Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York told the synod of bishops at gathered the Vatican that “the primary sacrament of the New Evangelization is the sacrament of penance.”
“Yes the sacraments of initiation – baptism, confirmation and the Eucharist – change, challenge and equip the agents of evangelization, but the sacrament of reconciliation evangelizes the evangelizers, as it brings us sacramentally into contact with Jesus who calls us to conversion of heart and inspires (us) to answer his invitation to repentance,” Cardinal Dolan said on Oct. 9, the third day of the synod.
Cardinal Dolan is one of seven U.S. bishops present at the synod, which runs October 7-28 and was convened by Pope Benedict to discuss the theme of “The New Evangelization for the Transmission of the Christian Faith.”
Speaking in the presence of the Pope, Cardinal Dolan proposed that for a new evangelization to happen “the very agents of evangelization must first be evangelized themselves,” and that begins with sacramental confession.
With only 48 hours to go before the 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council’s opening, he lamented the fact that while the council “called for a renewal of the sacrament of penance,” what emerged “sadly, in many places, was the disappearance of the sacrament.”
Instead, he recalled, the conclusion of Vatican II in 1965 saw a series of demands for the “reform of structures, systems, institutions and people other than ourselves.”
But the answer to the question “what is wrong with the world?” proved was not external factors like “politics, the economy, secularism, pollution or global warming,” he noted.
“No, as G.K. Chesterton wrote, the answer to the question what is wrong with the world is two words: ‘I am.’”
Cardinal Dolan stated in his remarks to his 250 fellow bishops that paving the way for a personal “conversion of heart and repentance,” which is the “core of the Gospel invitation,” requires a recognition of personal sin.
“This happens in the sacrament of penance. This is the sacrament of the New Evangelization,” he said to warm applause from the assembled Synod Fathers, experts and observers.