The Catholic Church in England and Wales plans to distribute one million “faith cards” to every parish in the country in a bid to help all baptized Catholics to know, live and share their faith.
“We all carry a variety of cards in our purses and wallets which reflect something of our identity and the things that are important to us,” explained Bishop Kieran Conry, Chairman of the Bishops’ Department for Evangelization and Catechesis.
“The faith card for Catholics aims to offer a daily reminder of what it means to be a follower of Jesus Christ. We can’t summarize the whole of our faith in bullet points, but we hope that the card simply inspires people to do, read and learn more.”
The new document is the size of a credit card. On one side it lists six things that a Catholic is called to do: “Share with others the joy of knowing Jesus Christ, Pray, Celebrate the sacraments regularly, Love my neighbor as myself, Use the gifts that I’ve been given wisely, and Forgive as I have been forgiven.”
There is also a space for the owner to sign their name, with the additional request that “in the event of an emergency please contact a Catholic priest.”
On the reverse side is a quote from the 19th-century English cleric Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman, taken from his 1848 “Meditations on Christian Doctrine.” In it Cardinal Newman explains that “God has created me to do Him some definite service; He has committed some work to me which He has not committed to another.”
Bishop Conry explained that the card is “also designed to give Catholics confidence to share their faith – often people need help knowing what to say. Faith is a not a private matter.”
The Catholic Church in England and Wales hopes that the card will help prepare the way for the Pope Benedict’s Year of Faith, which begins in October 2012. The Pope hopes the year will spur a “new evangelization” of those traditionally Christian countries which are currently experiencing the rise of radical secularism.
“Carrying a faith card takes courage, it signals to others, every time you use your wallet or purse, that you believe in God, that your life has a purpose, that you are trying to love and serve your neighbor,” explained Bishop Conry.
“We hope that Catholics will use it to witness to their faith. If someone asks a question about Catholicism, a starting point could be to show the card and to take it from there.”
The cards are free and will be distributed to 24 dioceses, including the Bishopric of the Forces and the new Anglican Ordinariate, during February and March.