While the Catholic Church’s position in the world has altered, its evangelistic mission “does not change with the culture, or politics, or the spirit of the age,” Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles reminded his fellow bishops Nov. 16 at their fall assembly.
“Again and again, the Holy Father reminds us: The Church exists to evangelize. There is no other reason for the Church. To be a Christian is to be a missionary disciple. There is no other definition,” said Archbishop Gomez, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
“The Church’s position in society has changed. We cannot count on numbers or our influence in society. None of that ever really mattered anyway,” he said. “We are here to save souls. And Jesus promised us that if we seek his Kingdom first, everything we need will be given to us.”
Archbishop Gomez’s reflections came as the U.S. bishops were poised to act Tuesday and Wednesday on an agenda that includes a vote on new document aimed at clarifying and reinvigorating the Church’s teaching on the Eucharist.
Archbishop Gomez only obliquely alluded to disagreements among the bishops surrounding that document, among other contentious issues, instead referring more generally to differing approaches of how best to engage a “highly secularized” American society.
“What is the best way to help our people to live and work and minister as Catholics in this moment? How can we help our people to raise their children and engage with their neighbors and the culture? As a Church, how should we evangelize and go about the task of striving for justice and the renewal of our society?” Archbishop Gomez asked.
“Many of the differences that we see in the Church these days are rooted in the different points of view that we have over how the Church should answer these basic questions,” he said.
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