VATICAN CITY, (Catholic Online) - In June of 2010 Pope Benedict XVI officially announced the establishment of a new Pontifical Council for the New Evangelization. The term "New Evangelization" is a favorite phrase of Pope Benedict XVI - as it was of his predecessor, Blessed John Paul II.  There is a desperate need for such a new evangelization in the secularized Western world.

Many Catholics do not know what the Catholic Church actually teaches. Some have embraced what is often called a "cafeteria Catholicism"- choosing what parts of the faith they will follow. Others profess the Creed but confine its influence only to participation in the Liturgy on Sunday. This leads to what was warned of by the fathers of the Second Vatican Council as the "greatest error of our age, the separation between faith and life."

The result of the rejection of the existence of objective truth has given birth to what was referred to by Pope Benedict XVI in his first homily as a "Dictatorship of Relativism".  The contemporary culture has thrown off almost every remnant of Christian influence. It has embraced a "new" paganism; which is just the old paganism dressed up in the sophistry of an age that purports to be "enlightened" when it is desperately lost.

The embrace of license over liberty, death over life and the abuse of the goods of the earth over responsible stewardship, are all fueled by a counterfeit notion of freedom as a raw power over others and the delusion that "freedom" implies some feigned "right" to choose even what is wrong.

The United States (which consistently polls as one of the most "religious" of the Nations of the West) demonstrates little evidence of the influence of the Christian faith in its daily life.  The principles derived from any past influence of that faith are no longer respected in its increasingly coarsened culture of death and materialism.

On Saturday, May 14, 2011 the Pope spoke to the directors of the Pontifical Mission Societies. He called them to infuse all of their activity with a vibrant new missionary spirit. He reminded them that our age is marked by new forms of slavery and injustice and that the mandate and mission of the Church is to evangelize - even in the face of persecution. He proclaimed, "All the sectors of pastoral life, of catechesis and of charity should be characterized by the missionary dimension: The Church is mission".

The Pope reminded them - and all of us - that evangelization requires a living faith which plants within a person the desire to share that faith with others. This leads to a a desire to "transform the world according to God's plan". The fruit of evangelization is to lead modern men and women out of all the modern forms of slavery and into the "real freedom" which comes through Jesus Christ and membership in His Church.

Pope Benedict XVI often notes what is obvious to any honest observer, many cultures formerly infused with a Christian culture are now "post-Christian" and need to be "re- evangelized." This is the mission of the "New Evangelization." The "New Evangelization" calls all members of the Church to live out our baptismal vocation through lives of sacrificial service at the heart of the Church, for the sake of the world. Since the Second Vatican Council in the Catholic Church the emphasis has been upon the fact that the Church is by nature missionary and that every baptized Christian participates in her missionary activity.

The Pontifical Council for the New Evangelization is tasked with evangelizing countries where the Gospel was announced centuries ago, but where its presence in peoples' daily life seems to be all but lost. On Thursday, May 19, 2011 the Pope named consultors to the Pontifical Council for promoting the New Evangelization:

On Tuesday, June 13, 2011, in the Roman basilica of St. John Lateran, Pope Benedict XVI inaugurated an ecclesial congress marking the close of the pastoral year of the diocese of Rome. The congress has as its theme: "The joy of engendering the faith in the Church of Rome". Vatican Information Service reported upon it.

The Pope said "the faith cannot endure by itself in the world; it is not automatically transmitted to men's hearts but always has to be announced. And the announcement of the faith, in order to be effective, must come from a heart that believes, that hopes, that loves, a heart that adores Christ and believes in the power of the Holy Spirit. ... The response of faith arises when, by God's grace, man discovers that believing means finding true life, the 'full life'".

He then underscored the urgency of evangelization saying, "the Church, each one of us, must bring the world the good news that Jesus is Lord, the One in Whom God's closeness and love for each man and woman became flesh. This announcement must resound anew in regions of ancient Christian tradition". He recalled words he had

ronounced at World Youth Day 2005 in Cologne, Germany: "The happiness you seek, the happiness you have the right to enjoy, has a name and a face: Jesus of Nazareth, concealed in the Eucharist.

"If mankind forgets God", he added, "this is also because Jesus is often reduced to the status of a wise man, and His divinity is diminished if not denied outright. This way of thinking makes it impossible to comprehend the radical novelty of Christianity, because if Jesus is not the only Son of the Father, then God did not enter into the history of mankind. The truth is that the incarnation is at the very heart of the Gospel. May we, then, show increasing commitment to renewing evangelisation, which is a task not just for the few but for all the members of the Church".

 "Should we too not share the beauty and reason of the faith, and carry the light of God to the men and women of our time with courage, conviction and joy?" Pope Benedict asked. "Many are the people who have not yet met the Lord; they must be given our special pastoral attention. ... Today this is more urgent than ever and requires us to commit ourselves trustingly, upheld by the certainty that the grace of God always works on the heart of man".

The Pope went on to explain that the messengers of the good news of the Gospel are the baptised, especially parents "whose job it is to seek Baptism for their children. ... Children need God from an early age. They have the capacity to perceive His greatness; they know how to appreciate the value of prayer and ritual, and to discern the difference between good and evil. Thus they must be guided in the faith from earliest infancy".

As for subsequent stages of the journey of faith, the Holy Father recalled how "the Christian community has always accompanied the formation of children and young people, helping them not only to understand the truths of faith with the intellect, but also to live the experience of prayer, charity and fraternity. The word of faith risks being muted if it does not find a community that puts it into practice, giving it life and making it attractive", he said.

Benedict XVI also spoke of "adolescents who begin the journey of Christian initiation", whom he encouraged "to follow this path, which leads to discovery of the Gospel not as a utopia but as a way to live life to the full". He also invited them to rediscover the Sacrament of Confirmation, "that the gift of the Holy Spirit may confirm the joy of having been generated as children of God".

  "In order for this to be effective and fruitful, it is important that knowledge of Jesus grow and extend beyond the celebration of the Sacraments. This is the task of catechesis. ... Catechesis is ecclesial activity and therefore catechists must teach and bear witness to the faith of the Church, and not some interpretation of their own. This is why the Catechism of the Catholic Church was written".

The Pope concluded by emphasizing the need "for education in silence and interior life. I trust that the paths of Christian initiation followed in the parishes of Rome may educate people in prayer, that prayer may permeate our lives and help us discover the Truth that dwells in our heart. Faithfulness to the faith of the Church must be accompanied by a 'catechetical creativity' which takes account of the context, culture and the age of the people for whom it is intended.

"The heritage of history and art conserved in Rome is another way to bring people to the faith, I invite everyone to emphasise, in their catechesis, this 'way of beauty' which leads to the One Who, according to St. Augustine, is Beauty ever old and ever new".