.- The head of the new Vatican office in charge of the ânew evangelization,â said he is encouraged by the support he has received from local churches around the world.
Archbishop Rino Fisichella, president of the newly minted Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelization, spoke about his plans a press conference Feb. 17. The conference marked the Vaticanâs release of a book documenting the Churchâs celebrations of the Year of St. Paul, which closed June 28, 2009.
Archbishop Fisichella said the new council is working to establish its scope in collaboration with many international institutions and associations already in place in the world.
When Pope Benedict XVI announced the new councilâs creation last June, he asked the council to address the âprogressive secularizationâ of historically Christian areas of the world.
âThere is not only much enthusiasm, there is an enormous expectation about the what could be the work of this department,â said Archbishop Fisichella. He noted particular support from episcopal conferences and bishops, but also from âmany, many lay people and associationsâ internationally.
âMany are already acting specifically in new evangelization and itâs not surprising because ... new evangelization was spoken about during the entire pontificate of John Paul II,â he said.
The council, he said, is planning two encounters for this spring to improve its vision of existing programs in the world. A two-day event will take place in March with âspecialists in new evangelizationâ and another in May to examine the âfirst forms of new evangelizationâ in the current environment.
Archbishop Fisichella said that things are not moving forward too quickly, but he is also keeping in mind the upcoming Synod of Bishops in October 2012. Bishops from all over the world will gather at the Vatican to study âThe New Evangelization for the Transmission of the Christian Faithâ over a matter of weeks.
The council will have a more defined idea of its mission after the deliberations of the bishops and especially after Pope Benedict XVI releases his reflections on the synodâs results, the archbishop said.
The Popeâs reflections and instructions come in the form of an Apostolic Exhortation, which can take years to be produced. The document from the Vaticanâs Synod for the Bible in October 2008 was released in November 2010, for example.
On the occasion of the new book on the Year of St. Paul, the archbishop spoke of the importance of remembering the saintâs teaching and evangelizing mission and their relevance to life of the Church today.
The evangelization and doctrine of St. Paul, he said, is âa stimulus, if not a guarantee, for the consolidation of the Christian identity of each of us and for the rejuvenation of the entire Church.â
The new council is closely tied to St. Paul. The announcement of its creation came from the Pope during a prayer vigil on the eve of the Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul at the Basilica of St. Paul Outside-the-walls, where the apostleâs tomb is located.