George Weigel has just published a proposed blueprint for the “New Evangelization,” entitled Evangelical Catholicism which, to the extent that it is read will greatly amplify the New Evangelization, i.e., the Church’s duty everywhere and at all times to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It was Pope Paul VI who in Evangelii Nuntiandi observed that the work of evangelization was so necessary because of the de- Christianization of the twilight year of the 20th century. Pope Montini noted the multitudes of baptized Catholics living lives that did not distinguish them all that much from those ignorant of the Gospel; also those who, while ignorant of the full gospel, nevertheless had faith and lived according to the natural moral law, and Catholics who desired a more heartfelt relationship with Jesus Christ not given emphasis in the catechesis they received as children. His successor Pope John Paul II said that his predecessor’s use of “New Evangelization” in Evangelii Nuntiandi was a response to new challenges that the modern world created for the Church’s mission. John Paul saw the need for a renewal of evangelization in the contemporary life of the Church in his Redemptoris Missio, which thus presented a new synthesis of Church teaching on evangelization for our time.
Weigel defines Evangelical Catholicism as “the Catholicism that is being born, often with great difficulty, through the work of the Holy Spirit in prompting deep Catholic reform—a reform that meets the challenges proposed to Christian orthodoxy and Christian life by the riptides of change that have reshaped world culture since the nineteenth century.”