We asked the new cardinals: How should the Church evangelize the world today?
Pope Francis created 21 new cardinals for the Catholic Church on Saturday, Sept. 30, 2023. The men, whose ages range from 49 to 96, come from 15 different countries and five continents. | Vatican Media
Pope Francis created 21 new cardinals for the Catholic Church on Saturday. The men, whose ages range from 49 to 96, come from 15 different countries and five continents.
And while some of the cardinals pastor churches in the countries they are from, others have lived in places other than their home while serving the Church as diplomats.
From digital communication to hope to listening to the Gospel, here is what 12 of the cardinals told CNA they think is needed to evangelize the modern world:
Cardinal Grzegorz Ryś, 59, archbishop of Łódź, Poland: Listening
Ryś said there are two keys to evangelizing the modern world: “The first one is to listen to the Gospel as the living Word. So that means that we listen to Christ and the Holy Spirit. And the second thing is to listen to the people, otherwise there is no evangelization. Because evangelization, in the end, is the meeting of a person with a person: the person of the fellow living with us and the person of Christ coming to him. So you need to listen to both sides, otherwise there is no meeting.”
Cardinal Américo Aguiar, 49, bishop of Setúbal, Portugal: Digital communication
“We have to find the balance in this digital world … and the way of living, the mode of relating, of young people, is different than us,” Aguiar said, noting that the digital revolution has changed the culture almost on the scale of the Industrial Revolution.
“It’s a new world: It’s not better or worse, it’s different,” he said. “Communication is diverse. … We, at Mass, in conferences, speak, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, too much, blah, blah, blah. And we have quoted the Vatican documents, the pope’s documents, and everything … We, as pastors, have to convert to this new culture, because Christ and the Gospel are always the same. As John Paul II said ... the new evangelization had to be new in ardor, methods, and expressions. And I think we are still there, in discovering, adapting, converting to new methods and expressions, because Christ and the Gospel are always the same.”
Cardinal Stephen Ameyu Martin Mulla, 59, archbishop of South Sudan: Dialogue
“In our time, I think the most important thing for us to have is dialogue,” Mulla said. “Without dialogue among ourselves it will not be easy to live together. But where there is dialogue there is always the possibility of bringing our ideas together and sharing them and taking a common step. But without dialogue then our lives get complicated in society and even in the family.”
Cardinal Christophe Pierre, 77, apostolic nuncio to the United States: Kerygma
It’s very difficult to transmit Christian values today, Pierre said. “The challenge for the Church [in evangelization] is to reach out to the people — this is what Pope Francis tells us all the time — we are to reach out to people where they are, to understand them, to dialogue with them, and to propose to them the Good News, but in a new context. … We have to find ways to announce the Good News, the kerygma, in a new context.”
Cardinal Pierbattista Pizzaballa, OFM, 58, patriarch of Jerusalem: Jesus
“What I see that we need as a Church today, at least what I say to myself, is to tell the people that, to me, Jesus is the most wonderful thing that can happen in my life.”
Cardinal Agostino Marchetto, 83, retired apostolic nuncio and curial official: Love
Marchetto said to evangelize today, the thing most needed is “love, true love, love that keeps in mind what man is. Love that is not just a feeling, but has respect for the person, knows what it means to give of one’s self, what it means to not be self-centered. … Let’s not forget that God is love, and we discover, as he says, ‘to love one another, as I have loved you.’”
“What the pope insists on a lot is closeness. You cannot serve if you are not close and listen: Listening to the joys, the sorrows, the anguish of our people in order to be able to give an answer, not one that is up in the air, but one that responds to the concrete need. So I believe that the pope insists on this, on closeness. Not only physical closeness but existential closeness, spiritual closeness. It means knowing how to listen so that the language is from heart to heart.”
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Cardinal José Cobo Cano, 58, archbishop of Madrid, Spain: Hope
Cobo said to evangelize the modern world, the Church needs “to listen to the word of God” and evangelize together, “not each one with his own idea, but together and in the diversity that we have in today’s world.”
“Our call is to transmit the hope of God, that which we live communally in the midst of our world, which is a little bit the exercise that the synod wants us to do ... Learn to walk together to listen to what God wants at this moment. That is the message. And I believe that our world right now needs a lot of hope, good news, to give meaning and soul to the things we do, I think sometimes we have lost the soul of things.”
Cardinal Stephen Brislin, 67, archbishop of Cape Town, South Africa: Reaching out
Brislin said he thinks the Church’s biggest challenge today is how to evangelize, how to bring Christ to people. “That in trying to discern together, and to listen to each other, we need to develop ways of trying to reach out to others, particularly young people, who face so many different voices, so much noise in their lives, to be able to present the faith in a way that impacts on them and they can understand. I hope that will be a fruit of the synod, for a start, but I also believe that that is what we’ve got to work to together, saying, ‘How can we reach out to those who are dropping away from the faith, losing their faith, but most especially young people,’ because I think they really feel a need in their lives and we somehow aren’t answering that need.”
“It’s been wonderful that the present pope, and a number of the previous popes, have really tried to emphasize that we are all meant to evangelize people, and we evangelize people not only by speaking to them, but particularly by how we live our lives, and how our conduct and our ethical behavior proclaims who we are and what we are.”
Cardinal Claudio Gugerotti, 67, prefect of the Dicastery for Eastern Churches: The Gospel ‘sine glossa’
What is necessary to evangelize today, Gugerotti said, is “to let the Gospel speak. Try to avoid comments as much as possible. This is the only thing. The Gospel has been written for very simple people and its demand was to touch the heart. Whenever we start building systems of fault or politics on this we are spoiling the Gospel, and so the Gospel is diluted into a series of mental problems that have nothing to do with it. Let the Gospel speak without any comment: Evangelium ‘sine glossa.’”
Cardinal Stephen Chow Sau-yan, SJ, 64, archbishop of Hong Kong, China: Helping people know God
“I think it is important that we say Pope Francis made a distinction,” Chow said. “Evangelization is really to help people to understand the love of God — and the love of God without the agenda of turning them into Catholics — because that shouldn’t be the focus, as that focus would be very restrictive. So for them to come to understand [that] our God means love, means goodwill and a better life. And that’s important. Without that, you cannot help them to understand us. So evangelization should be really coming to know God who is love.”
Cardinal Luis José Rueda Aparicio, archbishop of Bogota, Colombia: Striving for peace
Rueda said the Church “was born to evangelize and to serve humanity,” adding that in Colombia specifically, evangelization “has a very strong and deep commitment to the search for reconciliation, justice, peace, and respect for life.”
“Because we have suffered the wounds of a seven-decade conflict, aggravated by the whole issue of drug trafficking in Latin America ... Therefore, the great challenge is to continue what other bishops, priests, laypeople, and catechists have done, which is to opt for the poor, for civil society, for life, and for peace.”
Courtney Mares, Jonathan Liedl, and Almudena Martínez-Bordiú contributed to this report.