In the last post, I said that comments offered on this blog inspire new posts. Case in point:
My intent in the “new evangelization” post ( That’s what I’m talkin’ about ) wasn’t so much to indict the Holy Father; rather, it was simply to say that he gave us some insight into the mindset of every “new evangelist,” including all of the popes who have occupied the Chair of St. Peter over the last 50 years.
That said, even at this point in the Holy Father’s still nascent pontificate, it seems rather obvious that his evangelical approach to the world, objectively speaking as to its content, is going to be much more like that of John XXIII and his successors than that of any of the pre-conciliar popes.
If we’re honest, we have to admit that the pre-conciliar and post-conciliar approaches to the mission of the Church are nearly as different as day and night. (I am purposely leaving intentions aside since that falls into the realm of the subjective over which none of us can speak with any real authority.)
While the Holy Father would never deny the life-giving nature of the Church, the witness of the last four months indicates precisely what I am suggesting; Pope Francis, like the last five popes that preceded him, hasn’t, and likely won’t, go about evangelizing in a manner that either the Apostles, or any of the pre-conciliar popes, would even recognize as having a hand in the Church’s evangelical mission.
In fact, harsh though it may sound, some of the things these popes have said and done, presumably in the name of the “new evangelization,” including Pope Francis, would have scandalized both the pre-conciliar popes and their respective flocks, and likely invited harsh condemnations.
Examples abound, but since we’re discussing Pope Francis in particular, here are a few that indicate very strongly that his idea of the evangelizing mission of the Church is entirely of the “new” variety; the kind that never really gets around to calling anyone to emerge from their lives of darkness and error into the full light of truth such as it exists in the Catholic Church alone:
– One day after his elevation, while receiving some 6,000 journalists and their families at the Vatican, the pope deliberately chose to refrain from invoking the Blessed Trinity and making the sign of the Cross in an act of blessing as one might reasonably expect the Vicar of Christ to do, in his words, out of respect for the consciences of those non-Christians who were present.
– Upon welcoming the so-called “archbishop” of Canterbury to the Vatican, the pope said he did so “not as a guest or a stranger, but as a fellow citizen of the Saints and the Family of God,” and invited the Anglican to “travel the path towards unity” with him, wherein they might find the “raison d’être of our journey.”
– During his first Apostolic visit (to Lampadusa) the Holy Father greeted Muslims, wishing them well at the start of Ramadan – an observance, according to the Qur’an, that is intended to “magnify” the false god, Allah, of the false prophet, Muhammad – telling them that he has trusts that it will “bear abundant spiritual fruit.”
Each of these three episodes reflect, not just Pope Francis’ chosen approach to the Church’s mission, but the nature of the new evangelization itself. In the process, we discover that the mission has largely been reduced by the “new evangelists” to an exercise in religious diplomacy, a cordial exchange that comforts the practitioners of the false religions with niceties and platitudes that serve only to confirm them in their error.
I cannot say for certain how the practitioners of this “new evangelization” might attempt to justify such a thing as a fitting expression of the Church’s mission. I suspect, however, that they would claim recourse, even if only subconsciously, to the approach inaugurated by John XXIII, and institutionalized at Vatican II, wherein the Church no longer condemns the errors of the heathens and heretics as a means of helping them to see the light of truth; rather, we attempt to “kill them with kindness” in the unrealistic hope that having been wooed by our niceness they will one day feel compelled to consider giving our doctrines a closer look, and might even, God willing, join the team.
What I can say with relative certainty is that beyond the unrealistic hope of inviting conversion in this way, those non-Catholics who were exposed to the Holy Father’s words and deeds in the three examples provided, did not come away with any sense for the fact that God has so much more to give them than their present condition allows, and that the fullness of these gifts, the very means of salvation, are to be found in the Holy Roman Catholic Church alone.
On the contrary, one can safely say that apart from God’s grace preempting the invitation to religious indifferentism inherent in these episodes, each one came away confirmed in whatever false religion they happen to currently practice.
Proclaiming the same unchanging Gospel with new expressions, new methods and new fervor has ever been the evangelizing mission of the Church; i.e, that’s nothing new. In fact, we can say that St. Paul set that tone in speaking of being all things to all people, and yet, he never hesitated to make the call to conversion explicit, even to the point of inviting martyrdom, nor did he ever fail to condemn the utter inadequacy of those religions that cannot save.
The popes of tradition (until the time of John XXIII) evangelized in like manner.
Would any of them recognize the “new evangelization” of the last 50 years as the same unchanging Gospel adapted to our times, or would they join me in saying that the “new evangelists” have so adapted the Gospel to the times as to change the message?
It’s the “new evangelization” even evangelization? With the quotes you provided, I’m not so sure.
*Is the new . . . (sorry about the above typo).
Mr. Verrecchio state his answer to that question cleary in this video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kc42JQF3wg8
If the point of the ‘new evangelization’ is actually to save souls by bringing them into the salvific life of Christ’s Church, then I must say that I find it a monumental failure. Before I continue, let me state that I am not yet a Catholic, and I hope that my commenting here is not, on that account, found to be objectionable. I have for several years grown ever more interested in and absorbed with the faith, and for about a year have hovered on the threshold of conversion. Let me also add that while I have not read everything on this site, I have followed the blog itself since I saw Mr. Verrecchio interviewed by Michael Voris (whose ChurchMilitant.tv content I have regularly watched for some time), and it is very excellent indeed. This said, let me continue.
It is not the new, open, sentimentalist church of the conciliar counterfaith (and such a thing there is, no matter the intentions of those who promote it), but rather the Tradition, majesty, the perennial wisdom and teaching of the authentic Catholic faith that have so captivated me. To read one encyclical of Pius XII or Pope St. Pius X, to read even one sermon of St. Augustine, to say nothing of the Confessions or his other works or the treatises of all the other Doctors and holy saints, to stand in one basilica, or to watch one mass in the usus antiquior–these things do more than all that the vaunted ‘new evangelization’ has or ever could. If I come into the Church it will not be thanks to this ‘new evangelization’ or the blessed aggiornamento or anything else that the Church, after the Council, has done in its increasingly absurd and appalling effort to conform to the spirit of the age, but in spite of all those things. And as for the ‘new evangelization’ itself, I think that it has done nothing (and will do nothing) to promote conversion to the authentic faith—that faith always and everywhere taught by the Church from the apostolic age on, enshrined in Tradition and defended with zeal and the blood of martyrs until quite recently—because it does not convey that faith.
The post-Conciliar pontiffs and bishops have witnessed, despite the breathless optimism of the Council documents, an appalling and almost inconceivable advance in godlessness and depravity these past decades, and not only that, but a collapse of the Church in the west so calamitous as to be without precedent in Her history—this again in spite of ecstatic proclamations of a new Pentecost. At least some of them have understood that a disaster is unfolding, but they have failed utterly to see the causes of it, and applied more of the very poison responsible (even if in conjunction with other causes) in the first instance. This, to my mind, is how we have this ‘new evangelization’. Evangelization is needed more desperately than ever, but they have merely put forward a new effort to win people to so anemic a version of the faith that it cannot but fail to inspire ardor, or zeal, or conversion in any sense. The ‘new evangelization’ is inchoate because the message it tries to convey is inchoate, and if one tries more precisely to formulate its claims, they are seen for the insipid and sentimentalist twaddle that they are. No one is going to be converted to the authentic Catholic faith by hearing about how Jesus is your friend and life will be rosy and happy if you’re a Catholic and how you musn’t be judgmental or a sourpuss, or by listening to platitudinous babble about how god is love and hope, or by any of the never ending personalistic and emotionalistic rhetoric so favored for the past decades. Nor will souls be saved by writing inscrutable doublespeak about ‘being Church’ (as in the Lineamenta put to the Synod of Bishops on this matter), nor, indeed, by most of what is written in the Instrumentum Laboris of the same Synod. By means of such efforts, I own that people might be won to a faith, but it will not be recognizable as that which is truly Catholic. In brief, the ‘new evangelization’ is aptly named, for whether by design or by error (it matters little to the result) it is a new evangelization for a new gospel, a new faith.
The world can never be converted if one seeks—as the Church has done for decades—to meet it on its own terms, any more than a battle can be won when one has ceded not merely the terrain but even the initiative to the enemy; it is a strategy so insane, so bound for failure, that one wonders intelligent men could ever advance it. The Church must be against the spirit of the world, for the spirit of the world is very much against it, and has been from the moment of the Incarnation. Genuine evangelization will only be possible when the Church again realizes this.
My post has been strident, but it has been so because I am keenly aware—as a potential convert—that perhaps my very soul is in jeopardy, and thus these issues (and a host of others often addressed on this blog) are a matter of the most basic personal concern to me. It is also perhaps not the most nuanced response, and I am sure that there is much more to be said on this matter, but I have been thinking this for some time now, and these recent posts on the ‘new evangelization’ seemed like a chance to get it out.
I didn’t realize that my post would format into one giant block of text! Sorry about that.
thank you for your comment, I’m also a convert and absolutely agree with you in regards to the beauty of the “Old” Faith. Please don’t let this whole crisis in the Church, which has no parallel in history, keep you from converting. My parents are also converts and we have never regreted this step. If it was a thousand times harder, with the grace of God, I hope I would do it again.
May Our Lord and the Most Blessed Virgin guide and protect you on your journey.
To someone who seek Our Lord and his One Holy Church, here can not be any objectionable for comment, regardle how long:).
May Our Lord guid you to Truth that you shall be set free.
It would seem that the post conciliar churchmen are having trouble properly understanding the following de fide dogma:
“The most Holy Roman Church firmly believes, professes and preaches that none of those existing outside the Catholic Church, not only pagans, but also Jews and heretics and schismatics, can have a share in life eternal; but that they will go into the eternal fire which was prepared for the devil and his angels, unless before death they are joined with Her; and that so important is the unity of this ecclesiastical body that only those remaining within this unity can profit by the sacraments of the Church unto salvation, and they alone can receive an eternal recompense for their fasts, their almsgivings, their other works of Christian piety and the duties of a Christian soldier. No one, let his almsgiving be as great as it may, no one, even if he pour out his blood for the Name of Christ, can be saved, unless he remain within the bosom and the unity of the Catholic Church.” (Pope Eugene IV, the Bull Cantate Domino, 1441.)
The fact that it is impossible to imagine a post conciliar Pope speaking in this way is an indication of how bad the current situation within the church really is – this is why the following remark by John Senior’s is right on the money: “The crisis is over; we have lost. This is no longer just a prediction, it is a simple observation: Rome has been desecrated. We are in the age of darkness. Triumphalist reactions are in vain. The modern world and the Church deserve the punishment that God is raining down on us.”
Would that Pope Francis in union with the bishops of the world would consecrate Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary and end this curse.
Love your website – keep up the good fight.
Konstantin and Ziemek, thank you for your encouragement.
From a wonderful book called “Where the Eyes of the Great are Elsewhere” by William Biersach,
“Many were the Saints who looked forward to this age and yearned to take part in the conflict we face. Instead of feeling sorry for ourselves, rather than crying over the spilled milk of post-conciliar apostasy, instead of wringing our hands in despondent dismay, we should rejoice in the honor that God has bestowed upon us—us!—to defend the Faith, to stand up to the enemies of the Church, and to endure whatever comes.”
Bleh…”While the Eyes of the Great are Elsewhere”
Lynne, thank you for that quote. It was a great contrast to the quote from John Senior above. I need to remind myself not to despair for my children, but find joy in the hope that they will be saints.
John, it’s time to cross the Tiber and join the good fight against modernism from inside the church! You seem to have an excellent grasp of the problems we face.
Here is a question for you, Mr. Verrechio. I hope the question will prompt a post from you one day.
We are called to evangelize, and that evangelization means a call to convert to the Catholic Church on the grounds that the Catholic Church alone is the path to salvation. Fair enough. Now, how do we employ this message, which is the message of the Church from its beginning, to our heretical and pagan friends in light of the counter-productive “new evangelists?” For instance, if I tell my heretical Protestant friend or family measure that the Roman Catholic Church is the only path to salvation, he then says to me that according to the Catholics that he’s heard on the radio or seen on TV (so-called conservatives), he is just a “separated brethren” and does not have to actually become Roman Catholic.
Now, one is faced with two problems: converting the heretic and then having to guide him through the chaos of the Church itself, which you just told him was the only means of salvation. What do we employ here as a good safeguard to protect the prospective convert from the self-destructing “new evangelists?”
I´m a convert to the faith, too. For me it is obvious that you already have recognized that the catholic church is the only true one, the only bride of Christ. Staying out of the church after this recognition would put your eternal salvation at risk. That has always been the teaching of the “good old” church.
The church needs fighters – real man -more than ever. Come in and join the church militant, I´m sure if you trust only in God and the most blessed Virgin Mary, you will never regret it. These are good times to become a saint, don´t you think?
And read my beloved St. Alphonus who always helped me in these terrible times and who will explain to you together with St. Paul why there must be heresies. (on page 8) In my opinion the so called “new evangelisation” or “the new Pentecost” are modern names for old heresies.
other books by St. Alphonsus M Liguori
Andrew´s question is also mine.
Because of those “counter-productive new evangelists” I twice decided to stop blogging. I started again because I didn´t want to leave the field to them and because only God can give the fruits but I have to do my part.
The whole concept of evangelization, to me, is the same as it always has been since the apostles spread the news to the four corners of the earth. I have read quotes from the past popes that lead me to believe that they believed, to one degree or another, that the new evagelization was really meant more for those within the Church who no longer believe it’s teachings. In other words, just a re-evagelization of eternal truths. This is not so bad, it’s just that the term is vague, like so much of Vatican II, and has been hijacked by the modernists and those who preach a lukewarm gospel.
CatholicMom, I found that book so exciting! I usually read at bedtime and that book made it difficult to sleep at night!