Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Cardinal Urges Lambeth Participants to Evangelize

Vatican Official Addresses Anglican Communion

CANTERBURY, England, JULY 23, 2008 ( The leader of the Vatican's evangelization congregation addressed Anglicans gathered at the Lambeth conference on the theme of sharing the Gospel in today's world.

Cardinal Ivan Dias, prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, spoke at the conference Tuesday. The once-a-decade conference gathers Anglican leaders from around the world.

This year's meeting, under way through Aug. 4, has been the subject of particular attention because some Anglican leaders boycotted it in protest over the Communion's consideration of issues such as episcopal ordination for women and homosexuals, and same-sex "marriage."

Cardinal Dias' talk skirted any direct mention of these issues. His address was on "Mission, Social Justice and Evangelization."

In one portion of his talk, the Vatican official considered the current context and challenges of evangelization.

"The spiritual combat, described in the Books of Genesis and Revelation, has continued unabated all down the ages," he said. "This combat rages fiercely even today, aided and abetted by well-known secret sects, Satanic groups and New Age movements, to mention but a few, and reveals many ugly heads of the hideous anti-God monster: Among them are notoriously secularism, which seeks to build a Godless society; spiritual indifference, which is insensitive to transcendental values; and relativism, which is contrary to the permanent tenets of the Gospel."

"All of these," the cardinal affirmed, "seek to efface any reference to God or to things supernatural, and to supplant it with mundane values and behavior patterns which purposely ignore the transcendental and the divine. Far from satisfying the deep yearnings of the human heart, they foster a culture of death, be it physical or moral, spiritual or psychological."

Cardinal Dias said two institutions in particular are vulnerable to the culture of death: family and youth.

New horizons

The prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples suggested that there are many areas calling for evangelization: "Among these are notably the mass media, the world of science and technology, of politics and social communications, of refugees and migrants, and others.

"Then there is the vast gamut of non-Christian religions and cultures, with their varied scriptures and sages, prayers and symbols, places of worship and ascetical practices, each exerting a deep influence on the thoughts and lifestyles of its followers.

"This mosaic of religious and cultural 'isms' is now complicated by a deep questioning about man's identity and purpose in life, rising from the human and social, as well as the physical sciences.

"While this soul-searching questioning about human life and purpose could be an appropriate context for the proclamation of the Gospel, many answers being proposed in our post-modern world have become disconnected from authoritative sources of moral reasoning, ignoring the transcendental dimension of life and seeking to make God irrelevant."

"In the Western world," Cardinal Dias contended, "which is increasingly becoming distanced from its Christian traditions and roots, a context of moral confusion has ensued, and sound Christian ethical and moral principles and values are under threat from various quarters."

Faced with this situation, the cardinal urged his listeners to be "pro-active, and not merely reactive, in reading the signs of the times and projecting our missionary thrust, firmly convinced that he who holds the destinies of humankind in his hands has promised to be with his disciples till the end of time."

"And hence," he affirmed, "as a Chinese proverb goes: 'Instead of cursing the darkness, let us light a candle.'"

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