1. Jesus Christ was sent by the Father to proclaim the Gospel, calling all people to conversion and faith. After his resurrection, he entrusted the continuation of his mission of evangelization to the Apostles, "As the Father has sent me, so I send you". By means of the Church, Christ wants to be present in every historical epoch, ever place on earth and every sector of society, in order to reach every person, so that thee may be one flock and one shepherd: "Go out into the whole world and preach the Gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved, but he who does not believe will be condemned."
The Apostles, therefore, "prompted by the Spirit, invited all to change their lives, to be converted and to be baptized", because the "pilgrim Church is necessary for salvation". It is the same Lord Jesus Christ who, present in his Church, goes before the work of evangelizers, accompanies it, follows it, and makes their labours bear fruit what took place at the origins of Christian history continues throughout its entire course.
At the beginning of the third millennium, the call which Peter and his brother Andrew, as well as the other first disciples, heard from Jesus continues to resound in the world, "put out into the deep and lower your nets for catch". And after the miracle of a huge catch of fish, the Lord revealed to Peter that he would become "a fisher of men".
2. The term evangelization has a very rich meaning. In the broad sense, it sums up the Church's entire mission: her whole life consists in accomplishing the traditio Evangelii, the proclamation and handing on of the Gospel, which is "the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes" and which, in the final essence, is identified with Jesus Christ himself. Understood in this way, evangelization is aimed at all of humanity. In any case, to evangelize does not mean simply to teach doctrine, but to proclaim Jesus Christ by one's words and actions, that is, to make oneself an instrument of his presence and action in the world...
3. There is today, however, a growing confusion which leads many to leave the missionary command of the Lord unheard and ineffective. Often it is maintained that any attempt to convince others on religious matters is a limitation of their freedom. From this perspective, it would only be legitimate to present one's own ideas and to invite people to act according to their consciences, without aiming at their conversion to Christ and to the Catholic faith. It is enough, so they say, to help people to become more human or more faithful to their own religion; it is enough to build communities which strive for justice, freedom, peace and solidarity. Furthermore, some maintain that Christ should not be proclaimed to those who do not know him, nor should joining the Church be promoted, since ti would also be possible to be saved without explicit knowledge of Christ and without formal incorporation in the Church.
In the face of these problems, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has judged it necessary to publish the present Note.
Saturday, December 15, 2007
Evangelization, Catholic style
~from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, here is The Doctrinal Note on Aspects of Evangelization