Here is the translation of the prepared text of the Pope's address to the members of the 13th Ordinary Council of the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops, gathered in assembly to reflect on the topic: “The New Evangelization for the Transmission of the Faith.” Pope Francis decided to forego his prepared comments and addressed the members informally.
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Dear Brothers in the Episcopate,
I greet you very cordially, and I thank in particular Archbishop Nikola Eterovic, Secretary General, for the words he addressed to me. I extend, through you, my greeting to the particular Churches that are entrusted to your pastoral care. I am grateful for the help offered to the Bishop of Rome, in his office of President of the Synod of Bishops, for the elaboration and implementation of all that emerged in the 13th Ordinary General Assembly. It is a precious service to the universal Church that requires availability, commitment and sacrifice, also to face long trips. A sincere thank you to each one of you!
I would like to stress the importance of the Assembly: The New Evangelization for the Transmission of the Faith. There is a close connection between these two elements: the transmission of the Christian faith is the object of the New Evangelization and of the whole evangelizing endeavor of the Church, which exists in fact for this. The expression “New Evangelization,” then, brings to light the ever clearer awareness that even in the countries of ancient Christian tradition a renewed proclamation of the Gospel is necessary, to lead back to an encounter with Christ that really transforms life and is not superficial, marked by routine. And this has consequences in pastoral action. As the Servant of God Paul VI observed, “the conditions of society oblige us to look again at the methods, to seek with every means of study how to take to modern man the Christian message, in which he can only find the answer to his questions and the strength for his endeavor of human solidarity” (Address to the Sacred College of Cardinals, June 22, 1973). In Evangelii nuntiandi, a very rich text that has lost none of its importance, the same Pontiff recalled how the commitment to proclaim the Gospel “is without a doubt a service rendered not only to the Christian community, but also to humanity” (n. 1). I would like to encourage the entire ecclesial community to be evangelizing, not to fear to “go out” of itself to proclaim, trusting above all in the merciful presence of God who guides us. The techniques are certainly important, but not even the most perfect can substitute the discreet but effective action of Him who is the principal agent of evangelization: the Holy Spirit (cf. Ibid., 75). We must allow ourselves to be led by Him, even if He leads us to new ways; we must allow ourselves to be transformed by Him so that our proclamation will take place with the word accompanied always by simplicity of life, the spirit of prayer, of charity to all, especially the little ones and the poor, of humility and of self-detachment, of holiness of life (cf. Ibid., 76). Only thus will it be truly fruitful!
A thought, also, on the Synod of Bishops. It was certainly one of the fruits of Vatican Council II. Thanks be to God, in these almost fifty years, we have experienced the benefits of this institution that, in a permanent way, is placed at the service of the mission and of the communion of the Church, as expression of collegiality. I can attest to it also on the basis of my personal experience, having taken part in several Synodal Assemblies. Open to the grace of the Holy Spirit, soul of the Church, let us be confident that the Synod of Bishops will experience further developments to foster increasing dialogue and collaboration between the Bishops and between them and the Bishop of Rome. Dear fellow Bishops, your meeting over these days in Rome has the object of helping me in the choice of the topic for the next Ordinary General Assembly. I am grateful for the proposals sent by the institutions with which the General Secretariat of the Synod is in correspondence: the Synods of the Catholic Eastern Churches sui iuris, the Episcopal Conferences, the Dicasteries of the Roman Curia, and the Presidency of the Union of Superiors General. I am certain that with discernment, accompanied by prayer, this work will bear abundant fruit for the whole Church that, faithful to the Lord, desires to proclaim Jesus Christ, with renewed courage, to the men and women of our time. He is “the Way, the Truth and the Life” (John 14:6) for each and for all.
Entrusting your ecclesial service to the maternal intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Star of the New Evangelization, I impart from my heart to you, to your collaborators and to your particular Churches the Apostolic Blessing.
[Translation by ZENIT]