|Loss of the sense of the sacred – Oct 24|
|Synod – Synod Implementation|
By Vernon Khelawan
The importance the Holy Father has placed on the new evangelisation was further heightened last week, when he unveiled a new Vatican agency and specifically tasked it with combatting the “de-Christianisation” of countries that were first evangelised centuries ago.
In an apostolic letter, defining the need for the new agency, the pope warned of a progressive detachment from religious faith, especially in countries marked by scientific and economic progress. The new council, he said, would encourage a clearer understanding of the faith and help “remake the Christian fabric of human society”.
Concretising a view this column has always tried to extrapolate, the pope said the situations were different in each country, so a “single formula” of new evangelisation was impractical.
The new Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelisation, is headed by its president Archbishop Rino Fisichella, who, speaking at a news conference on launch day October 12, said, missionary activity in modern societies requires a systematic effort against the “lack of awareness of the basic contents of the faith” among many Catholics.
But he warned that there was a need to prevent the new evangelisation as coming across like an abstract formula. “We need to fill this idea with theological and pastoral content and we’ll do it on the strength of the magisterium of these last decades,” the archbishop added.
In his apostolic letter, Pope Benedict XVI identified a variety of features of Western society in the weakening of religious faith, like advances in science and technology; the widening of individual freedoms and lifestyle choices; profound economic changes; the mixing of cultures and ethnic groups brought about by migration; and the growing interdependence among peoples.
He admitted that while these changes had brought about benefits for many, they had often been accompanied by a “worrisome loss of the sense of the sacred.” He added that this erosion of religious values had led to a questioning of fundamental truths that once formed the basis of human society, such as “faith in God the creator, the revelation of Jesus Christ as the unique saviour and the shared understanding of such fundamental experiences of man as living, dying and living in a family.”
And while many have seen these changes as liberation, the pope said others had seen that an “interior desert” was formed when people try to live without such essential values. He said the new Council would address these expressions of religious indifference, which were today more worrisome than “declared atheism”.