The New Evangelization, building the civilization of love

Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger
Address to Catechists and Religion Teachers
Jubilee of Catechists
December 12, 2000  (Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe)

Human life cannot be realized by itself. Our life is an open question, an incomplete project, still to be brought to fruition and realized. Each man’s fundamental question is: How will this be realized—becoming man? How does one learn the art of living? Which is the path toward happiness?

To evangelize means: to show this path—to teach the art of living. At the beginning of his public life Jesus says: I have come to evangelize the poor (Luke 4:18); this means: I have the response to your fundamental question; I will show you the path of life, the path toward happiness—rather: I am that path.

The deepest poverty is the inability of joy, the tediousness of a life considered absurd and contradictory. This poverty is widespread today, in very different forms in the materially rich as well as the poor countries. The inability of joy presupposes and produces the inability to love, produces jealousy, avarice—all defects that devastate the life of individuals and of the world.

This is why we are in need of a new evangelization—if the art of living remains an unknown, nothing else works. But this art is not the object of a science—this art can only be communicated by [one] who has life—he who is the Gospel personified … (continue reading)

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2 Responses to The New Evangelization, building the civilization of love

  1. William Horan says:

    The New Evangelization and the Poor

    We cannot solve the problems of the New Evangelization without the help of the poor.
    Cardinal Claudio Hummes gives us some direction when he states: “A servant church must have as its priority solidarity with the poor,” he said. “The faith must express itself in charity and in solidarity, which is the civil form of charity,” Hummes said.
    “Today more than ever, the church faces this challenge. In fact, effective solidarity with the poor, both individual persons and entire nations, is indispensable for the construction of peace. Solidarity corrects injustices, reestablishes the fundamental rights of persons and of nations, overcomes poverty and even resists the revolt that injustice provokes, eliminating the violence that is born with revolt and constructing peace.”
    May I suggest a way to practice this “solidarity” here in the USA:
    A “preferential option for the poor” should be maintained in our Catholic
    Schools. If we find that we cannot afford to keep our schools open to the
    poor, the schools should be closed and the resources used for something else
    which can be kept open to the poor. We cannot allow our Church to become a
    church primarily for the middle-class and rich while throwing a bone to the
    poor. The priority should be given to the poor even if we have to let the
    middle-class and rich fend for themselves.
    Practically speaking, the Catholic Schools must close and the resources
    used for “Confraternity of Christian Doctrine” and other programs which can
    be kept open to the poor. Remember, the Church managed without Catholic
    Schools for centuries. We can get along without them today. The essential
    factor is to cultivate enough Faith to act in the Gospel Tradition, namely,
    THE POOR GET PRIORITY. The rich and middle-class are welcome too. But the
    poor come first. (William Horan — w.horan@comcast.net.)

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