INTRODUCTION

Theme: "Blessed are you..."

Matthew 5:1-12

“Behold, God makes all things new.” (Rev. 21:5) This was the vision that ignited the flame of the First Philippine Conference on New Evangelization (PCNE I). As a response to the XIII Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops (2012) which focused on The New Evangelization for the Transmission of the Christian Faith, PCNE I set out to initiate a renewed experience of faith and a new fervor to proclaim the gospel in the local and Asian context. During the three days of the conference, the participants marvelled at the manifold ways by which Jesus could be encountered in the richness of the Catholic Faith from the scriptures to popular religiosity. They were treated to a feast of the abundance of God’s presence in the creative and imaginative prayer sessions, in the dialogue of life between the clergy and the laity, between Christians and other traditions, in the edifying liturgies, in the culture and devotions of ordinary people, in the young and in the poor. Their experiences of grace evoked by the pathways to the lived unity of the Church in its diverse components and gifts impelled a desire to respond concretely to the call to become a missionary Church.

In his message for the conference, Pope Francis said, “Don’t get tired of bringing the mercy of the Father to the poor, the sick, the abandoned, the young people, and family. Let Jesus be known in the world of politics, business, arts, science, technology, and social media. Let the Holy Spirit renew the creation and bring forth justice and peace in the Philippines and in the great continent of Asia that is close to my heart.” The challenge of the Holy Father resonated with the desiderata and dreams of the participants for the Church. They asked that we must take steps to foster a more active and leading role of the laity in the transformation of the Church and the society. They called for the promotion of small Christian communities and other faith communities as means of evangelization and to focus on the family as both subject and object of evangelization. They felt the urgent need for a systematic and comprehensive evangelization program and creative involvement of the youth in the life of the church. They wanted to grow in their understanding and appreciation of other religious traditions and reach out with humility to those who have turned to them.

Most of all, they earnestly desired that we become evangelically poor: for the Church to be more sensitive to the plight of the poor, live simple and austere lifestyles, and act in solidarity with the poor. Simplicity of lifestyle is what they expect from their pastors and leaders more than creating projects for the poor. They long for a deeper dialogue of life between the clergy and the poor, a lifestyle that witnesses to poverty in the manner of the poor Christ. This clamor to be a church of the poor sadly reminds us that not much has changed since the Second Plenary Council of the Philippines (PCP II) which firmly proposed it almost twenty-four years ago.

Nevertheless, the Second Philippine Conference on New Evangelization (PCNE II) aspires to respond to the challenges posed by PCNE I. Taking the cue once again from the voice of Pope Francis, PCNE II seeks to reflect on The Beatitudes of Matthew 5 and the radical revolution it demands. Pope Francis chose the same theme for the celebration of the World Youth Days beginning this year to 2016 in Krakow. In line with the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines’ declaration of 2014 as the Year of the Laity and 2015 as the Year of the Poor, PCNE II seeks to deepen our appreciation of the beatitudes in relation to our struggles with inequality and poverty. The apostolic visit of Pope Francis to the Philippines this January 2015 with the theme of “mercy and compassion” all the more highlights the need to understand these cherished ideals of Jesus.

Phases Conclusion

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