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Pope Benedict and the New Evangelization

February 20, 2013

I’ve been thinking a lot about the pope lately, and reading about his legacy with, say, George Weigel and John Allen, and talking about his pontificate with my learned colleagues here at Sacred Heart. I can add little to their observations, except perhaps for this point.

Last October, I was privileged to participate in the Synod of Bishops as it explored, under Benedict’s presidency, the New Evangelization. As I sat listening to prelates from around the world grapple with what the New Evangelization was and what it will demand of each and every one of us, I had the persistent feeling the Pope Benedict would not be there to lead the Church into what—by all lights visible to me—portends to be a major period of ecclesiastical history. Indeed, I wondered whether His Holiness would even be able to write the accustomed post-synodal apostolic exhortation through which prism synodal deliberations are typically viewed. Now we know that he will not write that document.

So, today I read in a poignant Weigel column that Benedict has “thrust open the door to the Church of the New Evangelization”. And it hit me: Benedict opened the door for us, but—almost Moses like?—he himself shall not pass through it. It made me a little sad. But it also reinforced the point that the task of undertaking the New Evangelization now falls to another generation, and another, and …

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