Thursday, June 11, 2009

Passions

One of my passions is evangelization. I truly believe that if Catholics embraced the call to evangelize that we would change our Church, our cultures, and our world for the glory of God. But, we can't do anything close to such a grand goal until we start to help others encounter the true and living Christ. Some bishops have the same kind of passion. One of those is Archbishop Gomez of San Antonio. At a recent speech in Boston he said the following, in reference to Hispanic ministries (emphasis added):
“A generation ago, we can hardly imagine a Hispanic saying he or she had ‘no religion,’ yet that number has doubled in just the past few years,” he continued.

However, he emphasized the need for an approach to culture that is “broader” than simply ministering to Hispanics.

“Definitely, we need to raise up Hispanic Catholics leaders, and we need a pastoral plan to educate Hispanics in the faith and to nourish them with the sacraments,” Archbishop Gomez said. “But this must be part of a wider evangelical strategy. We need to commit ourselves again to the work of re-evangelization, to preaching the Gospel again to America.”

Noting the rise in high school dropout rates and single-parent families among Hispanics, the archbishop said, “I worry that we may be ministering to a permanent Hispanic underclass.”

Hispanics have some of the highest rates of teen pregnancy, out-of-wedlock births and abortion, he added, saying these cannot be written off as just “conservative” issues.

“[W]e need to find new ways to keep our kids chaste and in school, and to instill in them the value of education,” he advised. “We need to push for real improvements in public education, and in public support for private education, especially in our poorest school districts. And we need to assemble all the resources of our own network of Catholic schools to meet this challenge.”

The archbishop then further underlined the need for evangelization.

“Hispanic ministry should mean only one thing—bringing Hispanic people to the encounter with Jesus Christ in his Church. Too often, I’m afraid, we lose sight of that,” he said, warning that Catholics should not mistake the “means” of programs and bureaucratic administration for this most important end.

“The proclamation of Jesus Christ must be the criteria against which we measure everything we do in Hispanic ministry,” he continued. “Are we making new disciples? Are we strengthening the faith of those who have already been made disciples? Is the knowledge and love of Christ spreading through our work?”

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