On October 12, 2010, Pope Benedict introduced his latest motu proprio, Ubicumque et Semper as an introduction for the Church into the ‘New evangelization,” necessary to restore the prominence of the Catholic Church globally, especially where it has been faltering in recent years.  The observation by Pope Benedict that the “phenomenon of abandonment of the faith” has “become progressively more evident in societies and cultures that were for centuries, impregnated with the Gospel.”

These societies and cultures are most obviously the Western world, especially Europe and the United States.  Uniquely, in these societies, Pope Benedict raises poignant points for modern Catholics to consider in our journey of faith. The increased secularization of the world and the “loss of the sense of the sacred” contribute strongly to the demise of the Catholic faith in countries that were once strongholds of Catholicism.

Catholics seemingly have lost touch with the fundamental experiences of human existence, birth, death and family life and even the comprehension of natural law. The new evangelization movement established officially by Pope Benedict seeks to restore Christian vitality and exuberance to the areas of the Church that have been de-Christianized.

The process of new evangelization is most intimately linked with the teachings of John Paul II in his Apostolic Letter Novo Millennio Ineunte (At the Beginning of the Third Millenium 2000) which contemplated the future of the modern Catholic Church in light of the Second Vatican Council and the increasing secularism of the modern global society.

The motu proprio, Umbicumque et Semper was released by Pope Benedict XVI almost to the exact day of the start of the Second Vatican Council, 48 years ago. With the significance of this date in mind, we as faithful Catholics need to appreciate and more fully understand the intentions of the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council as somewhat prophetic in their teachings. The world of 1962 is indeed quite different from our own modern world. Our Catholic Church is quite different from the 1960’s as well.  It is really no wonder that the Catholic world has in part abandoned the message of the Gospel for more appealing lures of secular society.

The establishment of a curia office designed to oversea the process of new evangelization is the first step in this multi-decades implementation after Vatican II. New evangelization will encompass many other points for the 21st century Church and the Catholic faithful.

To begin with, the new evangelization will need to reeducate, reinform and revitalize complacent Catholics on the teachings of Jesus in the New Testament in regards to our deposit of Catholic faith and tradition that has developed for two thousand years. What this means specifically is that the Church needs to minister to the Church, concentrating on those faithful members that have neglected or totally ignored the Gospel message and the Church’s teachings.

In terms of the Catholic resurgence of faith throughout the world, it is also critically important that the Catholic Church come to terms with the growing Islamic presence in the world and take the opportunity not to convert Muslims, but to embrace and culturally understand their faith and traditions. One only needs to look at the catastrophic events of the Great Crusades to see how ineffective our anti-Islamic campaigns were and continue to be. Islam, one of the great three monotheistic religions of the world indeed has a responsibility to the religions of the West to live in theistic harmony. Together with our cousins in monotheism, the Jewish people, the age of New Evangelization should concentrate its efforts towards reestablishing the importance of faith in God and religious practices as part of its agenda of global restoration of the goals of Christianity. The Catholic Church most obviously needs to appreciate the global situation that exists in the 21st century, and not seek an opportunity towards antiquated colonialization, but rather an inclusive acceptance of many faiths, seeking truth from the same Deity, with different modes of worship.

Most importantly, besides the theological message of Christ, the Church in the efforts of New Evangelization needs to restore for all mankind an appreciation and understanding of the message of the Book of Genesis, namely that we are created in the image and likeness of God. If indeed, the message begins with our deepening understanding of our participation in the Divine life, then the points of argumentative and dehumanizing activities and beliefs will begin to fall as well. An understanding by a global Catholic Church that heralds above all things the sanctity of all human life, and a harmonious understanding of all of our brothers and sisters in faith is indeed the best sign of a new evangelization in Christ.

The message of the Council Fathers of Vatican II resounds with the motu proprio, Ubicumque at Semper. Collectively, as the People of God, we need to hear its important message for our own faithful people and our relationship with the global society of the world’s faiths.

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