Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan said at an Oct. 15 press briefing for the ongoing Synod for New Evangelization that all Catholics must witness to their faith to the modern world.
“(T)he universal call to the New Evangelization … is a charge from which no one can escape if one takes discipleship and Catholic identity seriously,” said Cardinal Dolan. “I would see in it the emphasis that we're all in it together, folks.”
He also stressed the importance of humility in achieving this mission, especially among the clergy.
“To be humble is not just a pastoral strategy but an evangelical demand,” he said. “Sometimes we bishops haven't been. If we're going to be renewed and converted to Jesus Christ, we need to be humble. But also it's honey, in a way. It attracts people when they see humble bishops.”
Cardinal Dolan also repeated a message that he first delivered to the synod assembly, saying that sacramental confession is a cornerstone of the New Evangelization and that it was wrongly de-emphasized in the minds of many following the Second Vatican Council.
“There are some basic messages of the Church that we haven't mouthed enough, and I think (the need for confession) is one of them,” he said.
“It seemed to be a truism after the Second Vatican Council that the council had done away with the Sacrament of Penance, which is not true. If you read the documents, it called for a renewal of it. I'm afraid that on so many levels we just gave up and we said, 'Well, that ain't going over,' so we stopped trying.”
Instead of giving up on confession, Cardinal Dolan urged Catholics to follow the example of Jesus Christ, who “never gave up. The messages of the Gospel are constant.”
And the call to perpetual conversion through the confession is especially attractive, he said, because it offers a personal encounter with Christ—an encounter attractive to newcomers to the faith.
“One thing that attracts new Catholics is the Sacrament of Penance,” he said, noting that young people “will often say that the Church is impersonal to them, a little faceless. But you can't find a more personal sacrament than Penance.”
The whole Church benefits from continual re-conversion and acknowledging the nature of sin, he added.
“When you're in an adult formation group, some people will bring up scandals in the Church in the past,” he said. “We're well aware of the mistakes, the sins, the failings of the past so much so that it leads us constantly to penance and conversion of heart and interior renewal. I hope that's what the New Evangelization is all about.”