News

Thirtieth Anniversary of Evangelii Nuntiandi

07/12/2005

A national celebration in Westminster is being used to invite Catholics to re-visit and respond to one of the most important words in their faith vocabulary – “evangelise.”

On December 7th, at Westminster Cathedral Hall, in the presence of His Eminence, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, hundreds of invited guests will mark thirty years since the publication of a ground breaking document.

They represent every tier and sector of Catholic life to celebrate the publication of what’s been described as a ‘revolutionary piece of writing’; written by Pope Paul VI in 1975, “On Evangelisation in the Modern World” ( Evangelii Nuntiandi) has had an enormous impact on the Church worldwide. It is widely regarded as being the most influential and inspirational teaching document about the contemporary mission of the Catholic Church.

One of the co-organisers of the event is the Catholic Agency to Support Evangelisation (CASE), which is an Agency of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales which exists to support and resource Catholics to celebrate and share their faith. Director, Mgr Keith Barltrop, said: “The whole point of Vatican II was to enable the Church to evangelise more effectively, and Evangelii Nuntiandi spells that out. We have hardly begun to see what it means. I encourage individual parishes to use this timely anniversary to look again at this remarkable document and to respond afresh in these times. CASE is here to support you in this important task.”

Individual Churches are being encouraged to mark the anniversary in their own ways through holding celebrations of their own and/or studying the document in small groups. It is hoped that the anniversary will encourage Catholics to take a fresh look at the mission of the Church, to celebrate how prophetic the vision of Pope Paul has been and continues to be, so that looking to the future it can be applied even more fruitfully. The Sion Catholic Community for Evangelism, which is based in Brentwood, Essex, is also helping to organise the anniversary events. They have been prominent in England and Wales in helping to incarnate the spirit and vision of the encyclical. Michelle Moran is a founding member and said: "The thirtieth anniversary is a celebration of the Church becoming more aware of its fundamental calling and it prompts us to continue to embrace the challenges of reaching out to individuals, society and today’s contemporary culture. Over the last 30 years we have seen evangelisation become more of a user-friendly word in the Church and now we need to continue to make it a reality.”

The Westminster gathering will include an address from His Eminence and short talks from some leading evangelists in England and Wales. Cardinal Cormac Murphy O’Connor said, “Evangelii Nuntiandi made clear that the Church evangelises when she seeks to convert, solely through the Divine Power of the Message she proclaims. Thirty years later, its challenge to our Church in England and Wales is more pressing than ever. How can we liberate that hidden energy of the Good News, which is able to have a powerful effect on people’s conscience? What methods should be followed in order that the power of the Gospel may have its effect? I hope this anniversary will lead us all back to that remarkable document, to hear its invitation, and to be converted to mission and proclamation.”

A number of evangelisation groups and initiatives have stalls at the event to showcase the breadth of evangelisation work currently happening in England and Wales. The celebration will also include practical evangelisation – a mission team will be leading an outreach event on the steps of the Piazza using music and drama, prior to the evening event.

The organisers hope that the anniversary will help to stimulate a renewed response to the document in the Catholic community. Both CASE and the Sion Catholic Community for Evangelism want to encourage every Catholic to be actively evangelising where they live and work. For more information about the work of evangelisation please see: www.caseresources.org.uk For information about the Sion Community please see: www.sioncommunity.org.uk