Brasilia (Fides Service ) – The Bishops Conference of Brazil CNBB has presented a new project: to re-evangelise lapsed Catholics and promote the missionary commitment of laity
The national plan for evangelisation presented in Brasilia stresses the need for missionary activity towards lapsed Catholics to promote an encounter with the person of Jesus. “doctrine, moral proposal and orientation of life to following Jesus, stem from encounter and acceptance of the person of Jesus as one Sent by God, filled with the Holy Spirit that the world may have life ” said Bishop Odilo Scherer, CNBB Secretary General and auxiliary of Sao Paulo archdiocese. Before proposing teaching on moral life or social doctrine or commitment for the human promotion of the poor it is necessary to teach faith in Christ which is the basis of all the commitment of Christian life. Bishop Odilo said it is not a question of giving second place to social work, characteristic of the Church in Brazil, to concentrate only on the interior life, but rather “proposing in a new way the evangelical foundations and motives of Christian commitment in society so they emerge ever more as signs of the Kingdom of God which is fullness of life for every person. ”.
The new plan for national evangelisation was prepared by the Pastoral Commission of the Bishops Conference based on Guidelines for Evangelising Activity of the Church in Brazil (2003-2006) approved in May this year by the CNBB general assembly. The project, which has the title “We want to see Jesus, Way Truth and Life”, will be operative in every diocese by Easter 2004. “In Brazil many situations challenge the evangelising mission of the Church: superficial experience of faith and church life due to poor sense of Catholic identity and belonging to the Church; this explains scarce impulse for mission and insufficient Christian commitment to change society; it is due also to hasty abandonment of the real faith to search outside the Church for answers to profound religious and existential questions. This calls for missionary commitment, which is more effective, organised and constant” said Bishop Scherer. “We cannot be content with our practising Catholics: if the concrete and effective missionary dimension is neglected then the Church is impoverished and loses in vitality”.
According to the Theology department of the Catholic University of Sao Paulo in 2000 Catholics in Brazil were 117 million, about 71% of the population, mostly non practising. In 1991 the official percentage of Catholics was 83% according to the IBGE Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics. This shows a 12% drop in the number of Catholics in ten years. It is estimated that about 600,000 people leave the Church in Brazil every year, most of them join new religious sects.(M. R) (Fides Service 12/11/2003; lines 38; words 530)