By John Thavis
VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Benedict XVI has chosen “new evangelization” as the theme for the next world Synod of Bishops in 2012.
The pope said the topic reflects a need to re-evangelize in countries where Christian faith and practice have declined, and where people “have even moved away from the church.”
The pope made the announcement at the end of his homily at the closing Mass Oct. 24 for the special Synod of Bishops for the Middle East, which focused on the pastoral challenges of the region. He said that during the October synod, bishops spoke of the “need to offer the Gospel anew to people who do not know it very well.”
“What was often evoked was the need for a new evangelization for the Middle East as well. This was quite a widespread theme, especially in the countries where Christianity has ancient roots,” he said.
The pope said he chose the next synod topic, “The new evangelization for the transmission of the Christian faith,” after consulting with the world’s episcopate. He recently created the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelization, and has made re-evangelizing a main theme of his pontificate.
Pope Benedict has presided over two world synods, one on the Eucharist and one on Scripture, as well as regional synods for Africa and the Middle East. He streamlined the format of these encounters to allow for more exchange of opinion, and has sometimes joined in the discussions.
His apostolic letter on the synod on Scripture, held in 2008, was expected late this year.
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