By NICOLE WINFIELD (AP)
VATICAN CITY — Pope Benedict XVI on Tuesday outlined his most tangible initiative yet to try to revive Christianity, creating a Vatican office for re-evangelizing Europe and other traditionally Christian regions where the faith is falling by the wayside.
In an official decree, Benedict said the new office would work with bishops to promote church doctrine, use modern communication methods to get the church’s message out and mobilize missionary-type activities using members of religious orders and new religious movements.
But even on its first day of existence, the Pontifical Council for the New Evangelization ran into an all-too-typical Vatican snag: The four-page decree instituting the office was issued only in Latin and Italian, even though the pope announced the office’s creation four months ago.
Asked how the pope expected to bring the church’s message to the world in such relatively unknown languages, the head of the new office, Monsignor Rino Fisichella said he hadn’t been in charge until Tuesday and wasn’t responsible for how the decree was issued.
He stressed that he planned to have language sections in his department to deal with the faithful in English, Spanish, French, Portuguese, Italian, German and Slavic languages. And the Vatican spokesman said the decree would eventually be published in other languages.
Fisichella denied the creation of the office was a mere bureaucratic attempt to fix a complex cultural phenomenon, saying Benedict had made an astute, pastoral decision to focus attention on a growing problem that had preoccupied popes for decades.
Benedict has made reviving Europe’s Christian roots a priority of his papacy and has concentrated his foreign travels on the continent. While the decree listed no specific geographical areas where it will concentrate, the evangelization office is also expected to pay attention to Latin America, where evangelical movements are making inroads in traditionally Catholic countries such as Brazil.
In the decree, Benedict lamented that with tremendous scientific, social and cultural progress over the past century, parts of the world that once had strong Christian roots had grown to believe that they can exist without God.
“While some greeted this as a freedom, they soon realized the interior desert that is born when man — thinking himself the architect of his own nature and destiny — finds himself lacking that which is fundamental to everything,” Benedict wrote.
May these efforts beart much fruit!
Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few; so ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest.” (Matt. 9:38)