Greetings and blessings to you from the Eternal City. As you read this blog, I have joined bishops from around the world for the month-long Synod for the New Evangelization for the Transmission of the Christian Faith to be convened on Sunday by our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI. Next week, our Holy Father will initiate a Year of Faith to mark the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council and the 20th anniversary of the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
The goal of both the Year of Faith and the Synod for the New Evangelization is to reawaken the faith in Catholics in order to be better witnesses to the love of Christ and his Church. Through prayer, study and a firm intention to renew and deepen our faith, and with hearts transformed by Christ and his Gospel, we can change our own lives, and change the world.
In light of these events, and as we prepare for our own archdiocesan synod in 2014 to mark the Archdiocese of Washington’s 75th anniversary, we reflect on the Church as the continuing presence of Jesus Christ in the world and the role of clergy, religious and laity in carrying out his ministry. My recent pastoral letter, The Church, Our Spiritual Home, is intended to be a guide as we renew our understanding of what the Church is and what our role in it is.
Since the Church is the presence of Christ in our world, we who are members of the Church are called to be Jesus’ witnesses in our daily lives, in all that we say and do. The great commission that Jesus gave his disciples before he ascended into heaven is the Lord’s call to us today, to be his witnesses, to shine the light and love of his Gospel to the ends of the earth.
To know more about what our Church teaches, I encourage you to study the catechism. I invite all Catholics of the Archdiocese of Washington to participate in the new Living Catholic formation program. This adult education program, developed by the archdiocese, includes opening and closing sessions at parishes, with four weeks of online learning based on the Four Pillars of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Living Catholic is a great way to grow in knowledge and love of the faith, and then, with confidence, share it with others. That is at the heart of the New Evangelization – particularly during the upcoming Year of Faith.
I look forward to keeping in touch with you from Rome.