The work is edited by Michael Hayes who Chairs the Theology and Religious Studies Department at St Mary's College, University of Surrey. Dr. Hayes has also published a theology reader, Contemporary Catholic Theology.(1999) and Religion and Sexuality (1998). His text Mission & Evangelization establishes that the Roman Catholic Church's self-understanding has moved from "the Church has a mission" to "the Church is mission." Hayes concludes it is the mission of every Christian to be an evangelizer.
An inspiring but uneven work, this compilation of reflections by eight cardinals on missions and evangelization possess some useful insights. Eight cardinals explore their own work of mission and evangelization. They offer through various international perspectives a clarification and understanding of the terms "mission" and "evangelization." Citing their own experiences from around the world each cardinal relates from his experience how the Church may direct its missionary activity today. Whether in a country, a diocese, a parish, or a school, the Cardinals show that it is important to carry out the evangelism of Christ and there is always urgency in the proclamation of Christ as the redeeming messiah. The following cardinals have contributed to the text: Francis Arinze, Desmond Connell, Cahal Daly, Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, Wilfrid Napier, Vinko Puljic, Francis Stafford, and Thomas Williams. As might be expected in any edited volume the quality and usefulness of the individual chapters varies widely.
Francis Arinze examines how the gospel may be proclaimed in a world of multiple religions. He considers the modern context of cultural plurality as he acknowledges the problems presented by inculturation and relativism.
Desmond Connell looks toward the salvation of young people as they are the Church of the future. He considers the existential questions and cultural obstacles that teen face integrating into larger society and the Church. In particular he highlights the influence the media has on the young who tend to absorb it uncritically.
Cahal Daly turns the reader's attention to Catholic schools. He calls for a renewal of education fused with a knowledge of grace. Education also should be a life long process where one increases in their awareness of Christ.
Cormac Murphy-O'Connor seeks to understand the nature of authority and how that authority works with the Church. He comes to the conclusion that authority is directed toward the common good and is an act of service.
Wilfrid Napier details how South African bishops responded to the encyclical Evangelii Nutiandi. The bishops focused on the transformation of society by addressing two areas: working for justice and increasing laity involvement.
Vinko Puljic, who is Archbishop of Sarajevo, understandably calls for open dialogue. Considering the political and social climate of Bosnia-Herzegovina one can expect his paper to stress the need for ecumenical and inter-religious communication. He advises Catholic cooperation with Muslims and Jews to move society forward.
Francis Stafford investigates the role of the modern parish. He offers seven principles for renewal for this new millennium: a spirituality of persons, a diachronic understanding of Christ's mediation, the incarnation, revival of Catholic imagination, praise, increased understanding of Christian freedom and improved post-baptismal catechesis.
Thomas Williams explores the very language of mission and evangelization . Explaining that the term evangelization is derived from the Greek eu-angelos meaning "good news," Williams elucidates the activity that good news requires in conversion, witnessing, proclaiming, celebrating and transforming.
Hayes explains in his preface that the cardinals call also for clarity in a Christian world-view, with other religious tradition, and with all people of good will. Mission & Evangelization can easily be read in an afternoon but holds reflections both old and new.