Humility, solidarity are key to evangelization, synod members say
“The Gospel can be preached to empty stomachs, but only if the stomach of the preacher is as empty as his parishioners’ (stomachs),” Archbishop Socrates Villegas of Lingayen-Dagupan told the Synod of Bishops Oct. 9.
The archbishop was one of several synod members who emphasized the importance of humility and solidarity with the poor as the Catholic Church attempts to strengthen the faith of its members and encourage lapsed Catholics to return.
Archbishop Villegas’ speech to the synod was met with applause, said Basilian Father Thomas Rosica, who briefed reporters about what occurred in the synod hall.
“The new evangelization calls for new humility,” Archbishop Villegas told the synod. “The Gospel cannot thrive in pride.”
Following Christ means imitating him with “a deep sense of awe and reverence for humanity,” he said. “Evangelization has been hurt and continues to be impeded by the arrogance of its messengers.”
A fellow Filipino, Archbishop Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila, also emphasized the importance of imitating Jesus’ humility, which he said was seen most clearly in Jesus’ willingness to become human, to suffer and to die for humanity.
Jesus’ humility allowed him to demonstrate real love and concern for all people, particularly “those neglected and despised by the world,” and the church must do the same, Archbishop Tagle said.
Being humble also means recognizing when the church does not have all the answers, and therefore being willing to remain silent, he said, adding that “a church at home with silence will make the voiceless believe they are not alone.”
Polish Cardinal Zenon Grocholewski, prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education, told the synod that the greatest obstacle a priest or theologian faces in becoming an effective evangelizer “is without a doubt pride, along with its natural ally, selfishness. The obsession with becoming great, original (and) important reduces more than a few to being ‘pastors who shepherd themselves and not their flocks,’” as St. Augustine once said.
Each member of the church, he said, must make a serious examination of conscience and, “at the foot of the cross, learn humility and authentic love.” [More]