These last two paragraphs of the chapter discussing the context of the goals (GMD 80-88), treat two different concerns.
One is related to getting evangelization out of the program mindset of many American parishes. The bishops call for an attitude adjustment “top to bottom.” Evangelization won’t work unless we focus 24/7/365. A reminder for the small church crowd:
(W)e cannot welcome only some people. (GMD 87)
We have missed this memo:
Everywhere Americans see Catholics and Catholic institutions they should sense the spirit of evangelization.
To be sure, few cultures (if any) in the world are friendly to faith. This should be less an excuse for Catholics than an awareness of a reality, and placing our efforts not in the mode of entitlement, but as a long and arduous process. There will be long seasons without fruit.
The bishops list these challenges:
- people may prefer stereotypes of the Catholic Church to a
true picture of our faith
- people will see the Catholic Church only as an organization of a certain
economic class or educational level rather than as a richly varied and inviting
- a superficial pluralism makes it hard for people to discuss
faith seriously in our society.
The bishops judge the challenge of morality to be the most serious:
(M)oral issues, … make the Good News hard to hear by people whose values are contrary to the Gospel and who must experience change in order to hear the message of life we proclaim. (GMD 88)
And we have been stung by moral issues within the Church, especially the hierarchy. Many people perceive the Church to be insufficiently moral. That has been a millstone for us, and an obstacle that has taken the bishops totally by surprise in the past decade.
Evangelization is a very difficult mission indeed. It may be tempting to stick to the easy stuff: preaching to the choir, apologetics, the Friday fish fry.
From here, we’ll move next to the goals and suggested strategies. That should take us at least through the next week. Meanwhile, any comments on the challenges to evangelization? How has the mismanagement of sex predators harmed our efforts?