I don’t understand the “New Evangelization” that everyone’s crowing about
And I’m not just being snarky… (Well, not entirely)
Ok, so tip-toeing carefully around that big gaping hole of a casual fallacy that lays dead ahead, I’ll bring the narrative back to the Second Vatican Council for just a moment.
The Council ends in 1965 and shortly thereafter (or, it could be argued, shortly before 1965) everything goes to hell in a hand-basket in most of the Western World. Vocations collapse, Mass attendance plummets, etc. You all know the story.
In 1979, Pope John Paul II visits Poland and declares a “New Evangelization”. So, the new in the New Evangelization is something of a misnomer. Apparently it’s been going on for more than three decades without much success.
Here’s the thing, in the years since John Paul announced it, things have only gotten worse. The deeply Catholic Poland that the pope chose as a venue to roll out his new program is now secularizing at roughly the same rate as Western Europe. In Ireland it was recently reported that according to 2011 numbers, only 18 percent of Irish Catholics attended Mass regularly (not weekly but regularly) and according to the Archbishop of Dublin, Diarmuid Martin, that number was 90 percent in 1984. (Re-read that last part: “that number was 90 percent in 1984“)
Think about that… During the pontificate of John Paul II — a man who many want to declare “the Great” — in the full flower of the New Evangelization, Ireland was lost to the Catholic Church. Ireland! The Reformation couldn’t wrench her away. Centuries of foreign occupation couldn’t sway her loyalty. It’s a nation where people starved to death or emigrated rather than eat at soup kitchens set up by the Anglican church during the Great Famine. But now it’s gone…
Fast forward to the recent conclave. Talking heads — many bishops among them — told us that we needed a pope from the developing world where the Church was growing to boldly proclaim the New Evangelization. He’d definitely be a younger man in light of Benedict’s resignation for reasons of age and frailty, etc., etc. Again, you all know the story.
So the cardinals, in their inscrutable wisdom, gave us a 76 year old man from a diocese with few to no vocations. A man from a region of the world so plagued by defections from the Catholic Church that the growing “influence of the sects” in Latin America became a major agenda item at the 1997 Synod of Bishops. A man, who as pope, refuses to speak any language other than Italian and who consistently downplays the universal nature of his office. (Which strikes me as odd given the universal aims of the so called New Evangelization).
The men who have worn purple, scarlet, and, sadly, white during these last decades could not have done more damage to the Church if they tried. And the solution, they tell us, is more of the same… (!)
Am I the only one scratching my head?