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Leading prelates speak about mounting worldwide secularization

October 09, 2012

Addressing the afternoon session of the Synod of Bishops on October 8, the presidents of five continent-wide groups of episcopal conferences offered insight into the spread of secularization in their regions.

“Europe must be evangelized. It needs it,” said Cardinal Péter Erdõ, president of the Council of European Episcopal Conferences. “De-Christianization is accompanied by repeated juridical, as well as physical, attacks against the visible presence of the manifestations of faith … The vast majority of cases of violence and of discrimination because of religious belief are acted out against Christians, especially Catholics, in Europe.”

“In the majority of the continent, there is a spreading of ignorance about the Christian faith,” he added. “Many of the mass-media broadcast a presentation of the Christian faith and history that is full of lies, misinforming the public as to the content of our faith as well as to what makes up the reality of the Church.”

“Another challenging factor which New Evangelization in Africa must not overlook is the actuality of Islamic fundamentalism on the continent,” said Tanzanian Cardinal Polycarp Pengo, president of the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar. “In regard to this, the evangelizers must face the difficulty of dialoguing with the vast majority of good Muslims who however, are mute and the small groups of fundamentalists who are not prepared to accept even objective truth which is opposed to their preconceived position.”

In addition to the five leaders of continent-wide groups of episcopal conferences, three other prelates spoke, including Cardinal Angelo Sodano, dean of the College of Cardinals.

“The phrase ‘for the transmission of the faith’ does not seem entirely adequate, because as we well know, faith is not transmitted on our part, since it comes from the grace of God, as well as from the decision of man who welcomes such a gift,” he said. “And it is precisely to invoke such grace that the Church constantly proposes to us the apostolate of prayer alongside the apostolate of action.”

Recently having reread the Book of Revelation, Cardinal Sodano said he was “able to reflect on the reality of evil in the world, as on the mystery of man’s freedom, who although he sees the light, sometimes prefers to remain in darkness. Similarly I wished to meditate on the pages of the Apocalypse that describe to us the devastating presence of Satan in human history. But it is always comforting to read in the same Book of Revelation how in the end it is the victorious power of Christ which shines over all human misery.”

“We should all carry out our work of evangelization in great humility, knowing that we are not the first to work in the vineyard of the Lord nor will we be the last,” he added. “We are not the first because others, for 2,000 years, preceded us in this pastoral undertaking. We are not even the last because others will come after us to continue this work, until the end of human history, when we will have a new heaven and new earth.”


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