Top-Heavy Evangelism

Do I detect a note of urgency on the New Euro-re-evangelization front? Finally? What is this–two centuries too late?

From Austen Ivereigh’s commentary at the America blog, after he lays out the who’s who of prelates involved:

Their task now is to devise strategies for reaching out to Europe’s secularized, individualized, atomized, urban soul. The agenda is pretty much laid out in the Pope’s book-length interview Light of the World, in which he speaks of popular identification with the Church “melting away” in the Western world, where “we are headed increasingly towards a form of Christianity based on personal decision”. Convinced, as he says earlier, that “Christianity is on the verge of a new dynamic”, he speaks of how important it is to “consolidate, enliven and enlarge” this “Christianity of personal decision, so that more people can consciously live and profess their faith again”.

Expect plenty of city missions, events in tents, and no shortage of experiments with digital media –as well as gatherings of church movements and charismatic groups, all designed to enable the still small voice of God to be heard above the noise of the modern European city. But above all, it will be the experience of the church movements — which understand the importance of personal commitment — which help guide these strategies. This is not about restoring a mass Catholicism, but encouraging the growth of what the Pope has in the past called the “little cells” of faith. It’s what the movements, with their urban habits and flexible formats but strong prayer and other commitments, are well placed to help the European Church embrace.

I think I’d feel more reassured if this blue-ribbon panel were more figureheads (we can hope) and the real work was being done by people who actually practice evangelization, instead of pounding the PR circuit, denying evolution, cover-up, and politicians Communion.

This actually strikes me as a concession to secularism: the Clinton-Bush-Obama tactic of throwing highly-regarded suits at a problem no matter how badly they bombed in their past assignment. More effective, perhaps, would be to uncover the parishes, communities, and apostolates doing good work in Europe, and putting those people to work on the larger problem.

Bishops hoping to recover a ecclesiastical pseudo-aristocracy on a continent that has relegated its entitled class to tabloid fodder? Hopefully there’s both brain and muscle behind this group, people with ideas that can transcend Pope Benedict’s pessimism and lack of trust.

Meanwhile, anybody invited someone back to church lately? Or are we waiting for marching orders that may never come on time?

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About catholicsensibility

Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
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