Written by Sherry
Thursday, 26 April 2007 06:57
Carl Olsen over at Ignatius Insight has a really interesting interview with Russell Shaw about his new book (with Fr. C. John McCloskey, III) Good New, Bad News: Evangelization, Conversion, and the Crisis of Faith.
In light of the continual hubbub around here over things "evangelical," I appreciate Shaw's comments:
IgnatiusInsight.com: It's fair to say, I think, that most people do not usually put the words "Catholics" and "evangelization" together. Why is that so?
Russell Shaw: The conventional answer is that it's a problem of language. Protestants talk about evangelization. Some Protestants are evangelicals. Until recently, these have been Protestant words. They didn't seem to have much to do with Catholics.
That explanation is correct, I think, but the problem also goes deeper than that. It's clericalism at work. By that, I mean the assumption--on the part of lay people, mind you--that if any evangelizing was going to be done by Catholics, it was the job of priests and religious. It wasn't something that the Catholic laity needed to be concerned about.
IgnatiusInsight.com: You're written much about the role of the laity over the years. Where do you think evangelizing ranks, so to speak, in the work that laity are called to do in the greater context of the Church?
Russell Shaw: It ranks right up at the top. It's often been said--for example, by recent popes like Paul VI and John Paul II--that the mission of the Church is synonymous with evangelization. In other words, announcing the Good News, telling the world about Jesus Christ and how he has redeemed us, and encouraging people to have a living relationship with him.
Now, as a result of baptism and confirmation, all members of the Church--including the laity--have roles to play in the Church's mission. All of us--including us laity--are called to participate in the work of evangelization. It isn't optional. It's a central part of the Christian vocation."
Russell Shaw is one of the best popular writers on the whole subject of the theology of the laity and the lay apostolate around. We strongly recommend reading Catholic Laity in the Mission of the Church. if you'd like to understand the Church 's teaching on that subject.