Archbishop Nikola Eterovic
VATICAN CITY – A Church structure that is more bureaucracy than service is an impediment to the Church's ability to proclaim faith in Jesus, said the working document for the next world Synod of Bishops.
The document also took issue with Catholics who act as though their faith has nothing to do with daily life.
"Every one of the Church's actions has an essential evangelizing character and must never be separated from the duty to help others encounter Christ in faith," said the document that will guide the synod.
Pope Benedict chose as the synod's theme: The New Evangelization for the Transmission of the Christian Faith. It will be held Oct. 7-28 at the Vatican.
The document, released June 19, said, "many lament the excessive bureaucratic character" of Church structures, which are "perceived as being far removed from the average person and his everyday concerns."
The new evangelization, it said, will "involve the courage to denounce the infidelities and scandals" within the Church and "to acknowledge faults while continuing to witness to Jesus Christ."
The working document said the bishops and other synod participants will focus on:
The synod's working document is based on responses to a long outline and questionnaire which came from 114 bishops' conferences, 26 Vatican offices and the international unions of superior generals of men's and women's religious orders.
"Some responses," the document said, "complained of the excessively formal character of liturgical celebrations, an almost routine celebration of rituals and the lack of a deep spiritual experience, which turn people away instead of attracting them."
At a news conference June 19, Archbishop Nikola Eterovic, secretary-general of the synod, said the synod will attempt to respond to "the need for new instruments and new expressions to make the word of God understandable in the lives of contemporary man."
According to the document, Pope Benedict called the synod to respond to a situation where, "because of a lack of faith, various particular churches are witnessing a decline in sacramental and Christian practice among the faithful to the point that some members can even be called 'nonbelievers.'"
During the synod, the Church also will mark the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council and the launch of the Year of Faith.
Pope Benedict called the Year of Faith to energize Catholics and Catholic communities and promote a deeper knowledge of the essential tenets of faith.
In evaluating signs that call for a renewed evangelization of the baptized, the working document cited: "a weakening of faith in Christian communities, a diminished regard for the authority of the magisterium, an individualistic approach to belonging to the Church, a decline in religious practice and a disengagement in transmitting the faith to new generations."
The document said cultural changes, especially secularization - accelerated and spread by globalization and greater global access to media - are creating a situation in which many people see faith as unimportant, old fashioned or simply irrelevant to modern life.
As well, it said, more and more people show signs of despair, selfishness, loneliness and a lack of purpose in life.
Faith in Jesus Christ brings the joy, enthusiasm, hope and love people need to live better lives, it said.
The document said a major challenge to the new evangelization is the growing idea that faith is opposed to freedom and that the Church's claims to know what is true is suspect or even dangerous.
While many Catholics who question the Church's claims of truth may continue to do good works, without the strength of faith and the support of the Christian community, it said, their good works are bound to weaken over time and their activity will lose its power to bring others to Christ.