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John Paul II

While the NE is a doctrine and set of ideas that was put forward by John Paul II in the early 1990's, the roots of this belong in the establishment of the Second Vatican Council (1962) and in documents like the LUMEN GENTIUM (1964)[1]. In the broadest terms, it can be said that the Second Vatican Council or Vatican II was the Catholic Church's attempt to adapt and assimilate some of modernity or modernism. For instance, one of the changes or transformations that most Catholics are likely aware of, is that Mass is no longer required to be in Latin. The significance of this historically is rather rich. The very Reformation which split the Catholic Church in the Sixteen Century, partially happened because of a new movement to bring the Bible into the vernacular or to the language of the people [2]. And, while the Bible had made it into the languages that common people spoke many centuries earlier, Mass continued to be conducted in Latin until 1962: "Since these duties, so very necessary to the life of the Church, can be fulfilled only with difficulty in many regions in accordance with the discipline of the Latin Church as it exists today" [3]. Another aspect of the NE that is both central, and which has its roots in Vatican II and the the Lumen Gentium, is the incorporation of lay individuals into the body and mission of the Church. That is, viewing lay people as not just the object of being converted or taught, but as valuable members of the community who have a contribution to make in spreading the word, so to speak: "every layman, in virtue of the very gifts bestowed upon him, is at the same time a witness and a living instrument of the mission of the Church itself 'according to the measure of Christ's bestowal'" [4]. Compare this remark with what John Paul II says about the NE: Today, in particular, the pressing pastoral task of the new evangelization calls for involvement of the entire people of God, and requires a new fervor, new methods and a new expression for the announcing and witnessing of the gospel [5]. The first important and general dimension of the NE, and as it relates to changes in the Catholic Church since the early 1960's, is the inclusiveness, and a less hierarchal approach to the ministry of the Church. However, where Vatican II and the Lumen Gentium are a way of accommodating or assimilating modernism to some extent, the NE as established by John Paul II is succinct insofar as it can be said to be a set of ideas that is actually reactionary modernism or modernization. By reactionary, it is not implied in terms of having as its object Catholic doctrine, rather, society itself. One of the concerns of the NE, is increased secularization, a decrease in the basic lay understanding of the tenets of Christianity, and Catholic Catechism. As John Paul II's assistant states on the subject of his concern with secularization in Western Europe that it was "gradually drifting further and further from its roots and so from its history and culture" [6]. This is a perspective about secularization, according to one of John Paul's biographer's that began in the post-war period of the late 1940's and early 1950's, and as far back as then he viewed: "new forms of pastoral activity open to a broader participation by the laity" [7]. Although there is a lot in common between the ...Show more


Pope John Paul II was very much a person of reform. The following will look at one area of his progressive ideas which is known as the 'new evangelization' (NE). It will be argued in the following that the goal of this was to incorporate some of the ideas of the growing Evangelical movement in Christianity, and to widen the appeal of the Church as a consequence…
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