A Vatican official says poorly formed Catholics present one of the biggest challenges to the late Pope John Paul II’s vision of evangelizing formerly Christian societies in the West.
“The major challenge are the Christians, especially those who were baptized, but not sufficiently catechized,” said Archbishop Nicola Eterovic, the Vatican’s secretary general of the synod of bishops.
In an interview with EWTN News on March 7, he noted that the upcoming synod of bishops and Year of Faith, both taking place in October, will be an opportunity to discuss evangelizing traditionally Christian countries that have become increasingly secularized in recent decades.
The Year of Faith, which will also mark the 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council and the 20th anniversary of the publication of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, will be launched by the Pope on Oct. 11 and run until Nov. 24, 2013.
“I think it will be an occasion to read more, to reflect more, to pray more,” Archbishop Eterovic said, “and to know better our Christian faith.”
The synod will focus on “The New Evangelization for the Transmission of the Christian Faith.”
Although foreign missionary work for those “who do not yet know Jesus Christ” is an important part of the Church’s work, Archbishop Eterovic said that Catholics must coordinate efforts at the parish level in order to “promote the Christian faith” to Catholics who may not understand Church teaching.
Christians should also utilize mass media, especially social media such as Facebook, to spread the message of the Gospel.
In the effort to spread Christ’s message, Archbishop Eterovic said, the most important form of contact is both personal and communal.
“Personal contact is necessary to announce Jesus Christ,” he said “but this personal contact should be lived ... in the Church.”
As organizer for the synod, Archbishop Eterovic received feedback from the world’s bishops’ conferences about the upcoming meeting.
The statements are still being analyzed, but will contribute to the instrumentum laboris (working document), which will highlight the major ideas to be discussed and will hopefully be published in several languages after Easter.
The Middle Eastern bishops’ conference statement, which mentioned the lack of religious freedom in their area, was especially surprising to him.
“That’s a big testimony that Jesus Christ is alive; he’s suffering even now.”
Because they are not permitted to partake in public missionary work, the bishops said they would use the liturgy, especially the celebration of the Mass, to evangelize.
In recent years, an increasing number of Christians have been persecuted, some even killed, for their faith, he said. “That must be a big lesson for us in the West ... that to be a Christian is not neutral.”