By Deborah Gyapong, Canadian Catholic News
[OTTAWA – CCN]—Despite the scandals rocking the Church, Catholics must stay united and focused on spreading the Good News Cardinal Gerald Lacroix told the New Evangelization Summit (NES) May 4.
The many storms affecting the Church and the world, especially the storm of clerical sexual abuse pose a challenge to “remain focused without being discouraged by all of the negativity that is in the air,” the Quebec archbishop and Primate of Canada said to the more than 4,000 people gathered in Ottawa and across North America at 56 host sites, including Holy Family Cathedral in Saskatoon and St. Mary’s Parish in Macklin, SK.
The cardinal, quoting Pope Francis and St. Paul, stressed the Church is the Body of Christ with Christ as its head and when one member suffers, we all suffer.
“We are all experiencing the pain of all the abuse,” all of the suffering “some of us disciples of Jesus have caused,” he said.
“We are in this together and we are going to complete the mission together,” he said.
“The Lord saved a people,” the cardinal said. “We are never completely ourselves unless we belong to a people. No one is saved alone. God wanted to enter the life of a people.”
“The vocation of the Church is that of a people entrusted with the mission of proclaiming wholeheartedly the Good News that brings life to the world,” he said. This is both “a personal and a collective responsibility.”
Most peoples’ lives “don’t unfold like long and calm rivers,” but often “trouble litters them” giving “the appearance of a battle ground, he said.
Jesus Christ is “the most real and most faithful companion” we can ever meet “on our human roads,” Cardinal Lacroix said. The only way of engaging “is by gazing on such an attractive figure of Christ” and following Him on “the way of truth and love.”
“Our way of living as Christians demands we act and think as a family, as a community,” he said.
So often, however, “individualism prevails over community,” and people lack the ability to look out for each other, he said.
“Many scandals are sullying the Church’s reputation,” he said, especially the actions of “unfaithful prelates” that have “drawn a flood of criticism.”
Countless victims have been created; many have been prompted to leave the Church. “We can’t harden our hearts,” he said.
Cardinal Lacroix said the news media feeds on scandal and often that leads to people only hearing about what’s wrong. “When you only hear about what’s ugly and wrong, you end up forgetting about the forces of good that are at work in our world,” he said, outlining many signs of hope that are ongoing in the life of the Church.
The news media “can increase an awareness of realities” that “push us out of our comfort zone, he said. “Controversy can become an effective vector of conversion,” he said. “Good lessons can be learned from such events.”
Renewal is possible if evangelization takes priority over maintenance NES – Fr. James Mallon
To continue evangelizing in a broken and suffering world, “the first place to look is to renew your relationship with Jesus, today, tomorrow and every day,” he said. “Examine how you are living that relationship in your family, your parish, your community.”
“No program or strategy can replace that—men and women in a personal relationship with the Lord, who live together and shine with the joy of the Gospel,” he said. “We see God at work wherever we are conveying the message of love and reconciliation.”
Cardinal Lacroix pointed out how Pope Francis stresses the role of Mary as the person who “unwinds knots in conflicting situations.”
“Boy, do we need this help together,” he said.
“Mary makes the duty of holiness accessible,” he said, noting how she teaches us how to transcend our limits, and “supports the transformation of our projects when we call upon her,” the way she helped at the Wedding of Cana when Jesus turned water into wine.
“She is the star of new evangelization,” he said.
“The only way to succeed is by undergoing a true process of conversion,” Cardinal Lacroix said. “We need to rediscover Jesus and his project of salvation,” and “his vision on how we are to live together as a People of God,” to “live, serve, walk and celebrate together on this earth while we are here.”
Michael Dopp, of Mission of the Redeemer Ministries, organizer of the Summit told the gathering he had thought last August when the fresh wave of scandals broke that “we should just stop evangelizing for the next five years.”
“The soil has been poisoned, nobody’s going to want to become Catholic,” he said. “I just find it overwhelmingly sad for the victims, the perpetrators, those who covered it up. People have lost their faith because of it; this wrecking ball has gone through the Church.”
But in praying it occurred to him evangelization is more important now than ever.
“What do we do when our mother is sick?” he asked. “We step up.”
Since the Church is our mother, “we should double down,” Dopp said. “I’m not going to judge the Church by sinners, by those who have failed to live out the Gospel.”
Judge the Church by her saints, not sinners, he said.
“The Church needs saints now more than ever before,” he said.