It’s such a great joy to see you all here!
I thank God for the grace he has bestowed on this organization. Every year, our meetings get bigger, our vision becomes clearer, and our goals become more ambitious.
These are beautiful signs that we are growing in our maturity and confidence. That we are assuming more responsibility for the direction of our society and more responsibility for the Church’s mission of the new evangelization.
I know some of you were able to join us earlier this month in Los Angeles for the Guadalupe Celebration that the Los Angeles Archdiocese co-sponsored with the Knights of Columbus.
What an amazing event! Tens of thousands came to show their love for Our Lady of Guadalupe. They came to dedicate their hearts to the continental mission of the new evangelization. It was a beautiful and powerful testimony to the faith of people of all cultures and especially our Latino community.
Our Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI, when he visited Mexico earlier this year, reminded us that the Virgin of Tepeyac is “the Star of both the original and the new evangelization” of the Americas.
Friends, our country needs new witnesses to Jesus Christ!
The new evangelization of America is the essential task of the Catholic Church in our time — and it is the duty of every Catholic.
We are the ones who are called to carry the message of Our Lady of Guadalupe to our society today. We are the ones who are called to help Jesus Christ find a new place in the hearts of our neighbors.
The new evangelization is the context for everything we do as Catholics. And it is the context for our gathering this weekend. We come together at an important moment in our country’s history.
Of course, we all know this is an election year. And of course, we are all aware of the threats to our religious liberties.
The mandate that Church employers pay for their employees’ birth control and abortions — is a real threat. The stakes couldn’t be higher.
If this mandate is allowed to stand it will give government powers it has never had before in our nation’s history. It threatens the Church’s ability to carry out her mission. It threatens our ability as Christians to live the way that Jesus wants us to live.
Friends, at this moment in our history, we know that we are also facing threats to the sacred institutions of marriage and the family.
Powerful people and powerful groups are trying to “redefine” marriage and the family. They want us to believe that whether one is a man or a woman is just an “accident” of birth, and not important to whom we really are. They want us to believe that motherhood, fatherhood and marriage aren’t natural realities, but just arbitrary “social constructs.”
This drift in our society has deep pastoral implications for our religious communities and for the Church’s duty to evangelize.
So the theme of this year’s C.A.L.L. convention is timely — and urgent.
The challenges we face in both the political arena and in the cultural arena both reflect an unhealthy secularism that has been growing in our country for many years.
America is becoming a society where religious conviction is a cause for suspicion. Religion is viewed now as something exclusively “private” and “personal.” References to God and to religious values are considered irrelevant to discussions of politics and economics and science and technology. Many of our leaders now assume that our society can be governed without any broadly shared moral consensus or common purpose.
I am more convinced than ever that at this moment we have a duty — as Catholics and as Americans —to lead our society to conversion. By our teaching and by our way of living. This is a time for Catholic voices and Catholic action.
The challenges we face in these times are ultimately questions about our identity. Who are we? What do we believe in? And what do we stand for? These are ultimately questions of our discipleship.
Being a Catholic is more than a private devotion or a philosophy of life. Our faith is a living relationship with Jesus Christ.
Being a Catholic means living with Jesus and living according to his words and example. It means carrying out his commandments — to love and serve God and to tell others about him. It means building up this earthly city in light of God’s Kingdom. It means filling our society with the values of the Gospel — the values of truth, justice, solidarity and freedom.
Friends, each of us has a part to play in the Church’s mission. The continental mission of the new evangelization.
The new evangelization must include a new apologetics. We need to make a new “case” for Jesus Christ and his Catholic Church in our secular culture. This new evangelization is not only a job for bishops, priests and religious. It’s a job for every Catholic.
We need a new generation of lay people who can communicate the joy of knowing Jesus and the power and beauty of the Catholic vision of life and society.
We need Catholic men and women in all walks of life who can open people’s hearts to the love of God and open their minds to the beauty and truth of the Christian message.
Thank you for your attention. I look forward to our conversation this weekend.
I ask that Our Lady of Guadalupe, the Star of the New Evangelization, help us to be better instruments of the love of God and the renewal of our country.