Cardinal Dolan: We Must Emphasize a Universal Call to Evangelize

Archbishop of New York Speaks on Synod of Bishops

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By Junno Arocho

VATICAN CITY, OCT. 15, 2012 ( New York Archbishop, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, spoke to the press on his impressions of the Synod of Bishops. Cardinal Dolan also serves as President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).

Commenting on his view of the interventions of his fellow bishops, Cardinal Dolan said that while he was not surprised by the emphasis placed on the rise of secularism, he said he was surprised by how many called for dialogue.

“What I have been pleasantly surprised by would be the number of Synod Fathers who say that it’s time to stop ringing our hands over this and perhaps we are at our best when we listen to Lumen Gentium and Gaudium et Spes and adopt a posture of engagement and dialogue with secularism,” he said.

The American prelate also highlighted his observations of the situations of churches around the world, saying that Churches or dioceses with temporal problems seem to be flourishing spiritually. “It seems as if in countries where the church has towering internal problems, [meaning ]infrastructure problems, where their facing hunger, where they’re facing persecution, where they’re facing not enough resources to respond to the imperative of charity [etc.]; […]bishops that had those internal problems, externally, they’re thriving. They’re growing they’re advancing, they’re expanding,” he said.

Countries that don’t have material problems, he continued,” we have a lot of spiritual problems. That’s not new either but it’s something that in listening to the interventions of the Fathers I thought, ‘Wow!’ We bishops in the United States spend a lot of time wondering which parishes we’re going to merge or consolidate. Where we have enough temporal resources to build, we have spiritual problems of filling the churches. “

“Churches that can fill a hundred more people than they have [space for], they have temporal problems, earthly problems but spiritually, they are in spring time,” he said.

The Role of Movements in the New Evangelization

Throughout the Synod, several prelates have taken the opportunity to highlight the importance of new communities and ecclesial realities within the Catholic Church. Recently, Archbishop Ricardo Blazquez of Valladolid spoke of his experience with the Neocatechumenal Way as an instrument of the New Evangelization.

Regarding the role of ecclesial realities and movements within the Church, ZENIT asked Cardinal Dolan if greater emphasis would be placed on the role of these ecclesial realities. The USCCB President said that while there has been a greater emphasis on how the movements and new communities of the Church are a “blessing”, there is also a recognition that “we are in this together.”

“Instead of fractioning the Church into different segments: bishops, clergy, religious women, religious men, movements, parishes, institutions, etc.; rather than fractioning perhaps what best we can do is emphasize a universal call to the evangelization.”

Cardinal Dolan concluded his remarks saying that the call to the evangelization and a call to discipleship “is a charge from which no one can escape” as well as saying that “such a call is implicit in our baptism, confirmation Eucharist, and sacrament of penance.”

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