Inside the synod: Ideas for implementing the new evangelization

By Bishop Gerald F. Kicanas
One in a series

Tuesday, Oct. 23, 2012

VATICAN CITY —  The synod recessed on Saturday afternoon and only returned to session on Tuesday. In the interim the rapporteurs,  those elected to serve as secretaries of each of the small groups, have been working hard to formulate the propositions for consideration by the synod fathers.

There were 330 propositions submitted by the small groups. Over the weekend, they were  organized by the rapporteurs  according to similarity of content and reduced in number. This morning, 57 propositions were presented to the synod fathers covering a wide range of recommendations.

After prayer, before the announcement of the propositions, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Vatican secretary of state, announced to the body that the Holy Father had intended to send a delegation of synod fathers to Syria to show solidarity to the people suffering the ravages of war and violence, but circumstances have made it necessary to postpone that trip until a time when it can be determined how the visit could be conducted safely and with maximum effect. While disappointing, the visitation remains a hope for the near future.

Many in our country and around the world have expressed interest in this Synod on the New Evangelization for the Transmission of the Christian Faith and hold great expectations for a renewal of faith during this Year of Faith. That expectation is moving toward reality in the formulation of the initial propositions.

Pope Benedict XVI leads a meeting of the Synod of Bishops on the new evangelization at the Vatican Oct. 9. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Among the propositions (my summary; the official document covers 29 pages) that will now receive attention over the next two days as well as further revision by the small groups were:

  • Evangelization has to be understood in a broad and profound theological/doctrinal framework reminding us that the new evangelization is not just a bunch of programs but needs to be grounded in the faith, the activity of word and sacrament emphasizing the primacy of God’s grace.
  • There is a need for all Catholics to awaken their faith and to be inspired to witness that faith and share it with others. Each culture and society needs to find ways for this to happen in the circumstances of their society. Continue reading

After two years and 7,500 dead, cholera still plagues Haiti

A demonstrator carries a sign during a protest in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Oct. 19 calling for United Nations peacekeepers to leave the country. The protest marked the second year anniversary when cholera strain was introduced into the country by Nepalese peacekeepers. The sign reads, “Justice for 7,000 dead, 500,000 others that lie down in hospital with disease outbreak.” (CNS/Swoan Parker, Reuters)

Hundreds of Haitian demonstrators took to the streets of Port-au-Prince, Haiti’s capital, Oct. 20, calling for the United Nations to withdraw all of its troops from the country.

The vocal demonstration came days before the second anniversary of the outbreak of cholera in the Caribbean nation.

The U.N. force, known as the U.N. Stabilization Mission in Haiti, or MINUSTAH, is widely believed to be the source of the disease.

A U.N. investigation into how the water-borne disease was introduced was inconclusive. However, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study in 2011 said U.N. soldiers from Nepal stationed in Artibonite department were the most likely source.

Established in 2004 to help the poorly equipped Haitian National Police maintain security, the size of the MINUSTAH force was increased following the January 2010 earthquake.

As of Oct. 11, Haiti’s Ministry of Public Health and Population reported 600,885 cholera cases and 7,568 deaths across the country. Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe told Reuters last month that the epidemic has been brought under control.

The U.N. Security Council Oct. 12 voted to maintain the MINUSTAH force but to reduce its number by 15 percent immediately. Full withdrawal is expected by June.

Haiti continues to struggle since the massive earthquake claimed more than 300,000 lives. The U.N. estimates that 390,000 people remain in tent camps scattered across the earthquake zone.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and former President Bill Clinton visited northern Haiti Oct. 22 to help open an industrial park in Caracol, near Cap Haitien. The project represents part of the aid the United States has pledged to help the country recover from the earthquake and includes a power plant that will provide electricity to the new garment factories.