We already had big news that the Pope is forming a new Pontifical Council in the Vatican that is tasked with overseeing the New Evangelization of western culture - esp. Western Europe.
Now, there is a partner with the Pope in advancing this evangelization and it couldn't be a bigger partner.
ROME, May 24, 2010 – Benedict XVI will soon create a new "pontifical council" expressly dedicated to the "new evangelization." Not for mission countries where the congregation "de propaganda fide" is already at work. But for the countries of ancient Christian tradition that are today in danger of losing the faith.Please pray fervently that this happens.
Pope Joseph Ratzinger wants to link his pontificate to this initiative. And this was the main topic that he discussed one morning in the spring of 2009, at Castel Gandolfo, with four prominent cardinals he had called for consultation: Camillo Ruini, Angelo Bagnasco, Christoph Schönborn, and Angelo Scola, the last being the most resolute in promoting the institution of the new office.
Meanwhile, one great ally has already united with the pope from outside of the Catholic Church, in this enterprise of a new evangelization.
This great ally is the Russian Orthodox Church.
On the afternoon of Thursday, May 20, immediately before the concert given for Benedict XVI by the patriarchate of Moscow began in the audience hall, the president of the department of external relations for the patriarchate, Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk (in the photo), said exactly this to the pope: that the Catholic Church will not be alone in the new evangelization of dechristianized Europe, because it will have at its side the Russian Orthodox Church, "no longer a competitor, but an ally."
The positive relationship that has been established between the Russian Orthodox Church and the Church of Rome is one of the most stunning achievements of Benedict XVI's pontificate. It is also stunning for its rapidity. In fact, it's enough to look back just one decade to note the chill that dominated between the two Churches.
To a question from www.chiesa on the factors that led to this extraordinary change, Metropolitan Hilarion responded by indicating three of these.
The first factor, he said, is the person of the new pope. A pope who receives "the positive regard of the whole of the Russian Orthodox world," even though this is pervaded by age-old anti-Roman sentiments.
The second factor is the common view of the challenge posed to both Churches by the dechristianization of countries that in the past were the heart of Christendom.
And the third reason is their mutual embrace of the grand Christian tradition, as the great highway of the new evangelization.