By Anthony Barich
The tide of secularism is turning the other way in Australia thanks in part to the efforts of the Neocatechumenal Way, Cardinal George Pell of Sydney told 40,000 of them the day after the World Youth Day week.
The Archbishop of Sydney praised the movement at Sydney’s the Domain on July 21, saying he believes Australia is ripe for evangelisation.
“Thanks for the contribution that the Way has made to the life of the Church throughout the world,” the prelate said.
“I have already expressed my gratitude so many times for you, especially for your contribution here in Australia, with the priests, with the brothers and sisters, and especially the families in mission. We are very, very grateful for this.
“But there is another particular reason for gratitude. It is the fact that you have passed through every part of Australia before this World Youth Day preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
“In almost all the dioceses of Australia, certainly in all the provinces, you have gone preaching in the streets the person and the teaching of our brother and Redeemer, Jesus Christ.
“Young people in Australia, so many of them, understand very little of religion. But, in many ways, I think that many of them are like Zacchaeus (in the Gospel reading of the day).
They are rich enough, interested in the person of Jesus, and want to hear what we have to say about Jesus, our Redeemer. And they will listen when there are those there who are preaching the gospel.”
The cardinal added that while he visited a number of countries inviting pilgrims to attend WYD08 to reinforce one’s own faith, he invited the Neocatechumenal Way to Australia to “reinforce the faith and goodness of the young in Australia, especially young Catholics of Australia. And you have done exactly that. A thousand thousand thanks”.
He noted that the Neocatechumenal Way has not made as spectacular progress in the English-speaking peoples as it has in other parts of the world, but he believes that the tide is changing. “I think our fellow Catholics are understanding that you are not people with two heads, that you are not a threat, but that you are truly people of the Gospel, followers of Jesus Christ, trying to do his will in our somewhat difficult situation,” he said.
“It’s not the worst of times. It’s not the best of times. But I believe that the finger of God is upon the Neocatechumenal Way, and I believe that the breath of the Spirit is blowing through you.
“I often say this: Jesus didn’t say, ‘There are five or six good and different holiday packages. It doesn’t matter which one you choose. Jesus said: ‘I am the Way, the Truth and the Life. Come, follow me. Because I bring the treasure, the pearl of great price and the treasure hidden in the field.”
“When we know and understand that Jesus does not expect us to live just like people who never really heard or understood his mission – that is the reason for the theme of World Youth Day: ‘When the Holy Spirit comes upon you, you will receive power, and you will be my witness to the ends of the earth’.”