By Junno Arocho
VATICAN CITY, OCT. 22, 2012 (Zenit.org).- Archbishop Bernard Longley of Birmingham (England) addressed the assembly of bishops saying that the New Evangelization was not a strategy or program but “an invitation to an encounter and life-long relationship with Jesus Christ and his Church.”
The English prelate spoke on behalf of the Working Group of English speaking bishops. Each working group, divided into different languages, will discuss proposals for the final message of the Synod. Archbishop Longley suggested that the Synod Fathers propose an accompaniment of each Catholic on their journey of faith, “modeled on Christ’s walk with the two disciples on the Road to Emmaus.”
“Evangelization and catechesis should help the faithful know, understand, live and share the faith. A catechesis for youth and adults that is age-appropriate and presented in an appealing and apologetic manner that answers the genuine questions of those participating in their formation would enhance the New Evangelization,” he said. Such an initiative, he continued, would help reawaken a confidence in the faith.
Archbishop Longley stated that the English Working Group also discussed several other initiatives, among them, to present the Sacraments in a new light with the goal of reaching contemporary society. The archbishop of Birmingham also placed particular emphasis that individual sacraments should be modeled after the catechumenate while allowing for “personal encounters with Christ and the proclamation of the kerygma.”
“Small Christian communities can help to connect people to one another, allowing for prayer and reflection on the Scriptures,” Archbishop Longley said. He also underlined the importance of the Liturgy, which would require formation for the clergy “since they are formators for the new evangelizers.” Archbishop Longley also stated that laity must have better preparation in order to be effective evangelists, especially in Church doctrine.
The English prelate also encouraged bishops, priests and permanent deacons to know the lives of the people they serve in a more personal way. Calling the family a “privileged center for the New Evangelization”, Archbishop Longley concluded his address by stressing the need to better support Catholic families in the faith.
Catholic families, he said, “are in great need of regular support and direct assistance from the Church and parish to become witnesses to the faith. Continuing inculturation of the gospel could bring together the life of Christ with the life and culture of all people. The inculturation of the Gospel involves becoming more of a welcoming Church to immigrants and those in need.”
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On ZENIT’s web page:
For Archbishop Longley’s full address, go to http://www.zenit.org/article-35784?l=english