VATICAN CITY – Secularism has had an easy time spreading through many traditionally Christian cultures because so many Christians do not know their faith and do not grasp the truth it teaches, said Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York.
Because Jesus is the truth, Catholics must make a commitment "to combat catechetical illiteracy," Dolan said in a Feb. 17 talk to the College of Cardinals.
"True enough, the new evangelization is urgent because secularism has often choked the seed of faith, but that choking was sadly made easy because so many believers really had no adequate knowledge or grasp of the wisdom, beauty and coherence of the truth," he said.
The New York prelate was asked to give the main address on evangelization and missionary activity at a meeting of the pope with the cardinals and cardinals-designate, who were to be inducted into the College of Cardinals Feb. 18.
Dolan said Catholics must be convinced that what they are sharing with others is not a doctrine, but the person of Jesus.
Humility, joy and love are key to the success of the evangelization efforts of the Church and its members, he said.
Dolan said when he was a seminarian, he was told to smile because a missionary or evangelist had to be a person of joy.
"When I become the archbishop of New York, a priest told me, 'You better stop smiling when you walk the streets of Manhattan or you'll be arrested.'"