VATICAN CITY, OCT. 30, 2003 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II says the “new evangelization” needs witnesses of the Gospel who speak more by their deeds than by their words.
The Pope expressed this point today when meeting with 21 Philippine bishops from the ecclesiastical provinces of Manila, Lingaven-Dagupan, Nueva Segovia, San Fernando, Tuguegarao and the military ordinariate. It was the third and final group of bishops from the Asian country to make their five-yearly visit to Rome.
The Holy Father addressed the bishops of the country “which is home to the largest Catholic presence in Asia and is one of the most vibrant Catholic communities in the world,” committed to “renewed integral evangelization.”
“The new evangelization clearly recognizes that an essential element of this process is witness,” the Pope said. “Today’s world is one that is constantly bombarded with words and information. For this reason and possibly more than at any time in recent history, the things Christians do speak louder than the things they say.”
“Perhaps this is the reason that the life of Mother Teresa of Calcutta speaks to so many hearts,” he added. “She put what she heard into action, spreading Christ’s love to all those she encountered, always recognizing that it is not how much we do, but how much love we put into what we do that matters.”
“Indeed, people today put more trust in witnesses than in teachers, in experience than in teaching, and in life and action than in theories,” the Holy Father said. “Therefore, a loving witness of the Christian life will always remain the first and irreplaceable form of mission.”
“Men and women of today desire role models of authentic witness to the Gospel. They have a longing to be more like Christ and this is apparent in the many ways Filipino Catholics express their faith,” the Pope continued.
“An example of the effort to bring Christ to others is found in the Church’s development of social welfare programs for the poor and outcast, at both national and local levels,” he added.
The Holy Father concluded by illustrating some of the challenges facing the Church in the Philippines, as it carries out the new evangelization.
Specifically, John Paul II mentioned “the participation of some Catholics in sects which witness only to the superstitious; the lack of familiarity with the teachings of the Church; the endorsement by some of anti-life attitudes which include the active promotion of birth control, abortion, and the death penalty.”
In sum, he added, the challenge consists in overcoming “the persistent dichotomy between faith and life.”