Today I will be hosting a book table at the 2012 Catechetical Conference here in Grand Rapids. One book that I’m bringing with me is Ralph Smith’s Will Many Be Saved?. I’ve said before how much I really enjoyed this book. Early in the book Smith provides this quote from Avery Dulles who wrote frequently on Vatican II and its focus on evangelization. I think it’s excellent.
“In my judgment the evangelical turn in the ecclesial vision of Popes Paul VI and John Paul II is one of the most surprising and important developments in the Catholic Church since Vatican II. . . . All of this constitutes a remarkable shift in the Catholic tradition . . . today we seem to be witnessing the birth of a new Catholicism that, without loss of its institutional, sacramental, and social dimensions, is authentically evangelical. . . . Catholic spirituality at its best has always promoted a deep personal relationship with Christ. In evangelizing we are required to raise our eyes to him and to transcend all ecclesiocentrism. The Church is of importance but is not self-enclosed. It is a means of drawing the whole world into union with God through Jesus Christ. . . . Too many Catholics of our day seem never to have encountered Christ. They know a certain amount about him from the teaching of the Church, but they lack direct personal familiarity. . . . The first and highest priority is for the Church to proclaim the good news concerning Jesus Christ as a joyful message to all the world. Only if the Church is faithful to its evangelical mission can it hope to make its distinctive contribution in the social, political, and cultural spheres.” (2-3)
I’ve not read much by Dulles but I was impressed with this paragraph. Just a reminder, Ralph Smith will be giving a talk at Aquinas College this coming Monday. See here for details.