By Junno Arocho
VATICAN CITY, OCT. 9, 2012 (Zenit.org).- The report on the Continents was delivered in yesterday evening’s session of the Synod of Bishops on the New Evangelization for the Transmission of the Faith. The various addresses were delivered by the episcopal representatives of the five major continents: Europe, Africa, America, Asia, and Oceania.
Addressing on behalf of the European Bishops, Cardinal Peter Erdõ, Archbishop of Esztergom-Budapest and current president of the Council of European Episcopal Conferences, stressed the need for evangelization in Europe. Cardinal Erdõ recalled the late Pope John Paul II’s Apostolic Exhortation “Ecclesia in Europa” saying that among the many worrisome signals, the most prominent is “the loss of Europe’s Christian memory and heritage.”
“Despite many joyful experiences, in the majority of the continent, there is a spreading of ignorance about the Christian faith. Many of the mass-media broadcast a presentation of the Christian faith and history that is full of lies, misinforming the public as to the content of our faith as well as to what makes up the reality of the Church,” he said.
Speaking on the rising “de-Christianization” of Europe, The Hungarian prelate cited the rise of “third and fourth generation human rights” that no longer have a connection with the human or Christian view of the world and with no “objective morality expressed in the categories of the natural law.”
Though highlighting the various obstacles to the new evangelization in Europe, Cardinal Erdõ said that events such as World Youth Day in Cologne and Madrid, along with the Pastoral Visits of the Holy Father “have constituted a great sign of hope and have had an extraordinary missionary effect.”
Cardinal Polycarp Pengo, Archbishop of Dar-es- Salaam, Tanzania and President of the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM – SECAM) spoke on behalf of the African continent spoke of the New Evangelization in light of Pope Paul VI’s challenge in 1969: “Africans, be missionaries to yourselves.”
Stating that the re-invigoration of pastoral structures are responsible for the high number of vocations in the continent, Cardinal Pengo pointed to the establishment of small Christian communities as “fundamental.” “These have become Iiving centers of Evangelization of the present day Continent,” he said.
Cardinal Pengo stated that one of the challenging factors was the presence and influence of Islamic fundamentalism. The cardinal said that while it is difficult to dialogue with the majority of “good Muslims” in the continent, it is an even greater challenge to dialogue with the “small groups of fundamentalists who are not prepared to accept even objective truth which is opposed to their preconceived position.”
The African prelate also stated that while many have answered beyond Pope Paul VI’s challenge by evangelizing beyond the continent, such as the U.S. and Europe, the negative aspect is the fact that some evangelizers seek material gain before the evangelization. “The church in Africa is deprived of best qualified evangelizers while the materially rich Western Church receives evangelizers whose primary aim is material gain.”
Highlighting the hopes and challenges of the New Evangelization in the Americas, Archbishop Carlos Aguiar Retes, Archbishop of Tlalnepantla of Mexico said that while “the institutional organization of the Church is necessary, it is not sufficient.”
“To achieve New Evangelization and to transmit the faith to the new generations, the Church must be considered with complete honesty, through a self-examination on the way of living the faith (The proposal of a new style of life applies not only to the Pastors, but to all Christians living in America,” he said.
Archbishop Retes, who also serves as President of the Latin American Episcopal Conference (CELAM) said that it was important for the Church to focus its pastoral attention and its evangelizing action on the crucified and risen Christ.
Asia and Oceania
Cardinal Oswald Gracias, Archbishop of Bombay and General Secretary of the Federation of Asian Bishops said that the continent of Asia is experiencing “the hopes and joys of a constant rebirth in the Spirit.”
While saying that the continent has a rich culture, the cardinal identified three major areas of work that focus on three major challenges in the area. Cardinal Gracias said that “we need to have a dialogue with cultures, a dialogue with the poor and a dialogue with religions: to study what the Gospel mandate means to us in our relationship with these three major realities.”
The greatest challenge he identified within the continent is that of globalization, stating that it first began as an economic process which led to free competition, many times at the expense of poorer countries, has now turned into “phenomenon of culture”.
“It impacts cherished Asian cultural values bringing in its wake materialism, individualism, consumerism and relativism. The youth in particular are very vulnerable to its effects. The effects of globalization are seen overall affecting our value systems. Traditional Asian values, much cherished traditions and cultures are being impacted and eroded. “
Speaking on behalf of the bishops of Oceania was Archbishop John Atcherley Dew of Wellington, President of the Federation of Catholic Bishops Conferences of Oceania. The archbishop expressed his enthusiasm at the vibrancy of youth, highlighting the World Youth Day in Sydney where large numbers from Oceania attended the gathering with Pope Benedict XVI.
Archbishop Atcherley also highlighted a “new vitality” among Catholics in New Zealand through ethnic diversity. “The largest populations are from the Pacific Islands and the Philippines, with smaller, yet very significant numbers of Catholics and catechumens – from the Middle East, India, Korea, China and the Sudan. People who bring their Catholic faith and their spirituality … as well as their experiences of war, poverty and displacement that have forged their faith,” he said.
Concluding his address, Archbishop Atcherley said that it was imperative that the Church reclaim the Catholic Kerygmatic tradition and to reclaim the prophetic voice of the Church, to discern the signs of the times that call for the new evangelization, and to engage in proclaiming and living a Christian response to these signs of the times.”
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On the NET:
For the full text of The Report on the Continents, go to http://www.vatican.va/news_services/press/sinodo/documents/bollettino_25_xiii-ordinaria-2012/02_inglese/b05_02.html#REPORTS_ON_THE_CONTINENTS_