.- Ireland’s delegation to the Synod of Bishops on the New Evangelization presented ways to re-evangelize a country shaken by abuse scandals, undermined by poor catechesis and assaulted by secularism.
“(T)he Church must now speak with a voice which is hopeful yet humble, confident yet compassionate, with a claim to authority that must be more evidently rooted in the Gospel and the love of Christ,” said Bishop Kieran O’Reilly of Killaloe during the Oct. 16 afternoon session of the synod.
“This is the context in which the new evangelization will take place” in Ireland, he stated.
Referring to the abuse scandals, Bishop O’Reilly said the Church in Ireland is living the “recent crises in a dramatic way.”
But he expressed hope for renewal through a 10-year program of re-evangelization that the bishops’ conference will be implementing. It will emphasize catechesis and deep appreciation for Christ’s message.
Bishop O’Reilly also said the New Evangelization must involve a “fuller and significant biblical apostolate.”
Addressing the same synod session was the other member of the Irish delegation, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin.
He broached a subject pertinent to Ireland that also has broader relevance to the English-speaking world. The archbishop warned about “the manipulation of language and the management of information where the meaning of words is changed and manipulated for commercial, ideological or political motives.”
He said this has had an especially confusing effect upon youth.
“Young people live in a culture of relativism, and indeed, banalization of the truth often without even being aware of it,” he said. “It is a culture which they did not create. They may not know any other culture, yet they must find Christ in the midst of this culture while they have little familiarity with the language of faith.”
While taking heart in the ardor of groups of young Catholics who have “found strength and support in events such as World Youth Day,” he said the Church must reach out to those young people who “find themselves very much alone among their classmates and fellow students and indeed may experience hostility and incomprehension as they try to find or maintain their faith in Jesus Christ.”
What is the Church doing to reach out to them? he asked.
“Where are we present among the large student population, especially for those whose basic Christian education may well have been all but superficial in either family or school? The challenge of the New Evangelization must be marked by a robust confrontation of ideas, not in terms of ideological aggression, but in helping young people in the discernment of ideas.”
Archbishop Martin pointed out that the “culture of individualism” leaves young truth-seekers especially lonely and recommended that the Church can counteract it by creating a variety of “new ecclesial communities, not just those of the ecclesial movements, but around our parishes, which will be the building blocks of the Eucharistic communities of the future.”