Albury (Fides Service) - Speaking last Tuesday in Albury to 60 priests and monks from the Australian Confraternity of Catholic Clergy, apostolic nuncio Archbishop Ambrose Battista De Paoli, emphasised the importance of "living Christianity” to face the challenges facing the main Christian Churches in Australia.
Pennsylvania-born Archbishop Ambrose Battista De Paoli, a priest for 45 years, fluent in French, Italian and Spanish, was appointed an archbishop in 1983 after diplomatic service in Zambia, Venezuela, Canada and the Vatican. Since 1983, he has been the Vatican's nuncio or delegate in Sri Lanka, South Africa, Lesotho, Swaziland, Namibia, Botswana and Japan. He has worked in Canberra since March last year.
"After Sri Lanka, Africa and Japan, it's a different world in the same world," he said. Each area has its own particular challenge. The biggest challenge for (Australian) mainstream churches, of which the Catholics are part, is the decline in numbers attending worship weekly or periodically. A lot of other religious expressions are coming up, many of them offshoots of Christianity as such. They have their own style which somewhat clashes with the traditions of the main churches."
But Archbishop De Paoli said that Christianity was more than going to church. It was rather a matter of people "living their Christianity" and also demonstrating that lifestyle to non-Christians.
Today in Australia there is a reawakening of religious sentiment especially among young people. The main problems, common to many western societies, are religious indifference, increasing secularism and hedonism. Major challenges include strengthening Christian identity, formation in the faith in view of authentic witnesses to Christ and new evangelisation. Important agents for new evangelisation are the laity, young people especially and church movements and communities. An opportunity for evangelisation is undoubtedly offered by the preparation and celebration for the World Youth Day to be held in Sydney 2008. At the meeting with the clergy in Albury local Catholics expressed the hope that Pope Benedict XVI may travel to Australia on the occasion of that major Church event in two years time. (PA) (Agenzia Fides 13/7/2006 righe 27 parole 278)