It was in a packed St Peter’s Basilica on Sunday that Pope Benedict XVI declared that the year 2012 to 2013 was to be a”Year of Faith”. The Holy Father made the announcement during his homily at a mass for the New Evangelisation. The Eucharistic celebration marked the conclusion of a meeting organised by Pontifical Council for the New Evangelisation, which the Pope addressed on Saturday.
Speaking about his decision to invoke this “Year of Faith” Pope Benedict said it was "to give new impetus to the mission of the whole Church to lead men out of the desert in which they often find themselves, to the place of life, of friendship with Christ".
The Pope explained that the year would be “a moment of grace and commitment to a more complete conversion to God, to strengthen our faith in Him and to proclaim Him with joy to the people of our time."
In order to illustrate the meaning of this "Year of Faith", the Holy Father said he would prepare a special Apostolic Letter and he informed the congregation present that the year would begin “on 11 October 2012, the 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council, and would end on 24 November 2013, Solemnity of Christ the King",.
During the course of his Homily the Holy Father referred back to the meeting of the Pontifical Council saying, he was delighted that this conference had taken place in the month of October, a month of prayer and just one week before the World Mission Sunday.
The Pope underlined that there was no opposition between the mission ad gentes and new evangelization, although he added the latter was very urgent, “especially in traditionally Christian countries, which have become increasingly "indifferent" and "hostile" to the mission of the Church.”
The Pope’s sentiments were echoed by those of the President of the Pontifical Council for the New Evangelization, Archbishop Rino Fisichella in his address to the Holy Father at the start of the celebration. He said, the mission of the church now needed “an additional face, that of the new evangelization, primarily, as he put it, for believers to rediscover the strength to believe and the joy of bearing witness.”
The Pope looked to history, and to the Gospel on Sunday to re-enforce the importance of a New Evangelization. He said "the theology of history was an important, and essential part of the new evangelization, because the men of our time, after the disastrous era of totalitarian empires of the twentieth century, need to find a comprehensive vision of the world and time, a truly free, peaceful vision.”
Turning to the First Letter of Saint Paul to the Thessalonians for inspiration, the Holy Father explained, it demonstrates that in order to be effective, evangelization needs the power of the Spirit.
Drawing his homily to a close the Pope Benedict stressed that "the new evangelizers are called to walk in the Path that is Christ, and to make known to others the beauty of the Gospel that gives life".
Listen to Lydia O'Kane's (Vatican Radio) report : >>