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Evangelization synod participants preview their roles
By Kevin J. Jones
A view of the Middle East synod. Credit: Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem.
A view of the Middle East synod. Credit: Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem.

.- U.S. appointees to the upcoming bishops’ synod on the New Evangelization say the event will help advance evangelization in the world despite contemporary challenges.

Archbishop Jose H. Gomez of Los Angeles said the synod is especially important because “each of us is called by our baptism to tell the world about Jesus and about the joy of believing in him.”

“Jesus is the answer to every question in every human heart, yet communicating this simple but profound truth in today’s world can often be a challenging task,” said Archbishop Gomez, the only U.S. bishop appointed to the synod’s Thirteenth Ordinary General Assembly.

The synod’s general assembly will gather together about 200 bishops at the Vatican Oct. 7-28 to consult with the Pope. The synod’s working document stresses the need for “new tools and new forms of expression to make the Word of God more understandable in the life of modern man.”

Archbishop Gomez said Sept. 20 he was “grateful and humbled” that Pope Benedict XVI selected him to attend the general assembly. He said his appointment signaled the significance of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles in promoting the New Evangelization.

With Pope Benedict’s approval, synod secretary general Archbishop Nikola Eterovic has appointed several U.S. experts and auditors to serve as consultants and observers during the event, whose theme is “The New Evangelization for the Transmission of the Christian Faith.”

The auditors include Curtis Martin, founder and president of the Fellowship of Catholic University Students.

“We need to know Christ, we need to be in a relationship with him and talking with him,” he told CNA Sept. 24. “It’s when people are in an intimate relationship with God that they will take on the role of evangelizing and renewing the culture.”

He said it is a “tremendous honor” and a “real thrill” to be so close to Pope Benedict and “some of the best leaders in the Church.”

Martin said he hopes his contribution to the synod will be to emphasize “the centrality of the evangelization of the individual person” as the foundation for evangelizing cultures.

Edward Peters, a canon law professor at the Sacred Heart Major Seminary of Detroit, said he is “delighted” and “more than a little bit humbled” to be named an expert to the synod.

He said several of the appointed experts are “clergy and laity of great wisdom and experience.”

“I have no doubt that I will learn much more than I teach in such an assembly,” he said.

Peters said he thinks he brings a “good awareness” of canon law’s potential for service in the Church, and also awareness of its limitations.

“The New Evangelization will rely in part on sound ecclesial institutions for its implementation,” he said, explaining that he will advise the synod’s bishops on what canonical structures “best serve the needs of the Church today.”

Synod experts can launch an intervention, which is a short statement of their position on the topic up for discussion at the synod’s meetings. Under Pope Benedict, auditors are sometimes given an opportunity to weigh-in as well.

Other synod experts from the U.S. include Sr. Sara Butler, M.S.B.T., professor at St. Mary of the Lake University in Mundelein and a member of the International Theological Commission; Fr. Jeremy Driscoll, O.S.B., professor at Rome’s St. Anselm Pontifical Athenaeum and liturgy professor at the Mount Angel Seminary in St. Benedict, Oregon; Ralph Martin, director of graduate theological programs in the new evangelization at Detroit’s Sacred Heart Seminary; and Sr. Paula Jean Miller, F.S.E., theology professor at the University of St. Thomas in Houston.

Auditors include Carl Anderson, Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus; Marylee J. Meehan, president of the International Catholic Committee of Nurses and Medico-Social Assistants; Peter Murphy, executive director of the U.S. bishops’ Secretariat for Evangelization and Catechesis; and Sr. Mary Lou Wirtz, F.C.J.M, president of the International Union of Superiors General.

Tags: New Evangelization, Synod of Bishops


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