The Fisichella Initiative

Yesterday’s post on the assembly of archbishops under the auspices of the Pontifical Council for New Evangelisation seems to lead to far more concrete steps than the piece in the Vatican Insider led us to believe.

Archbishop Fisichella himself explains as much in a piece in l’Osservatore Romano.

Benedict XVI, speaking to the first plenary assembly of the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization, said that it was of decisive importance to go beyond the fragmentation of society and offer concrete answers to the great challenges of today. To fill this need, a “metropolitan mission” has been put into action. The goal is simple: to give a sign of unity among the diverse dioceses present in the largest European cities that have been particularly affected by secularization.

At the moment, the initiative is limited to some of the larger European dioceses in order more concretely test its effectiveness. The project, however, should eventually extend beyond the borders of the old continent, albeit with modalities which respect the different cultural and ecclesial traditions.

Regarding concrete action, the following passages are most significant:

[T]he “metropolitan mission” intends to be a first step. It will be achieved through common and contemporaneous initiatives, in ordinary pastoral work with special attention to formation, and through public activities offered to the city during Lent 2012.

[…]

The cathedral will be the place of these activities. Firstly, through a continual reading of the Gospels, to place the Word of God at the center. Then, three catechisms of the bishop dedicated to young people, to families and to catechumens on the themes of faith; then, a celebration of the sacrament of reconciliation to draw attention to confession and for its high anthropological value. An activity of charity will complete the experience to demonstrate that faith that is professed and prayed is also witnessed. Finally, a sign of spirituality of a cultural character will be given by the reading of various significant texts, such as excerpts from the Confessions of St. Augustine.

As I concluded in yesterday’s post, this will be an ideal opportunity to learn from the past experiences of individual dioceses. Msgr. Fisichella concludes his article editorial as follows:

Thanks to this initiative, the dioceses work together on a common project, strengthened by their individual experiences of the past, they sustain each other in the common difficulties they encounter. They look to the future with the hope of unity and with the intention of recuperating a sense of involvement and responsibility, favoring the creative and credible contribution of Christians.

Read the full text via the link provided above.

Archbishop Fisichella calls Europe’s main archbishops to Rome

Archbishop Salvatore "Rino" Fisichella

In what seems to be an attempt to establish local centres of evangelisation in those areas most affected by secularisation, Archbishop Rino Fischella of the Pontifical Council for New Evangelisation has met with the archbishops of some of the most important European archdioceses. Specifically, they came from archdioceses who themselves “have put into play new evangelization initiatives in European countries where the Catholic faith is going through a season of deep crisis”, the Vatican Insider reports.

Meeting with Archbishop Fisichella and with one another to exchange ideas, plans and experiences, were Péter Cardinal Erdő (Esztergom-Budapest), Archbishop Diarmuid Martin (Dublin), Joachim Cardinal Meisner (Cologne), José Cardinal Policarpo (Lisbon), Archbishop André-Joseph Léonard (Brussels), Archbishop Patrick Kelly (Liverpool), Christoph Cardinal Schönborn (Vienna), Kazimierz Cardinal Nycz (Warsaw), Archbishop Cesare Nosiglia (Turin), Lluís Cardinal Martínez Sistach (Barcelona) and André Cardinal Vingt-Trois (Paris).

A select company with some striking gaps; there are major European dioceses which are not represented. It may be concluded that these have yet to implement plans and projects for new evangelisation, but perhaps this meeting can be a starting point for them. If the Pontifical Council can collect the plans that exist and use them to take further steps, perhaps on a larger European scale, it may be able to learn from the experiences of those ‘on the ground’, so to speak. A good approach, it seems, which does not disregard what developments have already been made.

Photo credit: REUTERS/Alessandro Bianch

A Pontifical Council for New Evangelisation?

I’ve been reading reports about the establishment of a Pontifical Council for New Evangelisation in the near future, under te leadership of Archbishop Rino Fisichella, who now heads the Pontifical Academy for Life. It is said to take over some of the responsibility from the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples, and concern itself with evangelisation in areas where the Catholic faith is in decline, most specifically Europe and North America.

It’s not confirmed by any source in the Vatican, of course, but it is believable and interesting. Whereas the Church in Africa and Italy is flourishing, in western countries she is in a crisis. To create a specific Council, which is a department within the Vatican, for the purpose of re-evangelising those areas makes sense. After all, the entire situation is totally different from other continents, and up till now the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples had to balance their responsibilities in both these areas.

The term ‘New Evangelisation’ dates from the early years of the pontificate of Pope John Paul II, and it has been something that Pope Benedict XVI has concerned himself with as well. Creating a Pontifical Council is not something he ahs done before, but perhaps it can be seen as yet another step in the pope’s slow but steady overhaul of certain aspects of the Vatican and the Church.

I’m curious to see how this’ll take shape.