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Fr. Carl Chudy, SX

The Changing Religious Lan s!a"e A survey by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life details American religious affiliation and explores the diverse and extremely fluid shifts taking place in its religious landscape. More than one-quarter of American adults (2 !" have left the faith in #hich they #ere raised in favor of another religion -- or no religion at all. 1 $oman %atholics& #ho are fe#er than 'rotestants& have experienced the greatest loss. (hile nearly one-inthree Americans ()1!" #ere raised as %atholics& today fe#er than one-in-four (2*!" describe themselves as %atholic. +he young adult generation& #ho are departing in the greatest numbers& see themselves as ,spiritual- (not affiliated #ith organi.ed religion"& rather than ,religious- (affiliated #ith the %hurch". +he attack on the (orld +rade %enter in /e# 0ork %ity on 12112 2331 propelled 4am 5arris& a young philosopher and student of neuroscience& to devise a solution to the #orld#ide problem of terrorism. +olerance and compassion do not #ork for him as he sees tolerance of faith as the ma6or cause of the problem. 7n his bestselling books8 The End of Faith and Letter to a Chri tian !ation&2 he says #e can rid the #orld of faith by reason and the spread of science. 9ther influential atheist #riters are $ichard :a#kins and %hristopher 5itchens. +hose #ho consider themselves atheist are numerically small in the ;4A but their s#ay is felt on many levels as the ,ne# atheism- takes root in many hearts. +heir potent political agenda is finding support in groups like the Freedom from Religion Foundation" #hich upholds that social and moral progress has been brought about by persons free from religion< and #hich pays for advertising encouraging people to leave their churches& mosques and synagogues. +he departures from the %hurch and the ,ne# atheism- demonstrate& in a poignant #ay& the shifting religious landscape #hich has been felt deeply in %atholic churches. +he sexual abuse cases of priests& brothers and the perceived cover-up by bishops also helped to diminish the credibility of the %hurch as an institution. 5o#ever& there are signs of hope. 7n the last t#elve years six million people #ere added to %atholics ranks in the ;4A. %atholics #ho attend mass regularly are about 22!& * nearly rivaling the number of members regularly attending evangelical 'rotestant churches and far exceeding mainline 'rotestant churches=.> 5o#ever& the shifting religious climate and its impact on the mission of the church is a po#erful motivation to #elcome the challenge of developing a ,ne# evangeli.ation- that seeks to revitali.e the %hurch and its mission today both in and from the ;nited 4tates. The Mission o# $he A%e&i!as

+he 'e# $esearch %enter runs the 'e# ?orum on $eligion and 'ublic @ife. 9n ?ebruary 2>& 233 & the ;4 $eligious @andscape 4urvey #as done in intervie#s #ith )>&333 Americans& 1 years old and older. +he results may be found at8 http822pe#research.org2pubs2A*)2united-states-religion 7nternet maps and graphics of the study can be found at8 2 5aught& Bohn ?. Cod and the /e# Atheism8 A %ritical $esponse to :a#kins& 5arris& and 5itchens. (estminster Bohn Dnox 'ress& @ouisville E @ondon& 233 . p. 2. ) +he #ebsite may be found at8 http822ffrf.org2 * %hurch statistics from the %enter for Applied $esearch in the Apostolate8 http822cara.georgeto#n.edu2%A$A4ervices2requestedchurchstats.html > +he 'e# $esearch %enter& http822pe#research.org2pubs2A*)2united-states-religion

2 +he concern of the ne# evangeli.ation in both /orth and 4outh America #as expressed in the Apostolic Fxhortation& Eccle ia in #merica& #hich follo#ed a special assembly for America by the 4ynod of Gishops in $ome in 111A. 4pecial emphasis #as placed on ne# paths of rene#al in continuity #ith the Bubilee 0ear of 2333 and the >33th anniversary of evangeli.ation in the Americas. 7n Eccle ia in #merica Glessed Bohn 'aul 77 holds the principle that a common spiritual origin and spiritual destiny unite the people of /orth and 4outh America< this unity is signified by the cross of %olumbus and the apparition at Cuadalupe. +he Fxhortation probes the meaning of this origin and destiny to better explain the ne# evangeli.ation of the ne# millennium. All of this begins #ith the ,encounter #ith the @iving %hrist in America today.-H +he profundity of this meeting #ith the @ord Besus #ells up a deep and ardent desire to share %hrist #ith others& something also called ImissionJ or Ievangeli.ation.J 5e affirms8 ,An encounter #ith the @ord brings about a profound transformation in all #ho do not close themselves off from him. +he first impulse coming from this transformation is to communicate to others the richness discovered in the experience of the encounter. +his does not mean simply teaching #hat #e have come to kno# but also& like the 4amaritan #oman& enabling others to encounter Besus personally8 ,%ome and see=- (Bn *821".-A +he final chapter offers the crucial consequences of this meeting #ith Besus in the consideration of the mission to the Americas today. 7t is here #here the concern of evangeli.ation is brought to bear on the many cultures that comprise this continent #here ,a split bet#een the Cospel and culture is the drama of our times.- Dey areas in this American mission involve centers of education& the use of mass media& and the challenge of sects. 5o#ever& he leaves the most urgent concerns for this mission to #hat Katican 77 called the ,missio ad gentes- of the %hurch. 5e states8-=the name of Besus is unkno#n to a vast part of humanity and in many sectors of American society. 7t is enough to think of the indigenous peoples not yet %hristiani.ed or of the presence of non-%hristian religions such as 7slam& Guddhism or 5induism& especially among immigrants from Asia.-1 Wea'ening $he Ne( E)angeli*a$ion 7t is not the humanity #ho does not kno# %hrist in far-a#ay lands from the borders of the Americas that prompts this mission& but it is #ithin the Americas themselves #here the urgent #ork of the first proclamation begins. +he challenges of the ne# evangeli.ation are not restricted only to rene# the faith of those already %hristian& but must also be directed to outreach to our non-%hristian neighbors. 0et& in the ;nited 4tates %atholic GishopsJ document& $i ci%le Called to &itne ' The !ew E(angeli)ation*+, the mi io ad gente is strikingly absent& as #ell as the role of religious and missionaries. +he inconsistency in #hat is universally understood as the main challenges of the ne# evangeli.ation and #hat is actually playing out in many dioceses of the ;nited 4tates continues to undervalue the essential challenge of the first proclamation of %hrist

%hapter 77 offers a meditation the Fncounter of %hrist in America through some key experiences and realities8 AmericaJs %hristian identity& the fruits of holiness& popular piety& the Fastern %atholic presence& the %hurchJs outreach in education and social services& gro#ing respect for human rights& and the gro#ing phenomenon of globali.ation and urbani.ation& the burden of external debt& drug trade and ecological concerns. A Fcclesia in America& H Apostolic Fxhortation E(angelii !untiandi (:ecember & 11A>"& 238 AA4 H (11AH"& 11. 1 Fcclesia in America& A* 13 http822###.usccb.org2beliefs-and-teachings2ho#-#e-teach2ne#-evangeli.ation2upload2:isciples%alled-+o-(itness-+he-/e#-Fvangeli.ation.pdf

) to those #ho do not kno# him& and thus #eaken the ne# evangeli.ation at the outset. +he failure to integrate mi io ad gente in the ne# evangeli.ation #ill only undermine the efforts of the ne# evangeli.ation. +he role of missionary institutes is clear. (e need to collaborate #ith one another and provide the needed resources to bishops& priests and lay leadership as each diocese clarifies its strategies to include all aspects of mission8 the first proclamation& pastoral care of the faithful& and the ne# evangeli.ation. 7n doing so& #e assist the %hurch in the ;nited 4tates to o#n and value the first proclamation as essential to its mission and to embrace an organic and holistic understanding of the ne# evangeli.ation.

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