CNS PHOTO | PAUL HARING
Pope Benedict holds the Book of the Gospels during the closing Mass of the Synod of Bishops.
VATICAN CITY – Winning converts to the Church, ministering better to practising Catholics and bringing lapsed members back into the fold are all parts of "new evangelization," Pope Benedict said.
The pope made his remarks Oct. 28 during his homily at a Mass marking the end of the three-week world Synod of Bishops on the new evangelization.
The synod, which brought together more than 260 bishops and religious superiors, focused on the need to revive and spread the faith in increasingly secular societies.
Pope Benedict underlined "three pastoral themes" that had emerged from the talks.
"Ordinary pastoral ministry . . . must be more animated by the fire of the Spirit, so as to inflame the hearts of the faithful," he said.
The pope emphasized the importance of the sacrament of Confession, and the necessity of good preparation for the reception of the other sacraments.
CNS PHOTO | PAUL HARING
Pope Benedict celebrates the closing Mass of the Synod of Bishops on the New Evangelization in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican Oct. 28.
Second, he called for a "new missionary dynamism" to "proclaim the message of salvation to those who do not yet know Jesus Christ."
"There are still many regions in Africa, Asia and Oceania whose inhabitants await with lively expectation, sometimes without being fully aware of it, the first proclamation of the Gospel," he said.
And as a result of migration driven by globalization, he added, the "first proclamation is needed even in countries that were evangelized long ago."
Finally, the pope spoke of the need to persuade lapsed Catholics, "especially in the most secular countries," to "encounter Jesus Christ anew."
In that way, they can "rediscover the joy of faith and return to religious practice in the community of the faithful."
This effort, in particular, calls for "pastoral creativity" and use of a "new language attuned to the different world cultures," he said.
Referring to the day's reading from the Gospel of St. Mark, the pope invoked Bartimaeus – the blind man who miraculously received his sight back from Jesus and then joined him as one of the disciples – as a model for Christians in countries "where the light of faith has grown dim."
"New evangelizers are like that," Pope Benedict said, "people who have had the experience of being healed by God, through Jesus Christ."