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Welby gives boost to RC initiative

17 July 2015


Proclaimers: delegates at the conference join in song

Proclaimers: delegates at the conference join in song

THE Archbishop of Canterbury has told Roman Catholic leaders that he will unite with them in praying for the success of their efforts to re-evangelise England and Wales.

Archbishop Welby sent a message to 900 delegates at the Proclaim ’15 National Catholic Evangelisation Conference in Birmingham, telling them that he was “heartened” by the gathering.

“Across every denomination the Holy Spirit is inspiring, provoking, and leading the Church of Jesus Christ to proclaim the Good News in this land,” he said. “We can only do this in the unity, strength, and joy that he gives.”

Writing from the General Synod in York, he promised the conference that “we will join you in prayer for the evangelisation of this country.

“Be assured of my prayers for you this day; that God would empower you that you may know the height, depth, breadth, and width of his love for you, and, inspired by this transforming love, you may be compelled joyfully to share this love with others.”

Building on the conference, the RC Church, through its Proclaim ’15 iniative, intends to establish evangelisation teams in about 5000 churches in England and Wales, in an attempt to transform them into “missionary parishes” (News, 10 July). The conference was inspired by the Apostolic Exhortation of Pope Francis Evangelii Gaudium.

Material from the event will be assembled into an online “legacy document”, which will be made available from 20 September to help evangelisation teams develop their own strategies within their parishes.

Keynote speakers included the Vicar of Holy Trinity, Brompton, the Revd Nicky Gumbel, a founder of the Alpha course, who said that if every Christian put Evangelii Gaudium into practice both Church and nation would be transformed. “We need to reach the lapsed, and help them to understand what Christian faith is really about.”

Another key speaker was the RC Archbishop of Birmingham, the Most Revd Bernard Longley, a member of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization and a co-chairman of the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission.

Archbishop Longley said that the presence of non-RC delegates highlighted “the common concern that we have to shape missionary communities so as to bring Christ into a world that has grown unfamiliar with Christian faith, and therefore suspicious of the values by which Christians try to live.

“It is important that Nicky Gumbel has joined us to share insights and experience from another part of the Christian family.” The new evangelisation would be successful only if the Church herself was holy, he said.

“It is . . . primarily by her conduct and by her life that the Church will evangelise the world: in other words, by her living witness of fidelity to the Lord Jesus — the witness of poverty and detachment, of freedom in the face of the powers of this world; in short, the witness of sanctity.”

Pope Francis also sent a message to the conference, assuring delegates of his prayers. He said: “Your assembly is an important occasion, not only to reflect on programmes of evangelisation, but to rekindle within all the faithful the love and joy which flows from personally encountering the Lord Jesus.”

All five RC archbishops of England and Wales attended the conference, held at the Birmingham Repertory Theatre last Saturday.

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