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Benedict XVI: ‘Being tepid is the greatest danger for Christians’

By on Monday, 8 October 2012

Pope Benedict XVI celebrated Mass to open the synod yesterday (Photo: CNS)

Pope Benedict XVI celebrated Mass to open the synod yesterday (Photo: CNS)

Pope Benedict XVI has said that to evangelise 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.

“Our role in the new evangelisation is to cooperate with God,” the Pope told more than 260 cardinals, bishops and priests who are members of the world Synod of Bishops on the new evangelisation. “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 today, Pope Benedict spoke of the importance of prayer in the Church’s push for a new evangelisation, the meaning of evangelisation, 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 “evangelisation”, 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’s 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 evangelise, 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 on yesterday with a Mass in St Peter’s Square.

During his homily, Pope Benedict said that the “Church exists to evangelise” by sharing the Gospel with people who have never heard of Christ, strengthening the faith of those who already have been baptised 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 evangelising activity”, as happened, for example, with the evangelisation 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 on Thursday, October 11.

The Pope said the synod was 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 favour the rediscovery of the faith, that source of grace which brings joy and hope to personal, family and social life”.

  • Cafeteria RC

    The time is at hand for a new pope of the likes of Pope John XXIII and then Vatican III to bring new correct needed changes bearing in mind the words of the good holy honest Cardinal Martini. The current RCC needs to get away from their pompous ways and to aggiornaments account most can see through this RCC administration. One of many, a cafeteria RC which most RCs are in the western world.

  • JabbaPapa

    FFS that’s the direct opposite of what’s needed !!!!

    You are a heretic and apostate.

  • nytor

    Oh do stop it. You have this on file somewhere and cut and paste!

  • scary goat

     Ummmmm……not really….no.  I love this Pope.  So do most of my friends, including the ones who also loved John XXIII.  Times change, and if things are not going well, what we don’t need is more of the same. Time for a stock take.  In case you hadn’t noticed, it’s the western world which is going under with social problems…….and it’s the cafeteria crowd who seem to want more of the same, and more. 

  • EndTimes101

    Apparently the Catholic Herald does irony. On the front page of the website we have this article and it’s good and clear advice from our Pope – to avoid being tepid and to be bold and clear with the truth. Then on the opposite side in the Comments and Blogs section we have a so called Pro-lifer whining about losing our reputation by showing real Abortion pictures.
    It kind of sums up the division in the Church really. Those that follow the Holy Father, and those that think they know better……

  • Benedict Carter

    Exactly my thought!

    The kind of people who have been wittering on for the past fifty years about why evangelisation doesn’t actually involve talking about the Faith at all. 

    Useless creatures.

  • Benedict Carter

    I hope your Vatican III will provide Remedial English classes. 

  • Hermit

    I think we all agree about the need of evangelisation.
    The problem is how. Different people come out with different ways and means on how to evangelise those who are mostly in need of being evangelised. (Of course, all of us need to meditate on the Word of God.) 
    Prayer and penance must always accompany any form of evangelisation. St John Marie Vianney, the Curate of Ars, speaks clearly of the need of prayer and penance to reap the fruit of peaching. He used to pray and weep a whole night but his prayers and weeping were not in vain.
    Then there are different forms of evangelisation, today the internet is at the forefront. We can think of other forms of evangelisation but what is needed is that we do everything under obedience to the Church authorities. God blesses our work, our apostolate, if we do it humbly under obedience.
    I would like to mention here the importance of God’s grace in conversions. God can do in a second what we cannot do in one year. His grace is sweet, gentle and powerful. He knows how to convert and when he wanted he brought about even mass conversions. So we need to rely mostly on God’s infinite love for us and his help in all our apostolate.
    Lastly, I would like to say that there are many who convert at the last second of their lives. But there are others who reject God’s grace also at this final second and tell God that they want to go to hell.
    Let us all do our best and God will surely do the rest!

  • Nat_ons

    Understanding your opponent – particularly if he is one’s enemy – is not a waste of time. This is especially true where the opposition comes chiefly from within a group of well-meaning souls, and the answer to its difficulty also. 

    Sadly, this sort of gainsaying Me-Focused-Culture and its view of the world – image consciousness, superficial gloss, political correctness – prevails even among Christians; yet its infantile sensitivity has a healthy basis, sensitivity, but needs to grown out of a petty self-awareness .. or calcify into a mere youf-kultcha-innit.

    Graphic images of the Armenian Exile, or the Nazi Concentration Camps, or the recent Water-Boarding torture techniques of modern Security Intelligence, were and are disturbing. They can be counter-productive in politically sensitive terms – yet necessary, nonetheless, to witnessing certain disturbing truths about man.

  • Benedict Carter

    Good post.

  • Gildaswiseman

    I need new spectacles! I have just clicked ‘like’ instead of reply to your incoherent sentences.
    What I have understood from your post is that you wish to have the kind of Catholicism as taught by Cardinal Martini.You also advocate a Vatican 111 so that the Church can ‘correctly change’ 
    Why do I think what you propose is more of the same modernist, progressive and liberal doctrine that has caused the Bark of Peter to sink ever deeper into the tidal wave of its auto-destruction. What we truly need as a successor of Pope Benedict, is a saintly Pope in the same vein as Gregory the Great or Pius X to bring Holy Mother Church back to Traditional orthodoxy and confident clarity. As for pompous, I wish to goodness that Pope Paul VI had not given the Papal tiara away.

  • Cestius

    The Pope is absolutely right.  The secular world would love nothing more than the Catholic Church to be the modern equivalent of the church of Laodicea, timid, tame, unchallenging, neither hot nor cold.  And other churches have gone down that road. It leads nowhere.

  • Peter

     “ isn’t an abstract notion, Christians also must live their faith and share it with the world through acts of charity and love..”

    The strongest form of Christian evangelisation is charity to the poor of the world, and the most effective way to get it to the poor is via the Church which lives among them.

    In this way the Church contains within itself – as provided by the Holy Spirit – the means by which to spread the Gospel.

    Christians spread the Good News by giving to the poor through the Church.  

    The Church revitalises the poor, revitalises the ignorant, revitalises the benefactors and revitalises itself, all at the same time.  That is the marvel of the Holy Spirit.

  • Matt Briggs

    ‘I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot. So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth.’

  • Matt Briggs


  • Cafeteria RC

    Matt, you might as well do the same with the greater percent of RCs in the western world account they are tepid on the teachings of the RCC. Just take birth control. The my way or no way just does not work at this day of age compared to the past. Time to take inventory Matt and ask why are RCs views have changed in many cases. God bless.

  • Peter

    The greatest tepidity of all is indifference towards the seriously poor, neither to hate them nor to love them, but simply to ignore them, and go about one’s life pretending to be a good Christian by obeying all the rules.

  • JabbaPapa

    … there is nothing so tepid as your taste in coffee.

  • JabbaPapa

    I am seriously poor, and I find your comments to be utterly objectionable.

  • Lazylyn

    You know , I love this Pope !  If only people would take notice of what he says !  He is telling us that we should have a relationship with a Person – the Son of God. We have a Mother who loves us and points to Her Son. We have allies in the Communion of Saints. They are cheering us on !  The depth and breath of the Catholic Church is amazing.  Just  get to know it – read the Catechism. Jump in as you would a swimming pool. The water is warm !

  • Antoinettev

    The problem with the modern world it judges a need for evangelization at economic levels when the truth of the matter is wealth brings spiritual poverty, individualism and pride which in turn leads to rejection of the Love and Mercy of God. Evangelization needs to begin with me, you and our neighbour ; not in a far off distant country which is apparently in need of your help. We all need to look at ourselves and improve our personal relationship with God and in turn with our nearest and dearest. Preach the Gospel….use words if necessary.

  • Sweetjae

    Here are the facts you requested cited directly from Webster Dictionary and World Atlas:

    “Church membership in 2007 was 1.131 billion people;[180] an increase over the 1950 figure of 437 million[181] and the 1970 figure of 654 million.[182] The Catholic population increase of 139% outpaced the world population increase of 117% from 1950-2000.[181] It is the largest Christian church, and encompasses over half of all Christians, one sixth of the world’s population, the largest organized body of any world religion.[7][183] It is known for its ability to use its transnational ties and organizational strength to bring significant resources to needy situations[184] and operates the world’s largest non-governmental school system.[185] Although the number of practicing Catholics worldwide is not reliably known,[186] membership is growing particularly in Africa and Asia.[6]”

    So Benedict do you still think I made the numbers? Google it draw you.

  • MCarroll

     Excellent post!

  • scary goat

     By the way, for anyone who clicks “like” by mistake, you can un-do it by clicking like again as long as you haven’t gone off the page. 

  • Sweetjae

    It was because you are intentionally closing your eyes! For 2,000 years of evangelization the Church has only 437 million in 1950, today after just 50 years of VII the Church has 1.3 BILLION, triple the size IN JUST 50 YEARS!!… is that to your face, Benedict?

  • Nesbyth

    And Jesus also said “I am come that they might have life and have it more abundantly”.However, for those who are “neither hot nor cold”  they would have to change their ways and desire this offered life.

    But is “Joe Public”  interested about inheriting the Kingdom of Heaven?

    Clive Bell ( d. 1964)  put it rather succinctly when he wrote about those who escape from living life on anything but the ordinary level:
     “For the common man, the common round, the daily task, a good deal of whisky, regular unemotional sensuality at fixed intervals leading on to premature imbecility and an unearned grave. The normal man escapes from life by never living intensely.” 
    He wasn’t speaking theologically of course, but for such as these and all their Catholic equivalents, (including those who pick and choose when to go to Mass, whether or not to follow Christ’s teachings through His Church), the Kingdom of Heaven seems a questionable destination.

  • Lukewarm9901453

    “Come, Holy Ghost, fill the hearts of Thy faithful, and enkindle in them the fire of Thy love. Send forth Thy Spirit, and they shall be created, and Thou shalt renew the face of the earth.”

  • Lukewarm9901453

    “So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.” (Rev 3:16)

  • Benedict Carter

    a)  I think your figures are nonsense – the 1950 figure i have seen elsewhere at 800 million;

    b)  whatever the figure is, it has not even kept up with the growth in the world’s population;

    c)  if you want to talk about any effect of Vatican II, you will need a 1965 figure, not a 1950 number!

    Thought your “language is mathematics” as you claimed in a recent thread?