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Pope Francis, Renewal and Parish Evangelisation

The pope, as the Successor of Peter, is our link of continuity and touchstone to Jesus and his Gospel. Today, Peter bears the name Francis, and while he has his own particular style, the teaching and mission remain the same.

In continuity with his predecessors, Pope Francis calls us now to a new period of Evangelisation. He and recent popes have warned that the Christian way of life and the Gospel vision of right and wrong, virtue and God’s love and mercy all seem to be eclipsed by counter voices that find the Church’s perennial teaching somehow distasteful. So pervasive is this “other message” that today many never even get to hear the truth, richness and joy of the authentic Gospel of Christ. These challenges include an increasingly aggressive secularism, materialism, individualism and relativism.

It is in this context that we are each called to renew and deepen our faith, grow in confidence in its truth, and joyfully share it with others. Parishes are natural centres for this New Evangelisation because they offer opportunities for hearing the Word of God, for prayer and celebration of the sacraments, and for catechesis and training in charity.

A hallmark of Pope Francis is his emphasis on “going out” into the world, not staying wrapped up within ourselves or our parish enclaves, but for each of us, as Spirit-filled missionary disciples, to meet people where they are and bring them a fuller vision of life. We are called to re-propose Christ as the answer to a humanity staggering under the weight of so many unanswered questions of the heart. In this effort, we have the grace of the Holy Spirit to summon new strength and discover fresh resources to attract and urge an entire generation to find again the uncomplicated, genuine and tangible treasure of friendship with Jesus.

The lives of the first disciples who encountered the Risen Christ were never the same afterward. Now it is our turn. Renewed in the Spirit, our hearts transformed by Christ, we can change the hearts of others and transform the world.

About Cardinal Wuerl

Cardinal Donald Wuerl is the Archbishop of Washington and was elevated to the College of Cardinals in 2010 by Pope Benedict XVI. He participated in the March 2013 conclave that elected Pope Francis.

He serves on numerous national and international bodies and is chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, chancellor of The Catholic University of America, chairman of the board of the Pope John Paul II Cultural Foundation and also of The Papal Foundation. He serves on the Vatican Congregations for the Doctrine of the Faith, for Bishops, for Clergy, the Pontifical Councils for Promoting Christian Unity, for Culture, and the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See. He is the former chairman of numerous committees of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, including the Committee on Doctrine, and is a member of the USCCB Committee on Evangelisation and Catechesis.

Cardinal Wuerl is known for his teaching ministry and is involved in many education, health care and social service organizations. He is the author of numerous articles and over a dozen books, including the best-selling catechisms, The Teaching of Christ and The Catholic Way. His most recent books include, New Evangelisation: Passing on the Catholic Faith Today (2013), The Church (2013), The Light Is On For You (2014), To the Martyrs: A Reflection on the Supreme Christian Witness (2015), and Ways to Pray: Growing Closer to God (2015).

Cardinal Wuerl hosted Pope Francis in Washington in September 2015 for His Holiness’ first pastoral visit to the United States. Earlier he hosted Pope Benedict XVI in Washington in April 2008 on the Holy Father’s historic journey to the United States. He was appointed by Pope Benedict XVI to help direct the October 2012 Synod of Bishops on The New Evangelisation for the Transmission of the Christian Faith. Cardinal Wuerl was appointed by Pope Francis as a member of the 2014 Extraordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops on The Pastoral Challenges of the Family in the Context of Evangelisation and the October 2015 Synod on The Vocation and Mission of the Family in the Church and in the Contemporary World.

The Cardinal was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and received graduate degrees from The Catholic University of America, the Gregorian University in Rome and a doctorate in theology from the University of Saint Thomas in Rome. He was ordained a bishop by Pope John Paul II on January 6, 1986, in Saint Peter’s Basilica, Rome. He served as Auxiliary Bishop in Seattle until 1987 and then as Bishop of Pittsburgh for 18 years until his appointment to Washington. His titular church in Rome is Saint Peter in Chains.

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PROCLAIM 2016 conference is organised on behalf of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference by the Catholic Diocese of Broken Bay.
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