GLASGOW, DEC. 10, 2012 (Zenit.org).- On December 1, Cardinal George Pell of Sydney addressed a conference held in Glasgow, Scotland on the theme of “From Vatican II to the New Evangelization.”
Starting with a brief historical overview he noted that at various moments in the history of the Church there have been examples of reform and renewal. The Second Vatican Council was one of those attempts at re-evangelization and “the most important teaching event in Catholic life since the sixteenth century Council of Trent,” he said.
The most important document of the Council, according to Cardinal Pell, was the dogmatic constitution on the Church Lumen Gentium. This saw what he termed, “a Copernican revolution saw the people of God (Chapter 2) treated before the hierarchy and episcopate (Chapter 3).”
“The recognition of the baptismal dignity of the lay faithful was deeply in accord with the New Testament. It was also providential for the society which has emerged where hostile pressures have increased so much and are quite beyond the capacity of the reduced number of clergy and religious for effective resistance,” he said.
The 1960s, he observed, was initially a time of optimism. During the decade, however, the uprisings in 1968, social changes, the controversy over the pill, and an exodus of priests and religious put an end to this optimism.
What are we to do in order to reverse the decline of recent years, Cardinal Pell asked. First of all, he said, it is important to emphasise the need for faith.
“Second, the crucified Christ and his teachings have to be at the centre of all our catechetical and religious formation work with the young,” he said. “No new evangelisation is possible without a sound catechesis for the young,” he insisted.
Third, we need to keep well in mind the four last things: death, judgement, Heaven and Hell.
Fourth, it is important to keep Christ in the center of Christian formation. Too often, he commented, Christ is displaced from the center.
A fifth fundamental issue is to ensure that youngsters are taught that the Ten Commandments are the “indispensable moral framework for all Christians.”
Cardinal Pell also commented on what he termed “the dark stain of sexual abuse” that has come to light in recent years.
It is, he said, “the most important and powerful barrier to the New Evangelization.”
Toll of abuse
“It is shameful and shocking that this abuse, with its tragic toll on those who were abused and on their families, was committed by Catholic priests and church workers,” he said.
“That church officials have sometimes failed to deal appropriately with those who have been abused, and with priests and church workers accused of abuse, is deeply disturbing,” he added.
“We acknowledge the pain that victims and their families have experienced and continue to experience. We express our remorse for past failures,” said Cardinal Pell.
Continuing with his reflection on how to rejuvenate Christian faith Cardinal Pell spoke of the importance of prayer, including prayer as a family, and adoration before the Blessed Sacrament.
He also commented that it is important to seek allies, both in other religions and in the secular world.
“The living witness of the Church throughout the world continues to proclaim that only in Christ does man discover the fullness of his humanity and that it is only through Christ that he is redeemed,” he affirmed.
“May this witness give us a renewed and greater confidence to invite all men, women and children to that personal encounter with him that is the essence of the New Evangelisation,” he concluded.