Sections 61 through 64 address “Why We Are Issuing the Plan Now.” It’s a good question. GMD was issued 17 years after Pope Paul’s Evangelii Nuntiandi, the premier universal document on evangelization since Vatican II. It came 27 years after Ad Gentes. One might be tempted to ask, “What took them so long?” But given the general lukewarmness in American Catholicism top to bottom, despite the emphasis given by two significant popes, we have the perspective of twenty years-plus of not taking this effort truly, deeply, seriously.
GMD 61 cites universal documents, as well as a deepening awareness in the 20th century of Scripture and of “the mystery of the Church.” GMD 62 acknowledges the pope of the time, then just past the midpoint of his service to the universal Church. GMD 63 documents the attention the US bishops gave to Hispanic and Black Catholics in issuing 1988 pastoral plans. And there’s another document, Heritage and Hope: Evangelization in the United States, a publication I just learned about.
The bishops conclude:
All this movement and all these documents call us to reexamine our hearts and recommit our wills to the pursuit of evangelization; they motivate us to issue this plan to make evangelization a natural and normal part of Catholic life and to give evangelizers the tools and support they need to carry out this ministry today. (GMD 64)
Evangelization as “natural and normal.” May it be so.