Philippine Bishops Release Pastoral Letter on New Evangelization

Highlight 9 Priorities Leading Up to 5th Centenary of Arrival of Catholicism

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By Junno Arocho

MANILA, Philippines, JULY 12, 2012, ( Looking towards the celebration of the fifth centenary of the arrival of Christianity to the nation, the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) released a pastoral letter on Era of the New Evangelization.

The letter, which was delivered by Archbishop Jose S. Palma, President of the CBCP and Archbishop of Cebu, stated that the Catholic Church in the Philippines will «embark on a nine-year spiritual journey that will culminate with the great jubilee of 2021.»

While recounting the history of the first christians baptized in the Philippines, the president of the CBCP also expressed joy at the upcoming canonization of Pedro Calungsod, a Roman Catholic missionary from the Philippines who was martyred in Guam in 1672. He is set to be canonized by Pope Benedict XVI on October 21. 

The pastoral letter, highlighting nine priorities of the New Evangelization for the country, comes as a precursor to the upcoming Synod of Bishops to be held in October in Rome under the theme of «The New Evangelization for the Transmission of the Christian Faith».

Acknowledging the correlation between faith and evangelization, the pastoral letter stressed the importance of proclaiming, transmitting, and giving witness to the Gospel to all, especially those who have drifted from the Church in traditionally Catholic countries. 

«What we are being called to do by this task of ‘New Evangelization’ in Asia is to consider anew ‘the new methods and means for transmitting the Good News’ more effectively to our people. We are challenged anew to foster in the Church in our country a renewed commitment and enthusiasm in living out the Gospel in all the diverse areas of our lives, in ‘real-life practice’, challenged anew to become more and more authentic witnesses of our faith, especially to our Asian neighbors as a fruit of our intensified intimacy with the Lord,» the letter read. 

New Evangelization Priorities

The Bishops Conference of the Philippines stated that the task of the New Evangelization in the country rests on four pillars: fostering the «missio ad gentes», bringing the Good News to the poor, reaching out to those who have drifted from the church, and reawakening faith in young people and the youth.

The letter also mapped out a series of nine priorities, one for each year leading up to the fifth centenary jubilee year in 2012. «A nine-year journey for the New Evangelization has already been charted climaxing with the Jubilee Year 2021: Integral Faith Formation (2013); the Laity (2014); the Poor (2015); the Eucharist and of the Family (2016); the Parish as a Communion of Communities (2017); the Clergy and Religious (2018); the Youth (2019); Ecumenism and Interreligious Dialogue (2020); Missio ad gentes (2021). These are the nine pastoral priorities of the Church in the Philippines», the letter stated. 

The CBCP concluded the letter by stressing the importance of the New Evangelization in today’s secularized society. «In the face of a secularism which in some parts of our present world has itself become a kind of a ‘dominant religion’, in the face of the reality of billions who live in our time and who have not truly encountered Jesus Christ nor heard of His Gospel, how challenged we are, how challenged we must be, to enter into the endeavor of the New Evangelization!» the bishops stated. 

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