(Vatican Radio) The very definition of the term “New Evangelization” is one of the
topics being discussed by the XIII General Ordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops
on the “The New Evangelization for the Transmission of the Christian Faith”.
aspect which was made clear early on in the deliberations is that the New Evangelization
is not just for the older Churches in the West. Christian communities in Africa and
Asia are also experiencing the loss of members.
In Cameroon, the Church is
trying to do something about it.
“Many of our parishioners, they leave our
churches and go to new churches,” explained Bertoua Archbishop Joseph Atanga, S.J.,
President of the Cameroon Episcopal Conference. “We have to do something to keep
them in our churches, and not let them go. If they are leaving our churches, they
must have reasons, and we are trying to know the reasons…and see what we can do.”
Atanga, who is a Synod Father, is calling on Catholic clergy to be more available
to their parishioners.
“Listening to our parishioners is very important, because
people need to be listened to, and we have to find time for them, to be there for
them,” he told Vatican Radio. “If we are not there for them, they will look for other
places where they can be listened to.”
Many of these problems were discussed
during the 2009 Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops.
current Synod Father, Archbishop Cornelius Fontem Esua of Bamenda, said after the
2009 meeting, his Archdiocese decided to help build community in the Church.
decided to use the Small Christian Communities as a pattern, a pastoral approach,
within which the Christians know one another, they live together, they share the Gospel,”
he said. “Knowing one another, knowing the capacities of one another, they invite
the different members of the community to play a specific role in one of the aspects
of evangelization. We call these pastoral commissions.”
These commissions elect
representatives to commissions at the deanery and diocesan level.
that is an approach that invites everybody to participate in the work of evangelization,
and at the same time invites everybody to collaborate with one another in the work
of evangelization,” Archbishop Esua told Vatican Radio.
“I personally think
this is an approach that the rest of the Church can benefit from…because small Christian
communities in the context of primary evangelization make it possible for all the
new Christians, the neophytes, to live in community, to understand the Church is family…and
in that family, everybody has a role to play,” Esua said.
also said everyone within the Church must play their part, instead of depending on
clergy and religious to do the work of evangelization.
“Laypeople are the
Church. Without them there is no Church,” he said. “Working together, that is the
way we can move ahead and have strong Churches.”
Listen to the interview
by Fr. Moses Hamungole with Archbishop Atanga:
to the interview by Fr. Moses Hamungole with Archbishop Esua: