May 27, 2018
The Catholic Church in the U.S. has been committed since Vatican II to a new and vigorous program of evangelization. However, discussions and writings on what this means have often suffered from inadequate clarity.
The word “evangelization” itself may be part of the problem. While it clearly means proclaiming the Gospel, it is not always evident how this takes place. Perhaps the word “evangelization” is hampered by its association with evangelical Protestantism with its emphasis on Bible preaching and charismatic conversion processes.
While this model of evangelization can be instructive for Catholicism, it is necessary to distinguish Protestant evangelization from Catholic evangelization.
If Protestant evangelization is word-centered, Catholic evangelization is sacrament-centered. Catholic evangelization is properly guided by the affirmation of Vatican II that the Church has the character of a “sacrament,” a “sign and instrument” of God’s saving activity in the world.