FROM THE SERVANT GENERAL
THE NEW EVANGELIZATION
BRINGING IN THE STRAYS
December 11, 2012
Today’s gospel: Matthew 18:12-14
The New Evangelization requires open eyes to see the true situation of Christians today. We do not need to wait for things to worsen before acting decisively. Europe drifted away from the faith through the decades. The USA promoted the culture of death with the support of priests and nuns, and under the unwatchful eye of bishops. Now once-strong Catholic countries such as Ireland are not only turned off from the faith but are strongly anti-Church. Now the USA whose founding values included God and life are aggressively pushing abortion and homosexual rights throughout the whole world.
What happened? With Christianity dominating the world, the pastors of the Church (churches) became complacent. With churches full on Sunday Mass, we assumed things were all right. With Catholic charities and good works leading the way in many nations, we decided we were firmly on the right track. But secularism crept in. Today we even have the enemy within the churches. Worse, the churches themselves have become the enemy, with for example Protestant churches all out for contraception, abortion and active homosexuality.
We looked at the one lost sheep and presumed the 99 were fine. But the wolf had entered the sheepfold. The 99 were systematically being lost.
The New Evangelization necessitates that we see this reality. There are 99 lost sheep and only one who is a true Christian.
Consider first of all those who are living lives of active sin. Then consider those who might not be great sinners, but who are living lives apart from Christ and the Church.
But more importantly, consider those who are active and serving in the Church, but might be among the 99.
* There is the bishop who allows or even encourages parishes to be openly warm and welcoming to active gay groups.
* There is the theologian who actively opposes the authentic teaching of the Church, proposing the acceptance of such things as contraception.
* There is the priest who actively opposes the pope and even sets up an association of clerics to do the same.
* There is the nun who actively campaigns for politicians who promote the culture of death.
* There is the Catholic professor in a Catholic university who openly and publicly voices support for reproductive health legislation.
* There is the lay leader who attacks his fellow lay leader and causes scandal in the Church.
There is more. We know that “it is not the will of your heavenly Father that one of these little ones be lost.” (Mt 18:14). When they stray, who looks for them? The shepherds. They are the ones who “go in search of the stray” (Mt 18:12d). If they do not, then the strays stay lost.
Today there are many lost Catholics. They are the lapsed, nominal or cultural Catholics. They need guidance and direction. They need solid authentic teaching. Their consciences need to be formed well. They need to be pastored. This is the work of leaders in the Church. Unfortunately there are today many bishops and priests and religious who have neglected their proper role.
* There is the parish priest who does not preach against contraception because he does not want to offend anyone.
* There is the Catholic university President who tolerates the open dissent of Catholic professors in the name of academic freedom.
* There is the seminary rector who allows dissident theologians to form the minds of impressionable seminarians.
* There is the bishop who will not speak clearly about how pro-abortion Catholic politicians are living in sin and should not receive the Eucharist.
We are losing the culture war. The culture of death is predominant in many societies and nations. Many Catholics do not know authentic Catholic teaching. The Church many times does not speak clearly about who is going astray.
It is late in the day. It is time to boldly proclaim authentic Catholic teaching, and to stand for what is right and good and oppose what is wrong and bad. This starts with our bishops. For the New Evangelization, it is “very imperative that Catholic bishops exercise strong pastoral leadership over the flock, especially concerning Catholic identity and doctrinal orthodoxy. They must speak clearly and forcefully in forming the consciences of Catholics. They will have to confront the secularization of Catholic educational institutions, the veering away of religious communities from orthodox faith, the staffing of diocesan and parish offices with modernists, the extreme liberalism of politicians who claim to be devout Catholics while openly for abortion and same-sex unions, the widespread acceptance of contraception and reproductive health among the laypeople, the open dissent of theologians and clerics. If necessary, they must look to ecclesiastical penalties such as interdict and excommunication. They must speak out as needed on moral issues as related to social, political, economic and environmental matters. They must rise up in defense of the Church Magisterium. They must work tirelessly to bring renewal and restoration in all the structures of Catholic life.” (From “The New Evangelization–A Work of the Divine Family”).
The New Evangelization is a God-given opportunity for the whole Catholic Church to cleanse her ranks, to bring back the strays, to strengthen the faith, and to become the truly evangelizing and missionary church that God intends her to be.
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