Monday, 22 October 2012

The Intervention of Bishop Emmanuel Adetoyese Badejo at The Synod of Bishops on the New Evangelization for the Transmission of the Faith

"Membership, Places and Means In the Transmission of the Christian Faith," Intervention at the Synod of Bishops on The New Evangelization for the Transmission of the Christian Faith by Emmanuel Adetoyese Badejo Bishop of Oyo, Nigeria.

Chapter 3 of the Instrumentum Laboris on Transmission of the Faith reflects on the Membership, Places and Means of transmission in the New Evangelization. I address mainly nos 92-95. I have three points:
1.The Church in Nigeria like other countries in the last decades has lost members, to the new age  and so-called pentecostal churches, although she continues to win others. Catholics have the powerful, efficacious sacraments but we struggle with the fact that their celebration mostly touch and attract those who already have some mature faith. We need to explore the possibility of turning the celebration of the sacraments themselves into efficacious moments of faith impact which can attract non-christians to catechesis and commitment. This can be done if we continually update homiletics and sacramental procedure with engaging art, language, idioms and imagery which can better communicate their power and meaning.

This is a challenge generally for liturgy which is, divine worship and love in action (I.L.98) and is the place of encounter between the human person, unsophisticated and weary as he may be, and the refreshing immensity of divine Providence. Even modern man, invaded by modern communications and technology has a rather short attention span for spiritual things. The engaging power of solemn but exuberant, multimedia liturgy can focus his restive faculties on the work of the Holy Spirit to stabilize him against consumerism, corruption, materialism and relativism to become a witness to the Gospel (I.L 119, 123). New evangelization could exploit this model which Africa counts on so much in its liturgy.
2. For comprehensive transmission of the faith we need to return to the original arena of evangelization which Jesus left us. For so long we have called on the world to come to Church. The world of today calls the Church to come to it, right there where people are found, especially in those places where churches are emptying. Or is it the Holy Spirit calling us out of the "catacombs of fear and self-consciousness"  to share Jesus more with others? The "original spaces of social media" namely the playgrounds, the streets, town squares, market places, nightclubs, shopping malls, even pubs and the slums, thirst to be "Church" in some form. If we do not go there as Bishops. we obviously need to train and motivate individuals and group evangelizers who will go according to the characteristics of these arenas. If we do, we may not get the high table treatment but just a word or gesture from us could unveil the face of Jesus as a first encounter for someone. Here is where the call for a new evangelization with new zeal, means and methods can be really meaningful in my view.
3.The world of Media have great power in mobilizing and committing people to ideas and creeds all over the world. In the hands of Christian experts they can help the Church tremendously. I would like this Synod to strongly reaffirm the role and responsibility of  Catholic Media professionals and practitioners in the New Evangelization and the need to pay particular attention to their spiritual development. Millions of youth all over the world are sharing the same stories, experiences and challenges, irrespective of their location, thanks to the new social, personal and digital media. The Church must humbly seek their confidence and trust knowing that youth prefer a co-communicator relationship to the old teacher̩̩-learner, speaker̩̩̩̩̩̩̩̩̩̩̩-listener model. When they feel like allies with the Church they can with the right format and language bring their Christian faith and values to the new social forums. With other "natives" of the new social media they face little or no resistance. The gathering of Bishops Chairmen of Social Communications organized by the Pontifical Council for Social Communications in 2009 came to a similar conclusion. This strategy agrees with the status recently granted by the Holy Father to lay people  as "co-responsible" stakeholders in the work and mission of the Church.
4.All agents of the good news must be equipped with adequate content, from Scripture, the Catechism and the Church’s teaching on Social Issues. It is near impossible to conceive a New Evangelization today without forming the agents in Ecumenical relations and dialogue with Islam especially in Africa where Bishops, Priests, Religious and Catholics come from Muslim families. The truth is that our lay people are daily involved in verbal and non-verbal dialogue at various levels with other religions with commendable success and we can learn from them. This might remind us of the opinion that it is indeed easier to dialogue with Muslims than with Islam.

''The truth might be hard to say, painful to bear or even drastic for the truth sayer but still needed to be said''. ALISON.

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