, this is reflected in «the crisis of civilization,» a «crisis which must be countered by the civilization of love, founded on the universal values of peace, solidarity, justice and liberty, which find their full attainment in Christ.»

«The new evangelization to which I have summoned the whole Church can prove a particularly effective instrument for helping to usher in this civilization of love,» the Pope asserted.

John Paul II continued his address by offering guidelines to carry out the new evangelization.

Above all, he said, «the new evangelization, as all authentic Christian evangelization, must be marked by hope.»

«For it is Christian hope that sustains the proclamation of the liberating truth of Christ, enlivens faith communities, and enriches society with the values of the Gospel of life, which always upholds the dignity of the human person and enhances the common good,» the Pope explained.

«In this way, Christian life itself is revitalized and pastoral initiatives are more readily directed toward their one true end: holiness,» he added.

«The concept of holiness should not be thought of as something extraordinary, as something outside the bounds of normal everyday life,» he continued. «For God calls his people to lead holy lives within the ordinary circumstances in which they find themselves: at home, in the parish, in the workplace, at school, on the playing field.»

Another «important aspect of the new evangelization is the deeply felt need for an evangelization of culture,» the Holy Father stressed.

«The communication of values is what enables a culture to survive and flourish,» he said. «In societies where faith and religion are seen as something that should be restricted to the private sphere, and therefore as having no place in public or political debate, it is of even greater importance that the Christian message should be clearly understood for what it is: the Good News of truth and love which sets men and women free.»

In giving public witness and in serving society, he said, Catholics must have «a true spirit of ecumenical cooperation» and «interreligious commitment and partnership» for serving the human family.

Moreover, the Pope added, in «the task of the new evangelization, there is perhaps no group to which you will want to be more attentive and show more concern than your young people.»

«The powerful forces of the media and the entertainment industry are aimed largely at young people, who find themselves the target of competing ideologies which seek to condition and influence their attitudes and actions,» he said.

«Confusion is created as youth are beset by moral relativism and religious indifferentism,» he observed. «How can they come to grips with the question of truth and the requirements of consistency in moral behavior when modern culture teaches them to live as though absolute values did not exist, or tells them to be content with a vague religiosity?»

«The saving message of Jesus Christ needs to be heard anew in all its freshness and power, so that it can be fully experienced and savored,» the Pontiff said.

Lastly, among his proposals for the new evangelization, the Pope stressed «the revitalization of Christian life.»

This means that «joint efforts on the part of bishops, priests, deacons, religious and laity are essential for addressing issues of grave concern not only to the Church but for the whole of Scottish society,» he emphasized.

«Marriage and family life represent two areas where such cooperation is not only advisable but necessary,» John Paul II urged.

Lastly, in this context, the Pope highlighted the fact that «priestly formation of course remains one of your highest priorities.»

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