4 European Cardinals Launch Evangelization Congresses

Aim to Counter an "Accelerated Paganism"

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PARIS, MAY 25, 2003 (Zenit.org).- Four cardinals have launched an unprecedented series of international congresses aimed at the evangelization of European cities.



The first congress began Friday in Vienna, Austria, and will run until June 1. Others are planned for Paris (Oct. 23-Nov. 1, 2004), Lisbon, Portugal (in 2005), and Brussels, Belgium (in 2006).

The cardinals behind the initiative are Archbishop Godfried Danneels of Malines-Brussels, Archbishop Jean-Marie Lustiger of Paris, Archbishop Christoph Schönborn of Vienna, and Patriarch José da Cruz Policarpo of Lisbon.

A statement published by the four says: "Each of these great metropolises has its history and characteristics. However, our ministry shows us the impressive similarities of their spiritual tradition. Urban life seems to favor an accelerated 'paganism.' At the same time, Christianity, source of our culture, is faced with an ever more intense religious demand."

The statement continues: "Recent and varied mission experiences, carried out in some large cities of Europe, show to what degree the quest for meaning and for God are expressed today with every greater freedom and exigency. Our time calls for the proclamation of the Gospel."

Each of the congresses will have its own identity and develop according to a specific program, in keeping with the characteristics of the local Church.

At the Vienna congress, forums of theological and pastoral reflection are held on how to help families, youth and the poor, how to evangelize in large cities, and how to have an impact in politics, art and culture.

Led by Cardinal Lustiger, a group of 200 Parisians are participating in the Vienna meeting and already planning a similar event next year in their city.