Well, if you didn’t already know, CDF stands for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. It gives solid answers to Catholics about theological questions. When the CDF speaks, it carries a lot of weight! Oh yeah, it’s names used to be the Inquisition – and I’m sure you’ve heard of that!
Anyhoo, last summer the CDF released a document on the Church and reaffirmed the fact that the one true Church Christ established is found in its fullness in the Catholic Church. Why is this? First of all, the Catholic Church received her authority from Christ, through the Apostles, who gave us the bishops as their successors. Protestants do not have this apostolic succession – which is critical even in being called a “church”. Hence, the Catholic Church’s teachings on Protestantism is that there are no Protestant “churches” but rather “ecclesial communities” – this is because they lack the apostolic aspect of the Church; you can’t be an apostolic church without succeeding the apostles!
Well the new document takes us to the next step: Catholics are called to evangelize by both deed and WORD. Many Catholics use a copout quote of St. Francis (who’d be angered by what these Catholics think he meant): “Always preach the Gospel, sometimes use words.” Logically, St. Francis is saying that at some point, you WILL have to use words – the problem is that most Catholics do not know the words to speak when the time comes. And this isn’t simply a problem of catechetics, it’s also a problem of grace. Jesus was always driven by the Holy Spirit – and we need His help in finding the right words to use when the time comes to speak! People are not math equations and apologetics is not a set of variables; we need the Spirit to help us speak with the power and authority to win souls for Christ, not clever arguments.
So Catholics HAVE to evangelize. This means study and prayer, the two things Catholics have been utterly failing at for the past 40 years. On that note, is should make sense then that this new document was issued by the CDF (which helps us study) in conjunction with Cardinal Arinze, who heads the Church’s liturgy (i.e. worship/corporate prayer).
And to wrap things up, here’s a pointed quote from Cardinal Arinze (who almost became pope, by the way) on Catholics and evangelization:
"Indeed if a Christian did not try to spread the Gospel by sharing the excelling knowledge of Jesus Christ with others, we could suspect that [this] Christian either of lack of total conviction on the faith, or of selfishness and laziness in not wanting to share the full and abundant means of salvation with his fellow human beings."
Okay, one more point: the new document says that faith is just as important as the material goods of the body. For someone to down evangelization they should also down giving food to the poor. Remember, man does not live on bread alone but by every WORD that proceeds from the mouth of God. In the Eucharist we have the bread of life, the very WORD of God in the flesh. If we eat this bread we will live forever. But it has to start with evangelization and conversion.
Get the document!