St. John Paul II on the New Evangelization (Redemptoris missio, n. 33):
Looking at today’s world from the viewpoint of evangelization, we can distinguish three situations.
I. First, there is the situation which the Church’s missionary
activity addresses: peoples, groups, and sociocultural
contexts in which Christ and his Gospel are not
known, or which lack Christian communities sufficiently
mature to be able to incarnate the faith in their own
environment and proclaim it to other groups. This is
mission ad gentes in the proper sense of the term (52).
II. Secondly, there are Christian communities with
adequate and solid ecclesial structures. They are fervent
in their faith and in Christian living. They bear witness to
the Gospel in their surroundings and have a sense of
commitment to the universal mission. In these
communities the Church carries out her activity and
III. Thirdly, there is an intermediate situation, particularly
in countries with ancient Christian roots, and occasionally
in the younger Churches as well, where entire groups of baptized have lost a living sense of the faith, or even no longer consider themselves members of the Church, and live far removed from Christ and his Gospel. In this case what is needed is a "new evangelization" or a "re-evangelization." [Emphasis Added]
Pope Benedict XVI on the New Evangelization (Apostolic Letter Ubicumque et semper):
In our own time, [the Church’s mission] has been particularly challenged by an abandonment of the faith – a phenomenon progressively more manifest in societies and cultures which for centuries seemed to be permeated by the Gospel. I consider it opportune to offer appropriate responses so that the entire Church, allowing herself to be regenerated by the power of the Holy Spirit, may present herself to the contemporary world with a missionary impulse in order to promote the new evangelization. Above all, this pertains to Churches of ancient origin, which live in different situations and have different needs, and therefore require different types of motivation for evangelization: in certain territories, in fact, despite the spread of secularization, Christian practice still thrives and shows itself deeply rooted in the soul of entire populations; in other regions, however, there is clearly a distancing of society from the faith in every respect, together with a weaker ecclesial fabric, even if not without elements of liveliness that the Spirit never fails to awaken; we also sadly know of some areas that have almost completely abandoned the Christian religion, where the light of the faith is entrusted to the witness of small communities: these lands, which need a renewed first proclamation of the Gospel, seem particularly resistant to many aspects of the Christian message.
This variety of situations demands careful discernment; to speak of a “new evangelization” does not in fact mean that a single formula should be developed that would hold the same for all circumstances. And yet it is not difficult to see that what all the Churches living in traditionally Christian territories need is a renewed missionary impulse, an expression of a new, generous openness to the gift of grace.
The New Evangelization as Described by the Faculty of Sacred Heart Major Seminary:
The New Evangelization is the continuation of the Church’s fundamental mission of evangelization, directed now toward many of the baptized “who have lost a living sense of faith or even no longer consider themselves members of the Church, and live a life far removed from Christ and His Gospel” (Redemptoris missio, 33). The New Evangelization is ordered to “Christian conversion… a complete and sincere adherence to Christ and his Gospel through faith… Conversion means accepting, by a personal decision, the saving sovereignty of Christ and becoming his disciple” (Redemptoris missio, 46).
The New Evangelization is new in:
- To whom it is addressed
- Who does it (all the baptized)
- Its relation to the post-Christian cultural situation which it must address
- Its “methods, ardor and expression” (a “tag line” of sorts from St. John Paul II)
Observation of Cardinal Donald Wuerl:
At its heart the New Evangelization is the re-proposing of the encounter with the Risen Lord, his Gospel and his Church to those who no longer find the Church’s message engaging.