This is part two, of a three part blog, on the build up to New Evangelization. In part one we discussed the the New Evangelization pilot project, opening in select cities. We also discussed the goal, as defined by the the papal encyclical Redemptoris Missio and the doctrine Missio ad Gentes.
To explain what we will discuss in this blog post, I would like to use a metaphor. Think about a car (automobile) where the top side is painted and shiny. Everybody looks at your car and sees the styling, the color and they remark on its beauty. Part one represented the top side of your car. In this blog post we are going to talk about the greasy, dirty bottom side of New Evangelization.
Please understand, surfers, I intended to simply outline the program and fill in the background for the lay faithful. The program is just now rolling out, how many concerns could there be? Unfortunately, while I was investigating the fundamentals of New Evangelization I could not ignore the work of certain Bishops. It appears, and I will let you be the judge, that there are Bishops who are pushing their own agenda and hiding behind New Evangelization. These Bishops are hand picked by Pope Benedict XVI, so one would presume that they have the backing of the Vatican.
The pilot project, described in part one, does not represent the first step that Church leaders have made toward New Evangelization. In September 2011 there was a symposium for young theologians who were set to teach in Catholic universities. As part of the symposium the Bishops who arranged it were interviewed for an article. Within the article Archbishop DiNoia offers what could be the most candid view of the position of Church leaders regarding New Evangelization.
Sounding a theme echoed in other presentations over the weekend [The Intellectual Tasks of the New Evangelization Symposium], Cardinal Wuerl asked the young academics [young theologians who have just begun to teach undergraduates at Catholic universities] — most of whom had completed their doctorates within the past five years — to embrace their professional responsibilities as a spiritual calling, embodying the teachings they transmitted… At the symposium, Archbishop DiNoia explored related themes in an often passionate address. The work of a Catholic theologian “is not simply an academic vocation. It is an ecclesial vocation,” he stated… [Archbishop DiNoia] noted that the need for intervention by Church authorities has increased over time: “The more theologians are no longer reliably able to affirm what the doctrine means, the more the magisterium intervenes.”
A central obstacle to the New Evangelization, he [Archbishop DiNoia] asserted, was the “internal secularization of the Church. The enemy occupies our territory.” The steady advance of secularism has fueled doubts about the intelligibility of the faith, resulting in an “apologetic apologetics.”
– JOAN FRAWLEY DESMOND
Where I come from this is what we call “cut bait.” Our Church leaders cut bait on the current lot of theologians and began fishing for the future theologians. This is a clear condemnation of Catholic theology. Church leaders consider current theologians as enemies who are advancing internal secularization. What? Then, our Church leaders decided to just give up on those theologians?
Let that sink in, surfers. What happened to no believer in Christ, no institution of the Church can avoid this supreme duty: to proclaim Christ to all peoples? Do Cardinal Wuerl and Archbishop Di Noia feel that they can avoid the duty to proclaim Christ to all theologians? Perhaps their policy is do as I say and not as I do? Perhaps their agenda is personal piety and has little or nothing to do with proclaiming Christ to all people?
The bigger question is not about the theologians, but about you. Is this the true nature of New Evangelization? Will some members of the Catholic Church be considered internal enemies? Will I, or you, be one who will see our bait cut, or will Church leaders go fishing for us? Perhaps we should understand what the Church leaders mean when they refer to internal secularization.
A towering challenge to both the missio ad gentes and the New Evangalization today is what we call secularism. Listen to how our Pope describes it:
Secularization, which presents itself in cultures by imposing a world and
humanity without reference to Transcendence, is invading every aspect of daily life and developing a mentality in which God is effectively absent, wholly or partially, from human life and awareness. This secularization is not only an external threat to believers, but has been manifest for some time in the heart of the Church herself. It profoundly distorts the Christian faith from within, and consequently, the lifestyle and daily behavior of believers. They live in the world and are often marked, if not conditioned, by the cultural imagery that impresses contradictory and impelling models regarding the practical denial of God: there is no longer any need for God, to think of him or to return to him. Furthermore, the prevalent hedonistic and consumeristic mindset fosters in the faithful and in Pastors a tendency to superficiality and selfishness that is harmful to ecclesial life. (Benedict XVI, Address to Pontifical Council for Culture, 8.III.2008)
– Vatican Radio Report
I am sorry to report that Cardinal Wuerl and Archbishop DiNoia are guilty of using New Evangelization in a selfish manner that is harmful to ecclesial life. The faithful deserve better from our leaders. Wining and dining the impressionable theologians to curry favor under the false pretenses of New Evangelization is the very definition of secularization.
I would like to stand up for Catholic theologians, and ultimately you. Let me introduce you to a pastoral constitution of the Church named Gaudium et Spes.
The recent studies and findings of science, history and philosophy raise new questions which effect life and which demand new theological investigations. Furthermore, theologians, within the requirements and methods proper to theology, are invited to seek continually for more suitable ways of communicating doctrine to the men of their times; for the deposit of Faith or the truths are one thing and the manner in which they are enunciated, in the same meaning and understanding, is another.[Matt 5: 43-47] In pastoral care, sufficient use must be made not only of theological principles, but also of the findings of the secular sciences, especially of psychology and sociology, so that the faithful may be brought to a more adequate and mature life of faith.
GAUDIUM ET SPES. 62
Theologians are invited to seek continually ways of communicating doctrine to allow the faithful to mature in their faith life. It needs to be noted that the good Cardinal Wuerl has requested the Bishops retract the invitation set out in Gaudium et Spes in favor of “imprimatur.” If Cardinal Wuerl gets his way all theological works will have to pass the “Wuerl Test” for authentic Catholicism.
Cardinal Wuerl was at the center of recent row between the US Bishops and the Theological Society of America. Cardinal Wuerl sits on the US Bishops Committee on Doctrine and in April reviewed a newly published theology book and “found it riddled with errors, failing to present authentic Catholic theology.” The Theological Society of America replied back that they “faulted Wuerl’s committee for not conversing with Johnson [author of the book] before it went public with its criticisms, for misrepresenting Johnson’s theological arguments, and for presenting a narrow understanding of the role of theologians today.”
Surfers, if you follow the timeline, Cardinal Wuerl and the Committee on Doctrine decided to publicly go to war on the Theological Society of America in the Spring. By Fall they decided to use New Evangelization as a cover for their attempts to sway young theologians to see the role of theology under the narrow confines of the committee. If this is a legitimate example of New Evangelization I may decide to skip the whole program entirely as it is simply propaganda.
One of the first things Constantine does, as emperor, is start persecuting other Christians… There’s a kind of internal purge of the church as one emperor ruling one empire tries to have this single church as part of the religious musculature of his vision of a renewed Rome.
– Frontline (Why Did Christianity Succeed?)
Why will New Evangelization succeed? I am not suggesting that Pope Benedict XVI is using the tactics of Constantine to purge the Church of undesirables, but there are some Catholics who advocate that position. Perhaps, even Bishops. In the third and final blog post regarding the build up to New Evangelization we will actually look at the steps needed for the success of the program.