Proclaim 15, the challenge of the Gospel

The 22 dioceses in the Country convene will convene July 11 in Birmingham. Secularization and mission. The words of the primate, card. Nichols

A unique event, a result of the extraordinary pontificate of Pope Francis that could revitalize the parishes of England and Wales as never happened before. “Proclaim 15” will bring together July 11, in the heart of Birmingham, over 800 Catholics from all 22 dioceses, from Hadrian’s Wall to the English Channel, who “will learn” how to evangelize, with renewed methods and emphases, in one of the most secularized countries in the world. The 11 working groups will produce one hundred practical advices that may become a permanent resource, available on the website of the Bishops Conference (www.catholicnews.org.uk/proclaim15), where are already found the history and the content of this initiative. Silvia Guzzetti interviewed for SIR Europe the Catholic primate of England and Wales, Cardinal Vincent Nichols, on this historic moment for the national Church. In the library and theatre of Birmingham are expected all the bishops of England and Wales and hundreds of workers responsible for evangelization while the parishes in the rest of the Country will pray for the success of the event. For two years you have been preparing this Day, which seems to respond to Bergoglio’s “Evangelii gaudium”, with practical instructions for the mission of the church. In your opinion what is the most important resource that the delegates will bring home with them? “Undoubtedly a stronger relationship with the Lord. The most important thing we can do for a good evangelization is to draw all of our actions from prayer and from our personal relationship with Christ. Only when this relationship is alive and we have something to offer we can ‘risk’ showing others the joy and the consolation that comes from being close to Christ”. If you were to choose between young Catholics who no longer go to church, Catholics who practice their faith only at Christmas and foreigners who just arrived in the United Kingdom, which of these groups would you reach out to on the Day devoted to Evangelization? “The work of evangelization we are imagining and encouraging with this initiative always comes from the parishes and therefore the answer to this question changes according to the circumstances of the different parish communities. In some there could be 200 faithful who go to Mass every week and in others 1500 who go to church only for baptisms, marriages and funerals; and those 200 who regularly go to church, could decide to reach out to those 1500 who go to church only every now and then. In a large city the Catholics could arrive week after week, from Poland or Eastern Europe, and be the most important target of the mission. In the parish in which I was last week, for example, “All Saints”, in the Middlesex, it was evident that much emphasis had been placed on the family as the first place of evangelization and as the place where parents transmit the faith to their offspring. In this way the parish grows, with strength and love, from one generation to the next”. Saturday is the festivity of Saint Benedict, patron saint of a deeply secularized Europe. Do you think that “Proclaim 15”, a unique initiative, could reach out to a society that is often so distant from God? “I think that British society is recognizing little by little that it needs something more than the superficial grounds of our public culture. It needs something more consistent and deeper than some of the British values, which despite being positive and shared, need more fertile and solid grounds. Here in the United Kingdom there is a widespread feeling of having lost the way and that if we intend to recover social cohesion we must dig deeper. We must recognize that faith in God is an enormous resource, not a problem, and that as a society we should learn again to ensure that religious faith is our friend”.

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