Dear surfers, this is part 2 of a two part blog on New Evangelization. If you would like to read part 1, click here.
When last we saw our intrepid heroes… I have always wanted to use those words. I know that this is not a Saturday morning serial, but I couldn’t help myself.
At the end of part 1 the question was raised “are there are also leaders speaking up on behalf of secularization?” As it turns out, there are and they have heard the preaching of the good Cardinal O’Brien. Are we expected to believe that these are the people trying to destroy Christian heritage and culture? You can read their comments and decide for yourself.
Andrew Copson, from the British Humanist Association, described O’Brien’s remarks as “ill-informed” and “alarmist” and accused him of sectarianism.
He said: “What these attacks ignore is that campaigners for secularism in our public life are overwhelmingly motivated, not by anti-religious prejudice, but by a positive desire for equality and an equitable public sphere.
“These alarmist speeches, designed to stir up the faithful and foster a false narrative of persecution, are divisive and sectarian.”
Such attacks “obscured” the reality of the situation, he said. “The churches are seeking to defend a level of influence and privilege totally out of proportion to their significance,” Copson added.
– Cardinal Keith O’Brien warns of threat from ‘aggressive secularism’
The British Humanist Association seems to have a group of people campaigning for secularism in public life. This does appear to be a coordinated effort to increase secularization. Do these folks present the serious challenge we are going to be asked to confront? Do folks like Andrew Copson present such an account of their religious renunciation, by word and example, that it is convincing and attractive to our society? Are we being asked to fight their words and examples by our very own words and examples? Is this what New Evangelization is about?
The conflicts of the past are said to be due to excessive zeal and misunderstanding on both sides. Peaceful coexistence and even a measure of syncretism are assumed to be possible as long as each concedes to the other’s authority in their separate worlds of knowledge: that of matter and facts for science, and that of the spirit and values for religion.
Let us be blunt. While it may appear open-minded, modest, and comforting to many, this conciliatory view is nonsense. Science and religion are diametrically opposed at their deepest philosophical levels. And, because the two worldviews make claims to the same intellectual territory — that of the origin of the universe and humankind’s relationship to it — conflict is inevitable… The issue at stake here is whether or not our worldview is to possess consistency and integrity. Science has worked so well and has been so successful that it is difficult, if not impossible, to live in the modern world while rejecting its findings. But by accepting those findings as a free bounty — while rejecting the hard assumptions and hard work that made them possible — the supernaturalist embraces a lie.
– Dr. Norman F. Hall and Lucia K. B. Hall (Is the War Between Science and Religion Over?)
There does appear to be a line drawn in the sand. Those in favor of secularization are using science as their backdrop and the foundation of their arguments in the public square. It also appears that peaceful coexistence is not going to be a viable alternative. The Catholic Church will be asked to brush up on the faith fundamentals and enter the fray with words and actions to win the hearts and minds of our neighbors. The Church will have faith in God as their backdrop and the foundation of their arguments. Ask yourself, dear surfer, are you willing and capable to accept the challenge that the program of New Evangelization may lay before you? The Bishops believe you are.
The biggest problem with this assertion is that it presumes that people of faith are only capable of expressing positions on issues of public concern that are explicitly grounded in their religion. i.e. “I believe [insert issue position here] because the Bible says so…” or “…the pope says so…” or “…it’s God’s will.”
And that simply isn’t the case.
The Catholic Church in particular believes that faith and reason are highly compatible and that someone imbued with the values of his or her faith is perfectly capable of making arguments — privately and publicly — based on reason, or secular terms.If people of faith are capable of making arguments grounded in reason, one would hope that we continue to have a place at the table in public debate and participation in public life… It’s one thing to say that the language and arguments in our public discourse shouldn’t be explicitly religious. It’s another thing to say that people whose values are informed by their faith have no role in that discourse.
– Don Clemmer: Assistant Director of Media Relations, USCCB
I know many people who are fully imbued with the values of their faith and when I pose these arguments to them they shrink. The common response is that if somebody approaches them with questions of faith they will be happy to share. The notion of reaching out to people with no faith does not sit comfortably with them. Maybe this also speaks to your sensibilities? Perhaps the Church hierarchy will only take volunteers for this New Evangelization program? Can those shy individuals who wish to remain wall flowers be allowed to avoid participation? I don’t believe that the Church leaders are moving in this direction.
We also have to pray for the Church’s mission of the new evangelization. Because the people of our day are really longing for the gift of faith.
When look at our society and the challenges that we have in our country, in our world, my brothers and sisters, we know that the solution to those challenges is in our faith.
We know that God wants us to find peace in our society. That God wants us to have a happy life. That God wants us to really find a way, as a society, that we can love each
other in our daily life. But, as we are witnesses, unfortunately in our society sometimes, faith is not a priority for people.
That is what it is so important for us to feel responsibility for the new evangelization. We all have the beautiful duty of sharing the joy of our Christian faith with others.
– The Most Rev. José H. Gomez Archbishop of Los Angeles
All the faithful have the responsibility and duty to share their faith. Be prepared to be asked to bring God closer to yourself, your family, and your community. Speaking of community, I also believe that there is a political component of this responsibility and duty that may be a part of the New Evangelization program. Hold on to your seat as New Evangelization may enter the world of politics. The water can get rough in the political arena.
If you’re a Catholic who is hesitant about getting involved in the political process on behalf of the church and advocating for public policies consistent with church teaching, Anthony Picarello Jr. has some advice for you: “Don’t be afraid.”
– Joe Towalski
Well surfers, I tried to give you a look at New Evangelization from the bits of information that are available. I am certain this will not be the last time we discuss this topic. Stay tuned to this blog for new discussions of this and many other topics.