Paul GROGAN and Kirsteen KIM, editor. The New Evangelization: Faith, People, Context and Practice. London: Bloomsbury, 2015. Pp. 296 + xii. $83.99. ISBN 978-0-567-65737-4. Reviewed by Francis X. KLOSE, Cabrini College, Radnor PA 19087.
What exactly is “The New Evangelization”? The term is often mentioned in Catholic circles. The term refers mainly to a second evangelization; the mission lands are no longer mission territories but officially fully members of the Church. First an idea by Bl. Paul VI, Saint John Paul II frequently mentioned the idea of the New Evangelization, and Pope Benedict XVI established the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization. Further, the 2012 synod, “The New Evangelization for the Transmission of the Christian Faith” put further discussion, and Pope Francis has constantly spoken on the topic during his pontificate. The New Evangelization: Faith, People, Context and Practice is a collection of essays that seeks to put the New Evangelization into context for today in light of increasing secularism.
The perspectives in The New Evangelization: Faith, People, Context and Practice are very diverse; the essays come from Africa, the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, and Belgium. The breadth of perspectives shows that the New Evangelization is not a neatly-packaged program that a local church can unveil and be guaranteed success by following the formula. The essays are organized into four major parts: Vatican II and the New Evangelization, The Church of The New Evangelization, The New Evangelization in Context, and Proclaiming the New Evangelization, beginning after a foreword from Rino Fisichella, President of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization and an introduction by co-editor Kirsteen Kim.
The first part, Vatican II and the New Evangelization, opens with an essay by Mathijs Lamberigts entitled, “Vatican II, Non-Christian Religions and the Channels for (New) Evangelization Programmes”. Lamberigts reminds us that an overwhelming majority voted for the aggiorniamento of the Second Vatican Council. Considering Nostra Aetate, we are reminded that we are to consider the religious or non-religious convictions of others. The Christian conviction that Jesus is the Way, Truth, and Life should be proclaimed with the wholeness of one’s self – never forgetting humility and respect for other religions. John Gorski says we should consider the transition in Latin America from a “mission” land to consider the various situations in need of evangelization. Tracey Rowland looks at the effect on a Christocentric approach in the midst of culture, with a reminder that the New Evangelization is not a mere marketing campaign.
The second part, The Church of the New Evangelization, includes an essay from the now-late Francis Cardinal George, a highlight of the collection, particularly for those reading in the United States. George’s essay, “The Ecclesiology of Communion: From Jurisdiction to Relationship”, looks at the Church’s role in terms of primary evangelization and secondary evangelization. The primary evangelization is when the Word comes to a mission land; once a territory “makes it” into a fully established Church, so to speak, the exchange from one another does not end. Rather, communion is established in an ongoing sharing of gifts.
The third part, The New Evangelization in Context, looks at a few settings from which the New Evangelization must occur. First, Fernando Filoni looks at how places such as Asia, Africa, and Oceania have young churches, and how the European and American Churches can help provide a model to deal with ongoing challenges. But, even in the “mature” church, evangelization must always occur. Other essays consider the context of the African churches, and the context of evangelization in the midst of other religions. Further, what objections exist to evangelization?
Part four focuses on the practice of the New Evangelization. Petroc Willey considers what role the Catechism of the Catholic Church has in the New Evangelization, recognizing three key elements that could provide success to the New Evangelization. Stephen Morgan considers John Henry Newman’s choice of “cor ad cor loquitur”, and what might move the heart within evangelization. Finally, two essays look at the status of the Church since Vatican II, with considerations to Nostra Aetate and published Census numbers.
Much of The New Evangelization: Faith, People, Context, and Practice is in the context of Europe in addition to the United States. But, the text is valuable in a couple ways. First, the text gives much clearer a sense to what the New Evangelization actually is. This is both very important on the practical level, and gives the theologian a starting point for developing a strategy to get beyond what the cliché, perhaps the ever-present idea that the New Evangelization is simply advertising the church using online media and technology. The text would be a valuable tool in a graduate course on Church ministry, or perhaps even would help form the basis for a graduate course on the New Evangelization.