Cardinal Wuerl: 'Tsunami of Secularism' Has Swept the Cultural Landscape

Archbishop of Washington, D.C. Discusses Hopes and Challenges of the New Evangelization

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By Junno Arocho

VATICAN CITY, OCT. 8, 2012 (Zenit.org).- Addressing the thirteenth General Assembly of Synod of Bishops in his role as Relator General, Cardinal Donald Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington, D.C., touched upon several points for today's discussion on the theme of the New Evangelization for the Transmission of the Faith.

Of the major points of discussion, Cardinal Wuerl emphasized the importance of a clear definition of whom and what is proclaimed. "Our proclamation is focused on Jesus, his Gospel and his way. Christian life is defined by an encounter with Jesus," Cardinal Wuerl said to the bishops.

"When Jesus first came among us, he offered a whole new way of living. The excitement spread as God's Son, who is also one of us, announced the coming of the kingdom. The invitation to discipleship and a place in the kingdom that he held out to those who heard him, he continues to offer today."

Citing the challenges faced in announcing the Gospel, the American prelate stated that the worlds "dramatically changing societal background" calls for the Church to "re-propose the Catholic faith, to re-propose the Gospel message, to re-propose the teaching of Christ." The cardinal stated that this is needed due in part to the fact that the message and saving proclamation of the Gospel for many has become stale.

"This current situation is rooted in the upheavals of the 1970s and 80s, decades in which there was manifest poor catechesis or miscatechesis at so many levels of education. We faced the hermeneutic of discontinuity that permeated so much of the milieu of centers of higher education and was also reflected in aberrational liturgical practice," he said.

"Entire generations have become disassociated from the support systems that facilitated the transmission of faith."

'Tsunami' of Secularism

During a press conference at the Holy See Press Office, Cardinal Wuerl expanded on his address at the Synod where he attributed the current crisis of faith to a "tsunami of secular influence that has swept across the cultural landscape." Speaking on his experience as Archbishop of Washington, D.C., the cardinal stated that traditional elements, such as family, marriage and the natural moral order have been greatly diminished due to the influence of secularism.

"I used in my presentation the image of the tsunami. It's as if a tsunami of secularism has washed across the Western world. And as it become more and more evident, it was clear that it took with it all of those structures that are reflective of Western culture, of our Christian understanding of life," Cardinal Wuerl told the journalists gathered.

"The respect and understanding of marriage, the respect and understanding of family, the respect and understanding that there is such a thing as a natural moral order, the understanding that there is an objective right and wrong […] all of that has been weakened. "

The Archbishop of Washington, D.C. said that the New Evangelization is calling the faithful to appreciate the truth of the Gospel and what that means to the world. Cardinal Wuerl also highlighted that there is a new generation of young people "who are looking for answers that are found in the Gospel, answers that are found in Christ's message."

Role of Ecclesial Movements and New Communities

Cardinal Wuerl spoke of the important role that ecclesial movements and new communities play in the New Evangelization, "saying that they bring such a blessing to the Church today."

"These expressions of the movement of the Holy Spirit add to the spiritual wealth of the long present charisms of the religious orders and congregations that work so faithfully to bear witness to the coming of the kingdom through their commitment to living the evangelical counsels of perfection."

Citing several movements such as, Communion and Liberation, Opus Dei, and the Neocatechumenal Way, Cardinal Wuerl stated that they are signs of the work of the Holy Spirit.

Expanding on his address, the cardinal said that "the Church is finding new energy, a new outpouring of the Spirit manifested in a variety of ways."

"The movements are reflective of the power of Spirit in engaging people to bring other people back," Cardinal Wuerl said.

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On ZENIT's Web page:

For the full text of Cardinal Wuerl's Report to the Synod, go to 

http://www.zenit.org/article-35675?l=english