by PETER GRACE
AUCKLAND — Priest and professor Fr Anthony Gittins, CSSp, sees problems with The New Evangelisation, which the Catholic Church is preparing to focus on this year.
Fr Gittins gave a talk about mission, in west Auckland on February 23. He was subsequently asked for his view of The New Evangelisation.
Pope John Paul II published Novo Millennio Ineunte (The New Evangelisation) towards the end of 2000.
But, Fr Gittings said, it misses out women, it misses out religious, it misses out laypeople, and it is strongly hierarchical. And it is very strongly clerical.
“The language is awful,” Fr Gittins said, “and it’s about people who have slipped away from the Church. It is very condescending language, and the problem is, they have not slipped away — they have been driven away, or they have walked away, or they have run away.”
Secondly, he said, the document is about bringing them back to the Church, rather than bringing them back to within the ecclesia. “So there’s a lot of it that is problematic,” he said.
At the same time, there are little nuggets all the way through it. At one point, it says the prime purpose of evangelisation is so that the Church can proclaim “and then the very next part of the very same sentence says ‘as the Church remembers that the Church is not in charge, but this is the work of the Holy Spirit’”.
A careful reading will show that there are some very powerful things, said Fr Gittins, “but the typical reader will probably not do a very careful reading because it’s offensive, or highhanded, or condescending in a number of different ways”.

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