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John Paul II: "What is needed is a 'new evangelization' or a 're-evangelization'"

Evangelization is defined "in terms of proclaiming Christ to those who do not know Him, of preaching, of catechesis, of conferring Baptism and the other sacraments," by Bl. Pope Paul VI in paragraph 17 of his 1975 apostolic exhortation, Evangelii Nuntiandi (EN). Paul VI stressed in EN the necessity of including each of these elements:

Any partial and fragmentary definition which attempts to render the reality of evangelization in all its richness, complexity and dynamism does so only at the risk of impoverishing it and even of distorting it. It is impossible to grasp the concept of evangelization unless one tries to keep in view all its essential elements.

Paul VI further emphasized that Christ gave the mandate of evangelization to the Catholic Church and evangelization is not effective apart from Her. In paragraph 16 of EN he writes, "This mandate is not accomplished without her, and still less against her." He sorrowfully recalls those "well-intentioned" but "certainly misguided" people who are "continually claiming to love Christ but without the Church, to listen to Christ but not the Church, to belong to Christ but outside the Church." He adds, "The absurdity of this dichotomy is clearly evident in this phrase of the Gospel: 'Anyone who rejects you rejects me.'"

Paul VI also summed up evangelization as the use of divine truths for the purpose of making converts. "[T]he best way of stating it would be to say that the Church evangelizes when she seeks to convert, solely through the divine power of the message she proclaims," said the pope. This is different from proselytizing, which seeks to make converts by using unfair or unscrupulous means of coercion.

Pope St. John Paul II in his 1990 encyclical Redemptoris Missio coined the phrase "New Evangelization" in describing the way to revert lapsed Catholics, writing that "entire groups of the baptized have lost a living sense of the Faith or even no longer consider themselves members of the Church. ... In this case, what is needed is a 'new evangelization' or a 're-evangelization.'"

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Bradley Eli, M.Div., Ma.Th. is a staff writer for ChurchMilitant.com.

Follow Bradley on Twitter: @BradleyLEli