Charitable works, rites of passage and the cultural mixing produced by globalization all offer opportunities for bringing lapsed Catholics back into the fold, but success in such efforts depends on personal repentance and collective inspiration, U.S. bishops told a Vatican gathering Oct. 9.On the second working day of the world Synod of Bishops on the new evangelization, five U.S. bishops addressed the spiritual conditions and the practical means of reaching out to baptized Catholics who have drifted away from the faith."Globalization presents us with a providential moment for advancing the church's mission of transforming humanity into one family of God," Archbishop José Gomez of Los Angeles told Pope Benedict XVI and the assembly of bishops, religious superiors, official observers and experts in the Vatican's synod hall.However, the archbishop said, the fusion of cultures resulting from the integration of the world economy requires "new methods and new ways to help the men and women of our times to practice their faith.""We need to find the 'language' that best presents the traditional means of sanctification — the sacraments, prayer, works of charity — in a way that is attractive and accessible to people living in the reality of a globalized, secular, urban society," said Archbishop Gomez, who this week issued a pastoral letter on evangelization (see pages A1-A4).Bishop Gerald Kicanas of Tucson called on the synod to "strongly and equivocally affirm that justice and charity are at the heart of evangelization.""Witness touches hearts, witnesses change hearts," he said, offering the examples of Catholics renowned for their charity, including Blessed Teresa of Kolkata, St. Damien and Mother Marianne Cope of Molokai, who will be canonized Oct. 21. Seeing Catholics who imitate such models, Bishop Kicanas said, "people who have never known the church or who have walked away might be moved to say, 'I want to be part of that family that does so much good in the name of the Lord.'"Bishop Joseph Kurtz of Louisville used his allotted time of five minutes to speak about the value of parish activities and observances, particularly the Rite for the Blessing of a Child in the Womb, which he originally proposed in 2008, and which the Vatican approved last December for use in the United States.The ceremony is a "pastoral moment of first evangelization of the child and new evangelization of the family," Bishop Kurtz told the synod, suggesting that it reaffirms a widely contested ethical teaching on abortion while inviting the family to prepare the spiritual life of its newest member. "This sacred gesture is both a positive and hope-filled way to announce to society the great gift of human life as well as a gracious invitation for the parents to begin steps for the baptism of their child, once born," the bishop said.Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York focused on "conversion of heart and repentance" as prerequisites for evangelization."The answer to the question 'What's wrong with the world?' is not politics, the economy, secularism, pollution, global warming — no," he said.Quoting the English Catholic writer G.K. Chesterton, Cardinal Dolan said: "The answer to the question 'What's wrong with the world?' is two words: 'I am.'"Hence the importance of going to confession, a practice that the cardinal said has largely disappeared in recent decades."The sacraments of initiation — baptism, confirmation, the Eucharist — charge, challenge, and equip the agents of evangelization," Cardinal Dolan said. "But the sacrament of reconciliation evangelizes the evangelizers."Archbishop Gustavo Garcia-Siller of San Antonio called for a spiritual transformation of the whole church, which he described as a "church with struggles."In order that "Christians go forward with the new evangelization, we need a new Pentecost," said the archbishop, ordained from St. John’s Seminary in Camarillo in 1984. He proposed to the assembly "that this synod humbly ask the Holy Father to consecrate the world to the Holy Spirit."Pope: Christ is the answer to humanity's questionsTo evangelize means to help people understand that God himself has responded to their questions, and that his response — the gift of salvation in Jesus Christ — is available to them as well, Pope Benedict XVI said."Our role in the new evangelization is to cooperate with God," the pope told the more than 260 cardinals, bishops and priests who are members of the world Synod of Bishops on the new evangelization. "We can only let people know what God has done."In a 21-minute, off-the-cuff reflection during morning prayer at the synod's opening session Oct. 8, Pope Benedict spoke of the importance of prayer in the church's push for a new evangelization, the meaning of evangelization, and sharing the Gospel through both proclamation and charity.The pope examined the use of the word "evangelion," the Greek term that is the root of the English word "evangelization," and which is itself translated as "Gospel." In the Book of Isaiah, he noted, the Hebrew equivalent of the word describes "the voice that announces a victory, that announces goodness, joy and happiness," transmitting the message that "God has not forgotten his people," and that he intervenes with power in history to save them.In the New Testament, the pope said, "evangelion" is the good news of the incarnation of Christ, the coming of God's son into the world to save humanity.For the people of Israel suffering under Roman rule, it was truly good news that God spoke to his people and came to live among them, the pope said. News of Jesus' birth was the answer to those who questioned whether there really was a God; whether he knew his people and the circumstances of their lives; and whether he had any power to change their situation.People today have the same questions, the pope said: "Is God a reality or not? Why is he silent?"When Christians evangelize, they must remember that their "faith has content," and that what they believe and seek to share with others is outlined in the creed, he said. They must use their intelligence to reflect on the tenets of their faith and use their mouths to proclaim it.Because faith isn't an abstract notion, Christians also must live their faith and share it with the world through acts of charity and love, the pope said."Being tepid is the greatest danger for Christians," he said. "We pray that faith becomes like a fire in us and that it will set alight others."The synod formally opened Oct. 7 with a Mass in St. Peter's Square.During his homily, Pope Benedict said that the "church exists to evangelize" by sharing the Gospel with people who have never heard of Christ, strengthening the faith of those who already have been baptized and reaching out to those who "have drifted away from the church.""At various times in history," he said, "divine providence has given birth to a renewed dynamism in the church's evangelizing activity," as happened, for example, with the evangelization of the Americas beginning late in the 15th century."Even in our own times, the Holy Spirit has nurtured in the church a new effort to announce the good news," the pope said.The modern effort to proclaim salvation in Christ to the modern world found "a more universal expression and its most authoritative impulse in the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council," which opened 50 years ago this Oct. 11.The pope said the synod is dedicated to helping people strengthen their faith and to helping those who have drifted away "encounter the Lord, who alone who fills existence with deep meaning and peace; and to favor the rediscovery of the faith, that source of grace which brings joy and hope to personal, family and social life."—CNS{gallery width=100 height=100}gallery/2012/1012/synod/{/gallery}