Next year, 2012, Pope Benedict has called a Synod for the New Evangelization. After 20 or 30 years of 'New Evangelization' initiatives that have seen the number of practising Catholics throughout the world plummet to embarrassing levels it is time to ask if this new synod is just another "make out you're busy for Jesus" intiative or if the institution is seriously engaged in the task of bringing 'the Good News' of Jesus Christ to ALL people or simply a small, identifiable psychological subset who believe they alone are God's "chosen ones"? Is this new endeavour simply an effort to try and re-impose the Old Evangelization methods and thinking that have so patently failed and simply change the name to "New Evangelization"?
The "New Evangelization": Is it Newspeak?
Readers of Catholica might like to read the news report published in ZENIT "A Giant Is Awakening: New Evangelization Flows Out of Rome" [LINK]. It might help provide an answer to the question as to whether this New Evangelization is going to build a bigger Church reaching out to ALL of humanity or a "smaller, purer Church" catering exclusively for a small minority. We are in Orwellian Newspeak territory. This is no longer a Church using language in a straightforward way.
George Orwell's books "1984" and "Animal Farm" were critiques of totalitarian regimes and the mindsets that operate within them. Newspeak was the language adopted by such regimes where words are used for propaganda means but their real meaning is inverted or subverted in an attempt to pull the wool over the eyes of the ordinary citizens. The most notorious example in history is probably the sign that stood over the entrance to the Auschwitz-Birkenau Concentration Camp set up by Hitler and the Nazis: "Arbeit macht frei" translated as "work sets you free" or "work liberates".
Reading the ZENIT article, and the people quoted in it, we ask: do these people perhaps seriously believe that what they propose is going to evangelize the world? Given the accumulating evidence of where Catholicism seems to be heading under the leadership of Pope Benedict one could be forgiven for believing they honestly do believe it.
They sincerely do seem to believe the vast majority of Catholics have been sucked out of the Church by secularization, relativism and all these slogans the likes of Pope Benedict use. The reader might doubt that it even enters their heads that many of the people who have drifted away actually do understand the theology and dogma that Benedict and friends want to impose (or re-impose) on the world — and they have consciously rejected it. They do not believe it represents the authentic insights any longer of what Jesus Christ was about. Today, we submit, many are searching for a new, more honest way of understanding their faith and beliefs — a new way of understanding their relationship with this Mystery at the heart of Life — and each of their lives — that we try and condense into the word "God".
What is being proposed in this so-called "New Evangelization" is NOT an effort to try and understand why the Old or Traditional Evangelization endeavours started to seriously fail in the 20th Century. Instead it is an effort to try and re-impose the Old Evangelization methods and thinking and simply change the name to "New Evangelization".
The program being proposed by Pope Benedict and his newly appointed President of the dicastery for the New Evangelization, Archbishop Salvatore Fisichella, is not seriously concerned with the initiative of bringing anything that Jesus Christ has to offer to the entire world, it is yet another exercise in the appeasement of just a small psychological subset of the faithful. It will not return Catholicism to being the numerically largest body of religious believers on the planet. It will build a "smaller, purer Church" that is irrelevant to the world at large.
If the institutional Church is going to engage in a serious Re-evangelization or New Evangelization program, the starting point has to be a correct study and understanding or why the Old Evangelization programs started to fail. One would have thought the Second Vatican Council was an effort using the combined intelligence of all of the bishops of the world at the time to do that. As we can now see very clearly all of that has been turned on its head.
Brian Coyne, Editor and Publisher, 20 Oct 2011