Fifty years since Vatican II
Pope Benedict XVI opened New Evangelization synod and Year of Faith in October . . .
Catholic Church of 2012 possesses “a more sober and humble joy” compared to the optimism that marked the Second Vatican Council’s opening 50 years ago,” according to Pope Benedict XVI.
“Over these 50 years we have learned and experienced how original sin exists and is translated, ever and anew, into individual sins which can also become structures of sin,” the Pope said during a candlelight vigil in St. Peter’s Square that marked the opening of the Year of Faith on Oct. 11.
“We have seen how weeds are also always present in the field of the Lord,” he added. “We have seen how human fragility is also present in the Church, how the ship of the Church is also sailing against a counter wind and is threatened by storms; and at times we have thought that the Lord is sleeping and has forgotten us.”
Year of Faith
The Holy Father spoke from the window of his study in scenes deliberately reminiscent of the opening day of Second Vatican Council on Oct. 11, 1962.
“On this day 50 years ago I was in the square looking up at this window where the Good Pope, Blessed John XXIII, appeared and addressed us with unforgettable words, words full of poetry and goodness, words from the heart,” Benedict recalled.
A young priest, he had participated in the Second Vatican Council as an academic adviser to Cardinal Joseph Frings of Cologne. The Pope also recalled how the happy and enthusiastic crowds of 1962 were certain that “a new springtime for the Church was in the offing.
“Today too we are happy. We have joy in our hearts but, I would say, it is perhaps a more sober and humble joy,” he said.
Over the past half-century, he said, the Church has repeatedly witnessed “how the Lord does not forget us” but, instead, has brought forth new signs of life throughout the Church that “illuminate the world and give us a guarantee of God’s goodness.”
A few days earlier, the Holy Father inaugurated the Synod for the New Evangelization. Bishops from around the world gathered in Rome to discuss and plan ways to implement the new evangelization in the Church and in their dioceses.
Two Legates attended the synod. Curtis Martin, Denver Chapter, attended as a consultor and Ralph Martin (no relation), Ann Arbor Chapter, attended as an expert. Both men are members of the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization.
The Pope officially opened the synod, under the theme “The New Evangelization and the Transmission of the Christian Faith” with the celebration of Mass in St. Peter’s Square on Oct. 7.
In his homily, Benedict reflected on Christ’s call to announce the Gospel around the world. He stressed the role of the Catholic Church, saying that the “Church exists to evangelize.”
“Such renewed evangelical dynamism produces a beneficent influence on the two specific ‘branches’ developed by it, that is, on the one hand the missio ad gentes or announcement of the Gospel to those who do not yet know Jesus Christ and his message of salvation, and on the other the new evangelization, directed principally at those who, though baptized, have drifted away from the Church and live without reference to the Christian life.”
The Pope reiterated the synodal assembly’s purpose to evangelize those who have strayed from the faith, saying its rediscovery can be a “source of grace which brings joy and hope to personal, family and social life.”
In recalling the Second Vatican Council’s call to holiness for all Christians, Benedict said the call to holiness also helps us to contemplate the fragility, and even the sins of Christians. He emphasized that it’s not possible to speak of the new evangelization without “a sincere desire for conversion.”
The Holy Father concluded his homily asking the intercession of the saints and “great evangelizers” — particularly his predecessor, Blessed John Paul II, referring to the late pope’s pontificate as “an example of the new evangelization.”
This article contains reporting from the Catholic News Agency