What a sight the Church is! What a sight this institution is, at once so human as to have a traitor in the apartments of Christ’s vicar and so holy as to have missionaries at the four corners of the earth. But the time has come, says the Pope, to realize that the land of mission is not far off, but here in the Christian West, in the schools, factor­ies and offices where we live and where Christianity, for those who have memories of it, has turned into a habit, into hackneyed phrases unable to fascinate, to inspire people’s lives and stir their hearts.

A new evangelization is needed, Benedict XVI explains in St. Peter’s Square, as a light wind ruffles his hair and shakes the plumes on the helmets of the Swiss Guard, a tourist attraction with their anachronistic halberds.

“This new evangelization,” says the Pope during the opening Mass of the Synod dedicated to it, “is addressed to all those who, though having been baptized, have strayed from the Church and have abandoned the Christian life altogether.”

Pope Benedict speaks during the first working session of the Synod on the New Evangelization, October 8 (Galazka photos).

Pope Benedict speaks during the first working session of the Synod on the New Evangelization, October 8 (Galazka photos).

There is a pause, after which the Holy Father resumes his speech listened to by thousands of faithful from all over the world: “We need a new encounter with the Lord, the only encounter that gives peace and meaning to life.”

What an attractive sight the Church is! What a great taste for beauty it shows! The celebration is accompanied by chant; one thousand priests go down the parvis to distribute Communion, the presence of the living God, and in the crowded square there is palpable silence and respect. There has never been such a crowded assembly of bishops in the Church’s history. White miters stand out along with hats, colored and embroidered with golden threads, worn by bishops of different rites. Two hundred sixty-two bishops will participate in the Synod, which will end on October 28. Another 100 bishops attend the opening Mass; they come from Germany and Spain because the Pope has decided to proclaim two new doctors of the Church, St. Hildegard of Bingen and St. John of Avila. Sainthood in the Church, in fact, is not a thing of the past, but, as those who live their faith know very well, it is something alive at all times. Also, the announcement that Christ is alive, that He is the answer to our often misperceived needs, does not require strategies prepared in advance, pastoral plans or long organizational meetings, which are often resorted to in the Church. The Synod should avoid this perspective error. The Holy Father speaks of something else. He says: “Saints are the real protagonists of evangelization.” He refers to the creativity of the Holy Spirit, who blows where He wills…


Sidebar: Hilarion Spoke to the Catholic Bishops’ Synod in Rome

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