Cardinal Wuerl’s Three Core Elements of The New Evangelization

Cardinal Donald Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington

We recently heard his eminence Donald Cardinal Wuerl recount the time he received a letter from an elementary student that read, “It’s amazing that you know somebody, who knew somebody, who knew somebody, who knew somebody … (1 page later) … who knew somebody, who knew Jesus.”

Apparently it sometimes takes a young child to explain big words like apostolic succession.

We were there — at the foot of the cross, at the empty tomb, in the upper room. We, as in the Catholic Church, were there. And only the Church can say this. She is the only tangible link to the resurrected Christ that exists today. The Church knows someone, who knew someone, who knew someone … who intimately knew Jesus. This is precisely why the Church matters. She brings us an invitation to Jesus Christ because the Church, his Bride, knows Him like no one else.

New Evangelization Defined

Taking cues from Pope Benedict XVI, Cardinal Wuerl asserts the new evangelization starts with our renewal of a commitment to the Church. This is somewhat different from evangelization, generically. Evangelization brings the Word of God to those who do not yet know anything about Jesus Christ. The New Evangelization brings the Word back to those who have moved away from the Church; the baptized who are not sufficiently evangelized. The new evangelization’s mission then is to re-propose the Gospel to those who think they already know it but so clearly do not.

Three Core Elements of the New Evangelization

During the Christ Our Life Conference, we heard Cardinal Wuerl outline what he sees as the three core elements of the new evangelization. We’ve distilled them here in our own words.

1. Renewal of our own faith.

This has to happen both intellectually and affectively — both in our heads and hearts. Catechesis is essential; we must know what the Church teaches and why. But just knowing the teachings won’t bring us into a relationship with Jesus. We must increase our desire to enter into a deep, intimate, lasting communion with God made flesh.

2. Stand in the Truth.

At the end of the Bread of Life discourse in John 6 when so many of Jesus’ disciples walked away, Jesus asked the Twelve, “Do you also want to leave?” Simon Peter answered, “Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.”

Peter answered for all of us who believe that Jesus is truly present in the Eucharist. The surest way to encounter Jesus is through His Church, in the Eucharist. This is the teaching of our Church. We must stand in that teaching with a fresh confidence to boldly proclaim it, knowing we stand in the truth.

3. Share this Truth with others.

Just as so many of Jesus’ disciples walked away in the Gospel, a similar scene continues to play out in present day. Roughly 20-million Americans who identify themselves as ex-Catholics have effectively abandoned Jesus, most often unknowingly. It is our mission to bring Jesus back to them. Very often, they are friends and family who we know and love deeply. Live the faith at all times because you never know who might be evangelized simply by your presence.

The Cardinal’s message boils down to essentially this: the fullness of Truth subsists in the Catholic Church. In the task of the new evangelization, which is essentially a battle for souls, this knowledge is both our sword and our shield.

You might be thinking this is none too easy. Cardinal Wuerl empathizes, and that’s why he continued on with five keys to effective evangelism. Stay tuned — we’ll highlight those points in a future blogpost!

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  1. Carl says

    Fantastic!!! This is exactly what I need for my Rollo in the next men’s Cursillo in New Hampshire. The subject of it is Study of the Environment, and it is about our human environment.

  2. says

    Hey, this is awesome! Can’t wait for the rest. Cardinal Wuerl is great huh? I love that he said after we renew our own faith we must stand in the truth. That’s the only way we’ll keep that faith isn’t it? That’s the foundation.

  3. wil says

    Sounds good, but very weak in fact. There seems to be a private organization called United States Conference of Catholic Bishops which seems to be against having an individual renewal of his faith, not let one learn more about the faith, or share the truth. Why oh why does USCCB prohibit LOGOS from selling its Catholic bible and catechism software to me?

  4. Dan says

    I’m not sure whether to be amused or saddened by this. Here we have Donald Cardinal Wuerl, protector of the homosexual perversion, persecutor of good priests, toady to the tyrants in the US government, appeaser of every Catholic dissident who comes his way, standing there talking about evangelization. Donald Wuerl is a posturing politician who has done very serious damage to the Church in this country.

    And let us not forget the old adage, very apt in this case, “actions speak louder than words”. Wuerl’s words may be soothing; his actions are quite despicable. If you are going to do a puff piece on a man like this I advise you to do your homework better. Go ahead and praise any good things he may have said, but never shy away from pointing out the hard, sad facts about his governorship of the Church in Washington

    • says

      Dan, your fervent disapproval of Cardinal Wuerl in areas not related to this post is duly noted. We sincerely hope it is matched by the fervor of your prayers for him. Thanks for stopping by and commenting in; peace and blessings to you.


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