What the church needs now: Synod gives clues to priorities

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — One task facing the College of Cardinals already has been completed: A job description for the Catholic Church’s chief evangelizer already is written.

He must be humble, but firmly grounded in church teaching; joyful and enthusiastic; willing to listen to and dialogue with others; and courageous in defending human rights, including the right to freedom of religion.

Before the cardinals enter the Sistine Chapel to begin voting for a successor to Pope Benedict XVI, they will hold meetings in the Vatican synod hall to discuss the current needs of the church. Many of them sat in the same room for three weeks in October discussing the same thing, so they won’t be starting from scratch.

Cardinal Angelo Sodano, dean of the College of Cardinals, and 52 of the 117 cardinals who are under the age of 80 and eligible to vote for a new pope participated in the Synod of Bishops on the new evangelization. While emphases may change when the cardinals meet after Feb. 28, it is unlikely they will try to reinvent the wheel and almost impossible that they will come up with a new topic for discussion.

The synod discussions covered the most crucial issues facing the church around the world: proclaiming the Gospel; catechesis; the meaning and role of the family; parish life; the role of new movements; liturgy and the sacraments; the clerical sexual abuse crisis; relations with other Christians; dialogue with other religions; challenges to religious freedom; the message of the Second Vatican Council; the challenges and opportunities raised by science and technology; and dialogue with nonbelievers.

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