Pope Francis Calls All Catholics to Evangelize

While it is certainly true that all roads lead to Rome, there is something to be said for all those other roads leading out from Rome.  In other words, before we set out on the road to Rome, shouldn’t there be something already in place, in Rome, the gravitational pull of which first radiates out to the world?  Only then may it draw the distant and weary traveler back home to Rome.  What is the point of a road if it doesn’t go both ways?  Cervantes could not have been more mistaken, therefore, when he said: “The road is better than the Inn.”  How can that be?  Because it is only for the sake of the Inn that you set out upon the road in the first place.  Where else does the careworn traveler hope to be if not in the Inn at the end of the journey?

Rome is the Inn at the world’s end.  And we do not love her, as Chesterton wisely reminded us, because she is great.  It is rather because she is loved that she is great.  Ah, but in order to be loved she must first be lovely, and thus in her loveliness she goes out in search of other people to love.  This is why her immediate impulse must always be to build bridges, not walls.  First she goes out in search of the lost sheep, putting down bridges so as to reach them; only later does she throw up walls to surround and protect them from wolves.

Hasn’t that been the basic marketing strategy from the beginning?  What were the essential marching orders issued by the founder of the Christian religion?  To answer that one just take a look at the last two verses of the final chapter of St. Matthew’s Gospel: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age” (28:19-20).

Could Jesus have put it any plainer than that?  Why is it, then, that we Catholics seem so strangely, stubbornly resistant to the idea, the injunction actually, to go out and spread the Good News?  Almost, it seems, to the point of neurosis. How can something so central to the teaching of the Gospel become an impediment among those who already believe in the Gospel?  (“Christians who are afraid to build bridges,” Pope Francis tells us, “and prefer to build walls, are Christians who are not sure of their faith, not sure of Jesus Christ.”)  Why then this fear?  In hanging fire do we not betray a want of belief, of a faith no longer fired by love?  A faith grown cold and anemic cannot survive, much less share its marvels with others. Hardly an appealing face, one would think, to present to a world thirsting for the redemption of Jesus Christ.

How very unlike the Apostle Paul, who could not even bring himself to boast about his own preaching since to do so was nothing more than an exigency inscribed in the gospels themselves.  “Woe to me if I do not evangelize” (1 Cor 9:16).  This, after all, is the job description of anyone who puts on Christ.  Indeed, the evangelical imperative was a theme so recurrent at Vatican II that an inventory of its appearance reveals more than 200 showings.  And, to be sure, no architect of the Council felt its convicting force more so than the future John Paul II, who returned again and again to the necessity of giving it expression.  “No believer in Christ,” he resolutely told us in Redemptoris Missio, his 1990 encyclical announcing a new evangelization, “no institution of the Church, can avoid this supreme duty: to proclaim Christ to all peoples.”

Thus to evangelize is not just a task undertaken from time to time; or even most of the time.  It is, to put it simply, the Church’s defining identity; it is what she exists for.  Faith is only worth having when you give it away.  Hasn’t this been the point made again and again by Pope Francis, especially when, as he seems to have done a lot of lately, reflecting on the life and mission of St. Paul?  How tireless he has been in sounding this tocsin!  For all the hardships and hassles faced by Paul, the Pope tells us, he just kept on going.  His courage in addressing the Athenian crowd at the Areopagus, for instance, was that of someone determined to be a “builder of bridges” (a real pontifex).  “Paul does not say to the Athenians: ‘This is the encyclopedia of truth.  Study this and you have the truth, the truth.’  No!  The truth does not enter into an encyclopedia.  The truth is an encounter—it is a meeting with Supreme Truth: Jesus, the great truth.”  Nobody owns this truth, we are told, but when we find ourselves, like Paul, possessed by it, galvanized by its force (“We receive the truth when we meet it.”), then we are surely obliged to share it with others.  In the case of Paul, of course, it was the message he’d been destined from the beginning of time to deliver.  However filled with persecution his life became, none of it could dent or diminish that fierce and undaunted spirit.

Yes, the man was a bit of a nuisance.  And, yes, he certainly had plenty of attitude. But, Pope Francis adds, he only “irritated others because testifying to Jesus Christ makes everyone uncomfortable, it threatens the comfort zones.”   And in order, “to move forward, forward, forward … not to take refuge in a quiet place or in cozy structures,” we need to exhibit “that most Christian of attitudes: Apostolic zeal.”  Of this the Apostle Paul had an ample and admirable supply.  “He was not a man of compromise.  No!  The truth: forward!  The proclamation of Jesus Christ: forward.”

And even when it made people think the man was mad—dotty as a doyen of Loonyville—it could not have been an unhealthy thing.  Call it an insanity altogether sane and salutary.  Otherwise he’d have fallen into a kind of bourgeois Christianity, which makes no demands upon the soul, leaving it prey to an ultimate lethargy.  Leaving others to the same fate as well, which equals a failure not only of heroism, but of love.  “There are backseat Christians,” the Pope reminds us.  “Those who are well mannered, who do everything well, but are unable to bring people to the Church through proclamation and Apostolic zeal.”  Their fear of soiling the linen prevents them from going out in search of others, especially along the edges where the dust and the dirt, the muck and the mire are likely to accumulate.  Among the poor and the needy, that is, for whom Jesus shed his blood.  “We cannot become starched Christians,” the Pope warns.  Not overly fastidious.  Like Pilate, in other words, who repeatedly washes his hands lest the evidence of truth leave some ineffaceable stain.  The only gentleman in all of Scripture, Nietzsche tells us.

Do not become, says the Pope, “too polite, who speak of theology calmly over tea.  We have to become courageous Christians and seek out those who are the flesh of Christ.”

Inasmuch as the flesh of Christ includes every human being on the planet, this will require the resources of the Holy Spirit.  So let us ask him, the Pope ends by exhorting us, “to give us the grace to be annoying when things are too quiet in the Church, the grace to go out to the outskirts of life.  The Church has so much need of this! … And if we annoy people, blessed be the Lord.  Onwards, as the Lord says to Paul, ‘take courage.’”

But what if we make mistakes, falling flat on our newly apostolic faces?  “Well, what of it,” the Pope snaps. “Get on with you: if you make a mistake, you get up and go forward: that is the way.  Those who do not walk in order not to err, make the more serious mistake.”

Regis Martin


Regis Martin is Professor of Theology and Faculty Associate with the Veritas Center for Ethics in Public Life at the Franciscan University of Steubenville. He earned a licentiate and a doctorate in sacred theology from the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas in Rome. Martin is the author of a number of books, including Still Point: Loss, Longing, and Our Search for God (2012) and The Beggar's Banquet (Emmaus Road). His most recent book, also published by Emmaus Road, is called Witness to Wonder: The World of Catholic Sacrament. He resides in Steubenville, Ohio, with his wife and ten children.

  • Deacon Ed Peitler

    In my humble opinion, every ordinary ought to review each of the parishes in his jurisdiction and review with the pastor the success of their evangelization efforts. The bishop should identify what evangelization efforts are working well in order to be able to share them with other pastors. Parishes should be looked at in terms of adult confirmations and baptisms signaling the fruits of evangelization. To those who claim that numbers are not important, I would respond that the Acts of the Apostles reported such things e.g. “and that day 5000 were converted.” Besides supporting the sacramental life of the parishioners, there is no other responsibility of a bishop and his pastors that is greater than to lead the effort to evangelize. It is, after all, the very mission and purpose of the Church.

    • Thomas R

      Greetings, Dcn Ed –
      “…every ordinary ought to review each of the parishes in his jurisdiction and review with the pastor the success of their evangelization efforts.” That, I think, would be radically extra-ordinary. I see so much “oversight” of merely external maintenance, that far too much that is of the essence of Christianity gets “overlooked.” Too much management, busyness, organization; too little shepherding and the spiritual vitality of His Body life.

      We ought to be “making disciples” first of all within the parishes (and seriously implementing adult formation) so that we as Church together could effectively reach out beyond the parish boundaries to evangelize.

  • Deacon Ed Peitler

    I would also add that diocesan chanceries ought to be organized around evangelization. All diocesan departments ought to be subsumed under the general heading of “evangelization” and their effectiveness looked at in terms of how well they fulfilled the very mission of the Church which is to evangelize. For example, if there is an Education Dept in a diocesan chancery office, it’s success ought to reviewed in light of how well it fulfills the Church’s mission to evangelize. The same goes for other departments whether it be Finance, Charities, Family Life, Vocations, etc. In other words, if the Church is not evangelizing, it is likely to be just mimicking secular institutions. As I used to say when I was Director of my diocese’s Catholic Charities, if we removed the “Catholic” from “Catholic Charities’ and nobody could tell the difference between us and the United Way agency down the street, we should close up shop because they probably operate the services better than we. In the end, it’s all about evangelization or it’s just another school, hospital, charity, family service agency, etc.

  • Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum!

    The “new evangelization” is nothing more than a deliberate deflection on the part of the bishops, away from their own failures. Pope Francis should clean up the “corrupt to the core” clergy and episcopate, before he asks the layman to “evangelize”.

    • Deacon Ed Peitler

      The Pope is not asking laymen and women to evangelize; Christ is. Take it up with Him!

  • OneTimothyThreeFifteen

    My parish church is a hospital.

    The pews look like sick beds in a ward. We are so sick most of us don’t even know where we are, and I’m sure I’m not the only one who sees this in their parish. We’re mostly not in dissent, just clueless and take whatever’s been given to us for decades: stones instead of bread.

    I pray for our priest, I pray for our Bishop, I pray for our congregation. But nothing changes owing to the clericalism/doctor knows best view the clergy have instilled, and the laity have absorbed, which has crippled us through decades of being taught to be helpless by the clergy (Learned Helplessness).

    I’ve been watching quite a few die recently (leave) from the slightest challenge (the New Translation ‘killed’ a few, for example). The doctors – our clergy and their lay hangers-on – have been feeding us poison for too long. We are too weak. The Eucharist is only able to barely keep us alive, let alone provide a ‘viaticum’ to energise us in the outside world. Our supposed doctors – the clergy – are quacks. Yes, even the young spritely things we have in England because they’re just Anachronisms not Traditionalists. They’ve mistaken ‘old fashioned’ for Tradition, and so think the answer is in going round their inner city parish on a bicycle, wearing a cassock and capello romano, speaking Latin, and reading Chesterton in an oak-panelled presbyteries with a cigar and a fine whisky…

    I am with Pope Francis 100%, but the people in the pews are as sick as those in the world. Sadly, Evangelical Protestantism is the only place bringing a sort of life to these sick people. It’s completely inadequate, but better than dying in a Catholic parish.

    You simply can’t help the world if you’re as sick yourself and the doctors, rather than curing, are the one’s who seem to have a vested interest in perpetuating the symptoms of your disease so you can see just how much you need their continual administrations. You can see why the Protestant notion of going to Christ directly is so attractive than our priests’ – anachronist or modernist – power game.

    • patricia m.

      People who leave the church because of the new translation are not true Christians, seriously. Let’s grow up, people. We are acting like little children. Cheer up. Organize yourselves, do something for your parish, talk to people, and if nothing works change parishes. There are wonderful parishes out there, you’ll certainly find one that is energizing. Evangelical Protestantism? Thanks but no thanks. Dying in the Catholic parish? Because you yourselves lay down to die. FIGHT. Fight the good combat, like St Paul.

  • AcceptingReality

    Want to know why most Catholics shy away from the call to evangelize? Surely many wonder, as I do, if I evangelize someone, and they join my parish, what veiled, politically correct, liberal propaganda are they gonna exposed to from the pulpits. Will they be able to decipher Truth from the relativism that has pervaded the clergy and their seemingly endless effort to bend to secular culture and/or protestantize the Church. In short, the faith is being so watered down at many parishes that the faithful are reluctant to bring new people in.

    • Jambe d’Argent

      Exactly. The problem lies not in an aversion to evangelize but in the uncertainty about WHAT to evangelize. Let’s face it, the basic Christian truths are not easy to convey without either falling into sugary banalities or lengthy theological discourses. I’m sure that someone will say to that, “No, Christian truths are simple, just love God and your neighbor.” Well, the latter is being already propagated on a grand scale by our secular society so that we as Catholics don’t really say anything new here while the former is anything but simple unless one doesn’t mind falling into cheap, sentimental religiosity. What do we evangelize then? That Jesus loves us? This has to be felt, not heard, and the Evangelicals say that all the time anyway. Any workable ideas?

      • Steven Jonathan

        Thank you for a beautiful and powerful essay Dr. Martin!
        I share your concern AR and Jambe, I cringe when the people I have spoken with tell me of working with others in my parish who tell them Gospel untruths. I think we are to preach “Christ crucified” as St. Paul tells us, preach the Beatitudes from Sermon on the Mount, for as St. Augustine said about them “Anyone who piously and earnestly ponders the Sermon on the Mount… I believe he will find the perfect standard of the Christian Life.” It is apparently unpopular and shocking for those steeped in our “feel good” culture, but that is not for us to worry about.

      • Deacon Ed Peitler

        Try evangelizing with the kerygma. Don’t know what I am talking about? Then you will need to be evangelized yourself.

        • Jambe d’Argent

          It’s precisely the kerygma I was talking about in my previous post, Deacon. Do you have any practical ideas to offer, Deacon, or do you just want to engage in circular reasoning?

          • Deacon Ed Peitler

            Yes, I do have some practical ideas. Alpha has met with tremendous success in England and has been adapted for use by Catholic Churches in the form of Alpha for Catholics. What Alpha does is engage the person on a very basic level, person to person and invites them over a 10 week period to listen to talks centered on the kerygma. Members of the local parish are there to engage inquirers during a shared meal on universal topics like “What is the meaning of life.” Youtube has many videos that give a great sampling of what Alpha’s approach is. The value of Alpha in the evangelization process is that it presents the kerygma first and, when and if the person affirmatively responds, then catechesis can take place. This is in contradistinction to RCIA which takes an initial inquirer and begins with catechesis which often has the effect of overwhelming the person because their heart has not been converted

            • Jambe d’Argent

              I’m not talking about the form but about the contents. What do you say to an average non-religious person to evangelize him? Help the poor? Jesus loves you? See where this is going to get you…

              • slainte

                One way to start might be to listen to Fr. Robert Barron, Rector of Mundelein Seminary, Chicago, and founder of “Word on Fire Ministries”. Under the guidance of Francis Cardinal George, he is implementing the New Evangelization in the U.S.

                Fr. Barron created the Catholicism series which utilizes social media to communicate the Word globally (see link below for the Catholicism series preview and a recent sermon.) His website is a convenient resource to refer anyone who might have questions about the Faith, or wish to listen to an inspiring weekly homily. Fr. Barron is, in my opinion, a very impressive homilist who brings new life to the Liturgy of the Word.

                As a theologian and philosopher, he evangelizes using the pastoral perspective of Vatican II teachings with a particular emphasis on the marriage of Faith and Reason and the presence of Beauty as a way to learn Truth. His homilies may include “ecumenical” references to views held by protestant theologians, ie., Karl Barth, as well as Catholic sources (ie., St, Thomas of Aquinas, Mother Theresa).
                Father concludes that “Beauty”, as we experience it through our senses (art, music, architecture, the Mass itself), compels people to seek its source, He who is Truth.
                Hope this is helpful. Good luck.

                Trackback URL:http://www.wordonfire.org/trackback/2e0a03f3-5552-4f30-9e1a-84d2d42f42f9/Sermon-646—God-Has-Spoken—Trinity-Sunday.aspx


                • Jambe d’Argent

                  Well, it is an idea, thanks. However, many people are not open to this Platonic equation, i.e., beauty = truth. What Catholicism really needs to become attractive again is the heightened sense of the supranatural, a tantalizing taste of mystery, a whiff of the numinous. The trivialization of the faith, especially strong after the overly rationalistic reforms of Vatican II, is the reason why many Catholics turn to mysterious phenomena such as Medjugorje, the cult of la Santa Muerte, various visions and revelations, etc., etc. The supranatural is the essence of religion and Catholicism is a religion. In Africa, for example, Christianity flourishes because it is
                  ecstatic, it offers a mythos, not just a bunch of moral rules. Without the understanding and proper use of this currently neglected element no new evangelization is really feasible.

                  • slainte

                    Many liberal clerics at Vatican II viscerally disliked and sought to liberate Catholicism from Scholastic Thomism branding it overtly legalistic. They also sought and eventually caused the recission of Oaths Against Modernism.
                    Scholastic Thomism and the Oaths protected the faith from dissenters and were an integral part of the pre-Vatican II model for Church teaching and belief. Learning the catechism by rote, devotions to saints, novenas, and a clear and unequivocal message from the pulpit that God and Satan both existed and were actively present in the world made it clear to Catholics that the rational world was not all there was.
                    The result was a sense of supernatural mystery which enveloped the Church and imbued it with a tangible experience of the transcendant.
                    The beauty of the Latin liturgy, the incense accompanying prayers, the cavernous experience of the gothic style churches with bells ringing in the distance, alter rails, the priests facing ad orientem, numerous alter boys… all these experiences transported one to an other worldliness…confirming that there was Someone that was far greater, yet present with, the individual Catholic sitting in the pew.
                    When I attended my first Latin Mass two years ago, I was shocked by its beauty in comparison to the Novus Ordo which seemed, by contrast, simplistic.

                    While Vatican II has yielded some clear benefits, we have lost a very large part of our sensory Tradition. Perhaps looking back in time to the 1950s and beyond will cause you to acquire greater clarity regarding how the faith was taught, and how those teachings coupled with the beauty of the Litury and the gift of the Eucharist preserved mystery, beauty, and reverence.
                    We had it once upon a time….we can recapture it.

                    • Michael Paterson-Seymour

                      Abbé Henri Brémond used to recommend only two books to the many would-be converts who came to him seeking instruction – the Imitation of Christ by Thomas à Kempis and Introduction à la vie devote of St François de Sales. He often quoted Pascal’s “Voilà ce que c’est que la foi parfaite, Dieu sensible au cœur » [This, then, is perfect faith: God felt in the heart.] The convert, said Brémond, does not need book-learning, but the contact and certainty that comes through prayer.

                    • slainte

                      Thank you for your suggestions.
                      Have you given any thought to how we may convince protestants, who are devoted in their prayer life, to come home to Catholicism?.

                    • Michael Paterson-Seymour

                      Because the Catholic Church has a doctrine of the Interior Life and a tradition of Spiritual Direction that Protestant churches do not.

                      It is no accident that the period following the Wars of Religion showed such a great flowering of the devotional life in France, meticulously documented in 11 stout volumes by Brémond himself [« Histoire littéraire du sentiment religieux en France, depuis la fin des guerres de religion a nos jours », published between 1913 and 1936] His writings on poetry, symbolism and romanticism earned him election to the Académie française in 1923, in succession to Mgr. Duchesne and a eulogy from the French Symbolist poet, Paul Valéry.

                      His « Prière et Poésie » [Prayer and Poetry] and « Introduction a la Philosophie de la Prière » [Introduction to the Philosophy of Prayer] have been translated into English and form an excellent introduction.

                    • Kera

                      And yet the actual text of one of the Vatican II documents made by the actual council, DEI VERBUM, says in number 9 “Therefore both sacred tradition and Sacred Scripture are to be accepted and venerated with the same sense of loyalty and reverence.”
                      These liberal clerics seem to not have read the documents they always talk about.

                • AcceptingReality

                  Not sure I would be so blindly trusting of Fr. Barron. He lost me when he gave such glowing testimony about the Catholic Workers Organization and Dorothy Day. Ms. Day was a communist and the Catholic Workers Org still exists and is still communist.

                  • TheodoreSeeber

                    If you think Catholic Workers, which supports an absolute right to private property, is communist, which supports all property owned by the state, then you don’t know the basic principles of either.

                  • slainte

                    As a confirmed capitalist, I too was taken back by Father Barron’s support of Dorothy Day whom I initially understood to be Communist.
                    I have since realized that while Mrs. Day dabbled in socialism and communism in her youth, she later emphatically rejected God-less communism, embraced Our Lord Jesus Christ in a profound and significant way, became Catholic, and dedicated her life to practicing Catholicism radically through work with the poor and marginalized.
                    Her Catholicism is iapparently nformed by the philosophy of Personalism which she describes, as follows:

                    Dorothy Day explains Personalism and Communitarianism

                    We are urging our readers to be neither collectivist nor
                    individualist, but personalist. This consciousness of oneself as a member of the Mystical Body of Christ will lead to great things.

                    We are working for the Communitarian revolution to oppose both the rugged individualism of the capitalist era, and the collectivism of the Communist revolution. We are working for the Personalist revolution because we believe in the dignity of man, the
                    temple of the Holy Ghost, so beloved by God that He sent His son to take upon Himself our sins and die an ignominious and disgraceful death for us. We are Personalists because we believe that man , a person, a creature of body and soul, is greater than the State, of which as an individual he is a part. We are personalists because we oppose the vesting of all authority in the hands of the state instead of in the hands of Christ the King. We are Personalists because we believe in free will, and not in the economic determinism of the Community philosophy.

                    Peter Maurin, founder of the Catholic Worker, derived his
                    inspiration, not only from the education he received from the Christian Brothers, but from his contact with French radical thinking. He kept in touch with such thinkers as Jacques Maritain. Peguy was the great influence in the life of Emmanuel Mounier, young student at the Sorbonne who started the magazine Esprit, which began publication around the same time as ours, and which led Peter Maurin to translate for us Mounier’s “Personalist Manifesto” which was followed by other articles about revolution, a necessary but nonviolent revolution which Mounier called “the Personalist and Communitarian Revolution.” – Dorothy



                  • Jakw

                    I’ve heard she was a communist before the Vatican’s official condemnation on it or something and after the condemnation she stopped.

              • Michael Paterson-Seymour

                A careful reading of the Acts of the Apostles and SS Peter & Paul’s epistles show that the Apostolic preaching of the Good News concentrated on six themes:-

                1. The promises of God made in the OT have now been fulfilled with the coming of Jesus the Messiah

                2. This has taken place through the birth, life, ministry, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

                3. Jesus has been exalted at the right hand of God

                4. He gave the Holy Spirit, as the sign of His present power and glory to form the new community of God

                5. Jesus will come again in glory for judgment and the restoration of all things, when every eye will see Him

                6. Then an appeal is made for repentance and baptism, with the offer of forgiveness, the Holy Spirit, and salvation

        • slainte

          Would Saint Paul have understood what you were talking about? He preached the Word anyway. God does not expect us to be perfect in teaching the Gospel and scripture in general. Just preach and let the Holy Spirit do the rest.

          • Deacon Ed Peitler

            I think St Paul used the term kerygma. My guess is that St Paul would have understood what he himself did, which was to proclaim the kerygma.

            • slainte

              Thank you for clarifying Deacon. Many Catholics hear Latin and Greek words and phrases used in connection with evangelizing and are intimidated. They believe themselves to be unequipped to teach the Word to others; choosing silence instead of action.
              I hope that many Catholics will recognize that the man Jesus, though He was God, spoke Truth to ordinary people in simple and plain language that was easily understood, many times in parables.
              Poster Patricia M. suggested that she returned to the Church because of a street side chat in London with two Irish members of the Legion of Mary going door to door speaking the Word plainly. In other posts, you Deacon Ed have suggested that we should go and spread the Good news now. I agree with you and Patrica M. I am confident that the Holy Spirit will make any seed that we plant flourish.
              Thank you also for introducing me to a word I had never heard…Kerygma. Pax tecum.

        • TheodoreSeeber

          I prefer caritas to kerygma.

  • John O’Neill

    Recently I entered an Anglo Catholic church in Portland Oregon in order to attend a beautiful Bach organ concert. We arrived at the end of the celebration of the mass; I was stunned, the priest was facing ad orientem and there was a communion rail and a sanctuary light. The presence of a small statue and vigil light stand to the Blessed Mother was remarkable. I found the beauty and awe that I had once encountered in the Roman Catholic church before Vatican II. I wonder if the Anglo Catholic church has standing in the Catholic Church; it would be a wonderful place to worship; far different from these rough dumbed down American Catholic churches run by rough and ready Irish toughs.

    • TheodoreSeeber

      Depends on the local Anglican Bishop- ever since Pope Benedict said that they could come in as “Anglican Rite” Catholics and still use the book of common prayer, entire diocese have been running away from the homosexuals in Canterbury and Salsbury.

      I haven’t heard of any locally, but you might check with archdpdx.org

    • TheodoreSeeber

      P. S. At the beginning of May, I was at the Knights of Columbus State Convention for Oregon in Pendleton. St. Mary’s in Pendleton has the communion rail- and we took communion at the rail at both the opening Mass and the Necrology Mass. Had a proper high mass too, with Archbishop Emeritus Vlazny, Bishop Liam Cary, several priests, a deacon, and 44 4th Degree honor guard.

    • Ceara

      Anglican priests do not have valid holy orders so there is no real presence of christ in their tabernacles.

  • Alecto

    This effort to evangelize is premature. Considering most converts leave the Church within 5 years, we should focus on maintenance and spiritual development of those who have recently joined. If faith is a journey, why do we abandon those who have recently begun to walk with us?

    It is a struggle, a profound spiritual struggle to remain in a Church so divided, so at war within itself. Catholics need to unite, but I am not confident they can.

  • OneTimothyThreeFifteen

    “Did anyone notice the black vestments and six unbleached candles? I don’t think many people would comment on them: they were just the right and obvious thing.”
    – Fr Tim Finigan – England’s Zuhlsdorf – on Margaret Thatcher’s Funeral.

    This is exactly what I think the Pope means by theological narcissism…and the sort of cleric we’re producing from the English College: Mozart, Maniples, and Moth-balls.

  • rjujman

    Why would any Catholic bother to evangelize? Popes participate in interfaith services, proclaim their kinship with “Abrahamic” faiths, and announce that we are “redeemed” by our good deeds. When was the last time you heard a Catholic clergyman insist that it was necessary to believe in Christ to be saved, much less join the Catholic Church? Just be a nice person, preferably monotheistic but not necessarily, and you’ll make it to heaven. Why convert to a religion that (supposedly) makes demands when you can sleep in on Sunday and cruise to heaven because you paid your taxes, took care of your family, and gave a little to charity?

  • patricia m.

    I find funny that all the comments here blame the clergy for this and that and so on. The laity is not to be blamed, oh no. Let’s just remember that salvation is an individual task, that we all will have to face judgement day, and excuses such as “my clergy is bad” will not work then. I’m sorry to tell you this, but it is what it is.

    Now, I want to tell you how I came back to church after a 15 year absence: one beautiful sunny Sunday afternoon, in London, I was preparing to go out walking with my husband, was waiting for him outside and then this man and woman show up at my door. I was almost dismissing them before they opened their mouths, no, sorry, I don’t do this Jehovah Witness thing (we had a Jehovah Witness knocking on our door before, 2 times I guess), don’t insist, but instead I don’t know why I let the woman speak. Guess what, they were Catholic Irish from the Legion of Mary, doing their annual evangelization in London. We had perhaps a 15 minute talk, and I went back to church. In my opinion, this is what counts. You don’t need to go after non believers, Muslims, Jews and the like. You can start in your own family with people who don’t go to church for a reason or two. I’m doing that now, and I’m almost bringing Mom back to church. It takes years sometimes, but sometimes it takes a 15 minute talk. It depends on the Holy Spirit.I always keep that man and woman (they were not a couple, they were only paired as all Legion of Mary people work) on my prayers.

    • Joann

      I think the lay religious ed teachers teaching hippie doctrine instead of Catholic teachings hold responsibility too.

      • Kaiser Bill’s Robin

        That is true!

  • TheodoreSeeber

    They want to *really* enhance the new evangelization? Then we need a separation of Church and State on copyright law.

    Nihil Obstat should be required instead. And we need a web service that can be used by chancery offices to apply Nihil Obstat to blog postings.

  • John O’Neill

    Thanks very much Theodore for info on Oregon. I am always awed by the proper and solemn exercise of our ancient liturgies and I am also always appalled by the shoddy liturgies which have become so common. I have a very good friend who studied for the priesthood in the terrible sixties and was forced to leave the seminary because of his firm beliefs in the sacredness of the mass. He finally found his fulfillment in Society of Pius X and is stationed in Idaho; it must be that part of the country where the faith is appreciated.

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  • Sacena

    Exactly. VATICAN II declared in #7 of it’s decree Ad Gentes the following:
    “Therefore, all must be converted to Him, made known by the Church’s preaching, and all must be incorporated into Him by baptism and into the Church which is His body. For Christ Himself “by stressing in express language the necessity of faith and baptism (cf. Mark 16:16; John 3:5), at the same time confirmed the necessity of the Church, into which men enter by baptism, as by a door. Therefore those men cannot be saved, who though aware that God, through Jesus Christ founded the Church as something necessary, still do not wish to enter into it, or to persevere in it.” (Dogmatic constitution by Vatican II:
    Lumen Gentium 14) Therefore though God in ways known to Himself can lead those
    inculpably ignorant of the Gospel to find that faith without which it is impossible to please Him (Heb. 11:6), yet a necessity lies upon the Church (1 Cor. 9:16), and at the same time a sacred duty, to preach the Gospel. And hence missionary activity today as always retains its power and necessity.”

  • Ernesto

    There is no other advocate other than Jesus Christ. He is THE MEDIATOR! No need for a pope. That is not just my opinion, that is the Scripture. Most Catholics do not read the Word and are not encouraged to. Catholicism preaches tradition over The WORD. No, protestants and Catholics do not believe the same Gospel. The Word of God does not in any way state that we are to pray to angels or saints. We are to pray only to our Father in Heaven. Paul was a much greater missionary than Peter. He wrote 48% of the the New Testament. Peter only wrote only 11% of the New testament.. Paul even rebuked Peter because of his misdeeds in treating others. No, Peter was not the rock that the church would be built upon. Jesus asked Peter, “Whom do you say that I am?” And he replied “The Living Son of God,” Jesus then stated that this fact, “that He was the Living Son of God” would be the Rock that the church would be built upon.

    • David Cobos

      “And I say to thee: That thou art Peter; and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” -Matt 16:18

      You certainly have an interesting interpretation of Scripture. And on the subject of Scripture, the percentage of scripture written by someone does not necessarily indicate their relative importance. It was the Catholic Church (under the guidance of the Holy Spirit) that determined what would be included in the New Testament canon in the first place.

      And regarding your other inaccurate claims about Catholics, I would refer you to the Baltimore Catechism.

      “23g. Are Catholics encouraged by the Church to read the Bible?

      Yes; Catholics are encouraged by the Church to read the Bible, especially the Gospels, which tell about the earthly life of Jesus Christ, the Son of God made man.”

      “23k. Has Divine Tradition the same force as the Bible?

      Yes; Divine Tradition has the same force as the Bible, since it too contains God’s revelation to men.” (Emphasis added).

      Regarding your statements about “pray[ing] to angels or saints,” Catholics pray for the intercession of angels and saints, as it is well understood that it is God alone who answers all prayers.

  • john

    I’ve been trying to get people to read the book “Catholic Evangelization”, by Christopher MacDonald.

  • accelerator

    “Faith is only worth having when you give it away.” Has rhetorical flair, but seems patently false.

  • jo173

    The tree that doesn’t bear fruit will be cut off…

  • Kevin McCarthy

    Thank you for this timely article. I find myself questioning the role of the Catholic Church since there seems to be a great reluctance to encouraging personal expressions of faith outside of the confines of the church hierarchy. I have been unable to dialogue in a meaningful way without that hierarchy and find myself often shunted to the side or ignored when I have serious questions to ask our leadership. This has led me to a place where I am putting much more confidence in Holy Scripture than in church teaching. I welcome any interaction that provides a dialogue focused on deepening my own faith commitment. (kjmphd@gmail.com).