“The People of God scattered throughout the world have lived this time very intensely,” said Archbishop Rino Fisichella, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization, evaluating the Year of Faith which is now drawing to a close.
Meeting with journalists accredited to the Holy See Press Office, the prelate said that the eight and a half million pilgrims who came to the Tomb of Saint Peter to profess their faith “is just one sign among the least, though significant, which will stay in our memory.”
The innumerable initiatives promoted, also at the local level, for the Year of Faith – moments to recall the teaching of Vatican II, catecheses on the faith, various celebrations, testimonies of charity, different sorts of cultural activities – are experiences that remain “as a sign that attests to the commitment of Christians in the world.”
The Year of Faith has been an occasion for “moving testimonies that remain as a living document of a faith that is able to give meaning to life even in the most hidden places, of poverty, of suffering and where Christians are an exiguous minority,” continued Archbishop Fisichella.
In this connection, stimulated by a journalist’s question, Monsignor Fisichella mentioned the testimony of Marie Cecile, a woman of Niger, a country where Catholics constitute 1.1%, who said: “Returning to my country I will no longer feel alone. I have had an experience of faith here which I never could have imagined.”
The prelate also mentioned a charming tribute made by a group of inmates in a prison of the Philippines: a miniature bottled clipper sail, reproducing the vessel which is the logo of the Year of Faith.
Answering a question from ZENIT regarding the increase in Confessions and conversions with the advent of Pope Francis’ pontificate – in particular if this phenomenon can be considered a gift or a grace of the Year of Faith – Archbishop Fisichella said: “I would say that the Lord makes use of all mediations possible and imaginable,” among which is that of the new Pontiff, whose word has opened the heart of many persons.
“The Lord can make use of a Year of Faith or of a word spoken by a priest in his homily; there are so many occasions and opportunities that are given,” he explained.
However, we must not forget that “all of us are only mediators” and that “what acts is the Grace of God. To remove the primacy of God’s grace would mean for us to mistake the meaning of everything, when that primacy is expressed always through very precious mediations” but which remain “always mediations,” added the Archbishop.
In fact, the Year of Faith was intended to be a time “for more profound reflection and for the discovery of the encounter with Christ and His Church” and for “rediscovering the enjoyment” of the faith.
The faith is proclaimed, celebrated and witnessed “as a way of New Evangelization to rediscover the joy of believing and the enthusiasm to communicate the faith.”
Accustomed as we are to “point out the factors of crisis,” we forget to look at the “many positive signs and the hope which are really present in the Church,” which the Year of Faith has also contributed to show.
There are, therefore, all the conditions to expect consistent “fruits” from this period of the history of the Church, which began on October 11, 2012, and will end this coming November 24, stressed Archbishop Fisichella.
“Sustained by such an impressive, enthusiastic and convincing witness, which is expressed especially in the silence of everyday life, we look at the future with greater serenity, strengthened by the experience lived in this Year which we hope will be able to prolong in time its positive effects,” concluded the Vatican prelate responsible for the New Evangelization.