Pope Launches Effort To Reach Lapsed Catholics

It is no secret that many in the United States, Europe, and other places around the globe that many individuals who were raised as Roman Catholics no longer live the faith of their childhood, and now the Vatican has convened a synod of bishops to discuss what Pope Benedict XVI has called the new evangelization to bring the faith back to those who have left it behind.

The synod, which is a meeting of bishops, convened Sunday and will meet for three weeks to determine a strategy to win back believers, lost to rising secularism, protestant denominations, and general disillusionment with the faith in the wake of sex abuse scandals.

Reuters quoted the Pope, spiritual leader of the world’s more than one billion Catholics, as saying the new evangelization will be geared toward reaching those who were already Catholic but have drifted away, saying it was “directed principally to those who, though baptized, have drifted away from the Church and live without reference to Christian life.”

The Associated Press reports that Benedict, who has long lamented the rise of secularism in former Catholic strongholds like Europe and parts of the US, believes that the dissent in the Church over teachings forbidding gay marriage, not allowing the ordinations of women, and not recognizing divorce stem from a global crisis in marriage.

“There is a clear link between the crisis in faith and the crisis in marriage,” the Pope said.

At an open air mass beginning the synod, Benedict also proclaimed St. John of Avila and the 12th-century German mystic, St. Hildegard of Bingen, as doctors of the Church, a high honor only bestowed upon 33 people in the Church’s 2,000 year history.

The first to be proclaimed doctors of the Church, for the influence on Catholic doctrine, were St. Ambrose, St. Augustine, St. Jerome, and St. Gregory the Great. The last proclaimed before Sunday was St. Therese of Lisieux in 1997.