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  My Witness

Vol. 1, No. 2, April, 1996

Pope John Paul II and the New Evangelization
by Sr. Angeline Bukowiecki, S.N.C.

Sister Angeline Pope John Paul II first spoke about the new evangelization in Haiti in 1983 when he called the Church to a new evangelization, new in its fervor, expression, and methods. And since that time, he has continued to call the Church to a new evangelization.

What I'd like to do is cite the many, comments the Holy Father has made in his various encyclicals and addresses to different groups, movements and institutions within the Church about evangelization. Let us begin with what he has to say to the Church within the five continents.

North America:

  • "I wish to leave you and the whole Church in America with a vision of the Millennium as a pastoral initiative, a response of faith to the God who 'So loved the world that he gave his only Son' (Jn. 3:16). This vision must be captured by the whole Church . . . and given expression in each diocese, each parish and every community" (Ad Limina Visit of American Bishops, April 16, 1988).


  • The great task of evangelization is never done as long as we are still living on earth. Our primary task as bishops remains that of giving impetus to the mission of proclaiming the Good News. Evangelization . . . requires the active collaboration of the whole People of God: priests, religious and well?trained catechists working in unity with the local bishop" (To the Bishops of Lesotho, September 14, 1988).

South America:

  • "The Lord, the master of history and of our destinies, has wished that my pontificate be that of a pilgrim Pope of evangelization, walking down the roads of the world bringing to all peoples the message of salvation . . . . I directed an appeal to all the churches on this 'Continent of Hope' to undertake a 'New Evangelization"' (Mexico City, May 6, 1990).


  • "The great Jubilee of the beginning of the Third Christian Millennium is at hand. The path of the Church in Europe and in the world must be characterized more and more by the way we proclaim, give witness to and follow Jesus Christ as mankind's only Redeemer" (Plenary Meeting of Italian Bishops Conference, May 11, 1990).


  • "On the eve of the Third Christian Millennium, an even greater commitment to evangelization is imperative . . . . Your meeting is an opportunity to seek new ways of increasing awareness in the local churches of the need for primary evangelization" (Fifth Plenary Meeting of Asian Bishops, July, 1990).

The urgent need for evangelization:

  • "What moves me even more strongly to proclaim the urgency of missionary evangelization is the fact that it is the primary service which the Church can render in the modern world . . . which seems to have lost its sense of ultimate realities and of existence itself" (Redemptoris Missio, #2).

  • "I would ask you to discuss the urgent task of evangelization from the perspective of the bishop as teacher of the faith . . . . You are the pillars upon which rests all the work of evangelization" (To Bishops of the U.S.A., March 8, 1989).

  • "It is an all?embracing task which is becoming ever more urgent. I have many times described it by means of the term "new evangelization" which today's society . . . urgently needs again" (To Scandinavian Bishops, June 1, 1989).

  • "Priests must be filled with special missionary zeal and commitment. The Lord entrusts to them . . . the evangelization of those who do not belong to Christ's flock" (Redemptoris Missio, 67).

  • "The urgency of the new evangelization demands that religious today . . . stay in the very vanguard of preaching" (Centenary Letter to Religious of Latin America, June 29, 1990).

  • "Europe urgently needs a new evangelization. The Church . . . must become missionary once again. Whenever Christians no longer testify to their faith . . . others will come and claim the place vacated by Christians" (Gurk, Austria, June 25, 1988 ).

  • "The Church seeks to draw near to the Third Millennium as towards an intensely demanding deadline for a New Evangelization. The decade just begun . . . (is) a significant milestone in God's incessant pilgrimge through humankind's history" (To Focolare Youth, March 31, 1990).

Continues this topic in his Encyclical Letter "Redemptoris Missio":

  • "God is opening before the Church the horizons of a humanity more fully prepared for the sowing of the Gospel. I sense that the moment has come to commit all of the Church's energies to a new evangelization and to the mission ad gentes" (RM, 3).

  • "Christian hope sustains us in committing ourselves fully to the new evangelization and to the worldwide mission, and leads us to pray as Jesus taught us: 'Thy Kingdom come'" (RM, 86).

  • "As she prepares to celebrate the Jubilee of the year 2000, the whole Church is ever more committed to a new missionary advent" (RM, 86).

The need for practical training and the use of adequate tools:

  • "Evangelization is a work of faith, but it is also an art; as such it requires preparation and the use of adequate tools" (Homily in Beira, Mozambique, Sept. 17, 1988).

  • "In this renewed evangelizing drive it is necessary to continue to promote in people an assiduous contact with the Bible, which should be made ever better known through Schools of the Word" (Christifideles Laici, 61).

  • "A renewed evangelization should take pains to find more adequate ways of unveiling the mysteries of faith to the people. Hence catechesis and other forms of religious instruction given on the Christian faith should be taught" (Ad Limina Visit of Argentinian Bishops, November 23, 1989).

  • "Groups, associations and movements also have their place in he formation of the lay faithful. They have the possibility . . . of offering formation through a deeply shared experience of the apostolic life" (Christifideles Laici, 62)

  • "We must increase our apostolic zeal to pass on to others the light and joy of the faith, and to this high ideal the whole People of God must be educated" (Redemptoris Missio, 86).

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