"You will be my witnesses." (Acts 1:8)
Our Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI himself has designated the New Evangelization as the theme for the 2012 meeting of the Synod of Bishops. The New Evangelization is a renewed effort to take up the Church's perennial mission with new ardor, new methods, and new forms of expression. This synod of the Universal Church will surely offer themes and wisdom about the New Evangelization that will help give shape to our own local response to this call to evangelize. Pope Benedict had already established the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization, and in his 2010 motu proprio establishing this pontifical council, the Holy Father writes powerfully about the importance of evangelization: "It is the duty of the Church to proclaim always and everywhere the Gospel of Jesus Christ…the mission of evangelization, a continuation of the work desired by the Lord Jesus, is necessary for the Church: it cannot be overlooked; it is an expression of her very nature." (Ubicumque et Semper, 1) All that we do in the Church must have at its heart this great mission of sharing Christ with all people.
In the interest of providing a sense about "the road ahead," I want to take this opportunity to share with you a significant response of our local Church to the call to engage in the New Evangelization. I intend to convoke a synod on the New Evangelization for the whole Archdiocese. A synod is a special assembly of clergy, religious, and lay faithful called together for the purpose of prayer, dialogue, and planning about a matter of great importance to the life of the Church. Clearly, we are already embarked upon a number of important and labor intensive projects, so it will be some time before we are prepared to celebrate a synod of this kind. However, this synod holds a great deal of promise for the future of the Archdiocese of Detroit and makes good sense for us to begin, even now, to think about what shape such a synod might take, and to consider the central role of evangelization in the life of the Church.
"You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be witnesses in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." (Acts 1:8)
In his own reflections upon the New Evangelization, Blessed John Paul II spoke of a "new springtime" for the Church, a phrase that expressed the late Holy Father's indomitable hope, even in the difficult conditions of the world in which he made this bold claim. Here in the Archdiocese of Detroit, we need this spirit of bold hope, which is to say we need the Holy Spirit to enliven our hearts during these difficult days. Our Lord promised this help to his apostles when he said before his Ascension, "You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." (Acts 1:8)