Pope Benedict XVI has announced the start of the Year of Faith, a period from October 11, 2012 through November 24, 2013, during which he will call upon Catholics to strengthen their faith and lead by example. During the Year of Faith, which coincides with the 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council, the Pope hopes to reflect on the New Evangelization, a time of personal conversion, sharing of faith, and bringing the gospel message to new audiences.
In his apostolic letter, Pope Benedict wrote that Catholics “will have the opportunity to profess our faith in the risen Lord in our cathedrals and in the churches of the whole world, in our homes and among our families, so that everyone may feel a strong need to know better and to transmit to future generations the faith of all times.”
According to Peter Murphy, executive director of the Secretariat of Evangelization and Catechesis of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), the New Evangelization “begins internally and spreads outward. We are called to deepen our own faith in order to better share it with others.” Murphy said that, in 2000, Pope Benedict, then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, described this “personal conversion” experience as “daring to have faith with the humility of the mustard seed that leaves up to God how and when the tree will grow.”
The Year of Faith begins as the Synod of Bishops meets in Rome. Murphy recounted that Archbishop Charles Chaput, OFM of Philadelphia “recently observed that the most difficult people to evangelize are the ones who think they’ve already been converted.” This church year celebration seems to call upon Catholics to go beyond their own families and churches, to reach out to those who are away from their faith and those who may have no faith at all.
Murphy asserts that the New Evangelization is “meant to counter secular culture.” He states that it “responds to Western society’s ongoing move away from religion by urging Catholics to enthusiastically share Christ in word and through the credible witness of their lives.”
Curtis Martin, founder and president of Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS), said, “The year is designed to rekindle faith for those who have it and for those who may not have a joy about it, and to rekindle a willingness to share the faith.”
Martin said, “Evangelizing doesn’t mean to impose the faith, but to joyfully propose the faith. We’re here to invite others and leave the results to God.”