The October 2012 Synod of Bishops in Rome is likely to identify the family as the key place for beginning the re-evangelization of the Western world.
“The primary place for the transmission of faith was identified in the family,” said a communiqué issued by the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops on Feb. 27.
“There the faith is communicated to young people who, in the family, learn both the contents and practice of Christian faith.”
The statement was the result of the secretariat’s seventh meeting in a series intended to pave the way for the Synod of Bishops, which will be held in the Vatican from October 7-28. Over those three weeks the bishops of the world will gather to discuss “The New Evangelization for the transmission of the Christian faith.”
The Ordinary Council of the General Secretariat consists of senior clerics from around the globe, including Cardinal Francis George of Chicago, and is currently preparing a working document that the Synod will base its discussions on.
At the secretariat’s Feb. 16 meeting in Rome, the role of the family emerged during their discussions on “the recipients of the new evangelization and the identity of Christians in their relationship with Christ.”
They recognized that other bodies within the Church have to support the family in its evangelization.
“The indispensable efforts of families are then extended by catechesis in ecclesial institutions, especially through the liturgy with the sacraments and the homily,” said the communiqué, “or by giving space to parish missions, popular piety, movements and ecclesial communities.”
The council members also debated “a crisis in faith which is also a crisis in the transmission of faith,” at this present time.
They said the “fruitlessness of current evangelization” is often tied to “the influence of modern culture which makes the transmission of the faith particularly difficult” and “represents a challenge for both Christians and the Church.”
“In this context,” they said, “the Year of Faith will be a good occasion to develop the gift of the faith received from the Lord, to live it and transmit it to others.”
The Year of Faith will be launched by Pope Benedict XVI in October so that it coincides with the Synod of Bishops. It will run from October 11, 2012, until November 24, 2013, the Solemnity of Christ the King.
Announcing the initiative last October, the Pope said he wanted the year to give “new impetus to the mission of the whole Church to lead men out of the desert in which they often find themselves, to the place of life, of friendship with Christ.”
He is particularly eager to re-evangelize traditionally Christian countries that have become more secularized in recent decades, a task that is known as undertaking the New Evangelization.