Ubicumque et Semper ‘Always and Everywhere’: a new evangelisation of Europe


Benedict XVI's coat of arms


Pope Benedict XVI has issued an apostolic letter (or motu proprio)  in which he establishes a new Vatican office to be know as the ‘Pontifical Council for the New Evangelization’. The intention is to establish a focus for work concentrated on reviving the Catholic Church and preaching the gospel in Europe.

Critics immediately jumped on the fact that the letter had only been released in Latin and Italian. Archbishop Rino Fisichella, President of the new office, hopes to have various language sections working in the office and expects the Apostolic Letter to be available in a variety of languages within a reasonable period of time.

The Vatican Radio website reports that ‘the new office ‘will work with local bishops to propose Church teaching, employing modern communications tools and methods for the promotion of the Church’s message, and will mobilize missionary activities using members of religious orders and new religious movements.’

Evangelical assessments of this recent development will no doubt be many and varied. Benedict’s recent 4-day visit to Britain in September was judged by some to have provided a necessary platform from which to frame the need for a robust Christian response to the secularisation of Europe (see Vista No. 3). Others will fear that renewed attention to strengthening the Roman Catholic Church in Europe will have a detrimental impact on non-Catholics. The creation of the new Pontifical Council reflects Benedict’s concern that the Roman Catholic Church must maintain its European heartlands if its claims to be a universal Church are to remain credible, especially in light of warmer relations with the Orthodox Churches.

Unofficial translations of the text in English have begun circulating on the internet, and one such copy is available for download by clicking here.

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6 Comments on “Ubicumque et Semper ‘Always and Everywhere’: a new evangelisation of Europe”

  1. godschool Says:

    I would be more impressed if he had issued an apostolic letter and set up a new office to spearhead multi-confessional evangelistic initiatives.

  2. Stephen Says:

    Er I think you’ll find that is exactly what the document says!!!

    Official translation available here


  3. Stephen, thanks for the link to the official translation.

  4. Stephen, in light of your comment to godschool, how do you understand this quote from the text of the Letter?

    “On the other hand, in other regions or nations many vital traditions of piety and popular forms of Christian religion are still conserved; but today this moral and spiritual patrimony runs the risk of being dispersed under the impact of a multiplicity of processes, including secularization and the spread of sects. Only a re-evangelization can assure the growth of a clear and deep faith, and serve to make these traditions a force for authentic freedom.

    • Stephen Says:

      I think the text makes a fair assessment of the de-Christianising process – all families within that tribe.
      What the text calls for is a re-evangelisation that will be lethal to nominalism, that will produce convinced, committed Christians, who’s faith has a transformative holistic dimension.
      I can’t find anything to fault in that analysis, nor in that goal.

      • Stephen, thanks for this, and few would dispute your analysis of the text’s treatment of secularisation and nominal faith. Excellent!

        However, I wonder how I should properly understand ‘vital traditions of piety and popular forms of Christian religion’. Are these non-Roman Catholic traditions and forms (parallel to the ‘ecclesial communities of the west’ language that Benedict used following his election) or are they Roman Catholic traditions and forms? And, in either case, does ‘the spread of sects’ refer to trinitarian or non-trinitarian groups. Greater clarity of expression would ease any lingering suspicion that what is of more importance is what the text is not saying rather than what it is saying.

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