By Salvatore Cernuzio
ROME, FEB. 1, 2012 (Zenit.org).- “Christ, my hope, is risen and goes before you to Galilee,” began Archbishop Salvatore Fisichella, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelization, as he addressed a conference sponsored by the Emmanuel Community, which asked precisely the question: “In a Period of Crisis, What Hope?”
The archbishop went on to point out that “for 2,000 years we have walked the paths of the world repeating in an unaltered way this proclamation, old because it harks back to our origins and new because it commits today’s faith and settles the originality of the Christian faith.”
“Christ is truly risen,” he continued, stressing the fact that if we do not believe this then “Jesus of Nazareth is just a great historical event with a strong and wise message and the Church is a great society which can no longer describe herself as ‘sacrament and instrument of the profound union with God and of the unity of the whole human race.'”
Today there is no longer any distinction between what is real and imaginary, what is good and evil, what is the result of our faith and what is the fruit of some ideology, Archbishop Fisichella declared. Why is it, he asked, that the West is increasingly showing signs of a widespread foolishness.
“There is in many a pathological situation of anguish, which is born of doubt and results in despair, leading to a form of depression that spreads like an oil stain especially among the youngest,” the Vatican official reflected. “What is often experienced is a tragedy that impedes one from seeing a positive solution.”
To understand the current state of this crisis we need to look back into the recent past, he said. The two World Wars, totalitarian regimes, Marxist ideology, and the desire for domination over others, demonstrate how “society, though advanced, does not succeed in finding ways of international coexistence that are able to respect the peculiarities of each one.”
Then, the repeated failures of the United Nations demonstrate an inability to resolve problems both in the economic and political spheres. Combined with the predominance of an economic system that operates without ethical principles we have now arrived at a situation of generalized crisis, Archbishop Fisichella commented.
To this we can add biomedical research that, in addition to its positive results, has introduced a form of eugenics that clashes with the advance of science and social progress creating “ever more profound conflict at the level of ethical decisions in our social lives.”
An example of this is “distrust in the continuation of life in a state of suffering or the lack of dignity that seems to come to those advanced in age,” which leads us to consider ever more often “the self-determination also of death, as a burden from which to free oneself at the appearance of the first signs of old age.”
Consequently, we are faced with “a widening of individual rights which leads to delegating every ethical decision to the private sphere” and which makes evident the nature of the crisis we are witnessing, which is cultural and anthropological.
Presence of Christ
“The world needs a living hope,” exclaimed Archbishop Fisichella, recalling the conclusive words of the Vatican II document Gaudium et spes. But “what hope?” as the title of the congress suggests. “Christian hope,” he answered. In other words, “the presence of Christ in the life of every believer, full and total mystery that God willed to reveal.”
“In the Christian view, hope is not the fruit of man’s discovery, but of a full, total and gratuitous act of the love of God, which consists in the call to salvation through participation in his very life,” he explained.
This hope, however, does not arise in a moment of suffering or discomfort, “otherwise it would not be distinguished from the generic sentiment to grasp something as a last-minute solution to evil.” On the contrary, Christian hope has two “older sisters – as Peguy wrote – that never abandon him: faith and charity.”
Hence, in a period when terms such as precariousness, degradation, crisis, have become common, the mission of believers to be witnesses of hope comes into play.
Christian hope, if lived in its communal dimension, is the real way for the new evangelization, the pontifical council president suggested. “It is not a private event but the action of the whole believing community, which in this way becomes a sign for the whole of humanity and makes it possible to understand why the believer must hope for all and for the salvation of all.”