On Tuesday, Cardinal Seán O’Malley, Archbishop of Boston, delivered the keynote address at the 131st Annual Convention of the Knights of Columbus (KofC) which is currently being held in San Antonio, Texas. The cardinal reflected on “The New Evangelization in the Pontificate of Pope Francis.
Cardinal O’Malley began by thanking the KofC for their work in spreading the faith while promoting a culture of Life. Recalling the recent World Youth Day in Rio, the Cardinal also thanked the Knights of Columbus for sponsoring the catechesis held for English-speaking pilgrims.
“We were all overwhelmed by the Mass on the beach at Copacabana where a throng of young Catholics that equaled the entire population of Ireland gathered around the successor of Saint Peter, our new Holy Father Pope Francis, the first Pope from the Americas, whose spirit of compassion and love is touching people’s hearts all over the world,” Cardinal O’Malley recalled.
Pope Francis, he continued, continues the work of his predecessors by challenging all to continue the New Evangelization with new zeal especially for those most in need. The cardinal recalled his work with immigrants in Washington, D.C., recounting the difficulty that a Salvadoran migrant had in sending money to his family.
“The immigrants,” Cardinal O’Malley said, “turn to the Church as their spiritual family, and for their part have contributed so much joy and vitality.”
The Challenges of the New Evangelization
While speaking on the various missionary experiences in the world, the Archbishop of Boston told the Knights of Columbus that the most difficult missions are not found in indigenous areas but in countries in the Western World where secularization and dechristianization are “gaining ground.”
“It is much harder to preach the Gospel in a culture that seems to be vaccinated against the Faith, in our own country where so many Catholics have stormed off, dozed off or simply drifted away from the Church,” the cardinal said.
“Pope Francis is calling on all of us to be missionaries in our own communities. In this new millennium, business as usual is not enough. We must be a team of missionaries, moving from a maintenance mode to a missionary one. We must ask ourselves, “What does it mean to live in a culture of unbelief; a culture which does not even know it does not believe because it still lives on the residue of Christian civilization?”
Cardinal O’Malley urged those present to continue promoting the Catholic way of life, conveying the importance of following Pope Francis’ call to spread the Church’s message of love and service to those who are most vulnerable in today’s world.
The cardinal also addressed concerns that the Holy Father should speak more about the issue of abortion. “I think he speaks of love and mercy to give people the context for the Church’s teaching on abortion,” Cardinal O’Malley said. “We oppose abortion, not because we are mean or old fashioned, but because we love people. And that is what we must show the world.”
Concluding his address, the Archbishop of Boston emphasized the importance of love in the Christian mission of evangelization. The example of Pope Francis shows that the current mission to evangelize is not only a political or legal problem, but more importantly, to humanize today’s culture. If that is done, “then the world will be safe for the unborn, the elderly, and the unproductive.”
“The Gospel of Life is a Gospel of Mercy,” he said. “If we are going to get a hearing in today’s world, it will be because people recognize that authenticity of our lives and our dedication to building a civilization of love.”
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On ZENIT’s web page:
For the full text of Cardinal O’Malley’s address, go to: http://www.zenit.org/en/articles/cardinal-sean-o-malley-s-keynote-address-at-knights-of-columbus-annual-convention