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Saint with halo

What's Changed?

The Church has evangelised from its earliest days:

'When they heard this they…said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brethren, what shall we do?” And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptised….” So those who received his word were baptised, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.'(Acts 2:37-41)

Later whole societies became Christian:

In Kent around 600 AD, St. Augustine of Canterbury and his companions “…were constantly at prayer; they fasted and kept vigils; they preached the word of life to whomsoever they could… They practised what they preached, and were willing to endure any hardship…. At length the king and others, edified by the pure lives of these holy men and their gracious promises, the truth of which they confirmed by many miracles, believed and were baptised. Thence forward great numbers gathered each day to hear the word of God, forsaking their heathen rites, and entering the unity of Christ’s holy church as believers.”
(St Bede, A History of the English Church and People).

St Francis Xavier is an example of an outstanding evangelist of former times:

Indian School Children“Since I came here [India] I have had no rest. I have been going from village to village and every child not yet baptised I have baptised… But the children would not let me say my office or eat or rest till I had taught them some prayer. It was then that I really began to feel that of such is the kingdom of heaven.”

But evangelisation had its dark sides, too, going hand in hand with colonialism:

“Another painful chapter of history to which the sons and daughters of the Church must return with a spirit of repentance is that of the acquiescence given, especially in certain centuries, to intolerance and even the use of violence in the service of truth.”
(Pope John Paul II, Tertio Millennio Adveniente, 35).

And just doing the same old things is no longer adequate:

A member of the Mission Team, St. Patrick's, Soho, London, during a Christmas outreach day.
A member of the Mission Team, St. Patrick's, Soho, London, during a Christmas outreach day.

“The Church always evangelises and has never interrupted the path of evangelisation. She celebrates the eucharistic mystery every day, administers the sacraments, proclaims the word of life -- the Word of God, and commits herself to the causes of justice and charity. And this evangelisation bears fruit….However, we can see a progressive process of de-Christianisation and a loss of the essential human values, which is worrisome. A large part of today's humanity does not find the Gospel in the permanent evangelisation of the Church: That is to say, the convincing response to the question: How to live?”
(Cardinal Ratzinger, Address to Catechists, Jubilee Year, Rome).

That is why we need a new evangelisation.