Pastoral Plan 2016-2020 of the EEC. To put the Church in a state of mission

The bishops want to take advantage of the new Pastoral Plan of the Spanish Episcopal Conference to put the Church in a permanent state of mission.

Enrique Carlier-January 27, 2016-Reading time: 3 minutes

Through the new Pastoral Plan that the Spanish Episcopal Conference (CEE) has adopted, which is explained in a text entitled "Church in mission at the service of our people", the Spanish bishops are going to promote in the next five years (2016-2020) an authentic and permanent missionary transformation of the Church in Spain. They also want the CEE to be an instrument for the particular Churches of Spain to become the "Church in going out" proposed by Pope Francis in his Apostolic Exhortation "The Church in going out". Evangelii gaudium. For this reason, the Spanish episcopate has decided that the EEC, this organ of communion and coordination of the bishops of the Spanish ecclesiastical region, will undergo a kind of MOT or missionary review in 2016 - precisely when it celebrates 50 years of existence.

Archbishop Juan José Omella, Archbishop-elect of Barcelona, insisted in the presentation of the new Pastoral Plan that it is about "to take the Church in Spain, to give it the evangelizing impulse that the Pope wants and to put it in a permanent state of mission.". He also warned that the objective "was not to design the EEC's strategy to try to impose Catholicism on our society." but "to share with all the joy of the Gospel".

A compassionate look at reality

The first part of the Plan's presentation text describes the most widespread mentality in Spanish society today. There the bishops offer a quite realistic and crude diagnosis of the socio-cultural situation in Spain. They highlight as the most characteristic features the low social valuation of religion; the exaltation of freedom and material well-being above all else; the predominance of a secularist culture, which is reflected in the non-confessional nature of the State, understood today as secularism; the predominance of a great subjectivism and relativism that forgets God and obscures personal conscience in the face of transcendental questions; and, as a consequence, the acceptance of an "anything goes" culture, where man becomes the measure of all things, deforms moral norms and judges everything according to his interests.

"We regret these evils of society, but we are not and do not want to be prophets of calamity; that is why we call for conversion, with realism and confidence. We want change and regeneration; not only of methods, but also of attitudes", Gonzalez Montes, Bishop of Almeria, in developing this part of the text of the Pastoral Plan. He then encouraged "to turn these difficulties into opportunities for greater apostolic vigor." and, as Pope Francis suggests, to "to propose the beauty of God's saving love manifested in Christ, dead and risen".

Five stages

Msgr. Ginés García Beltrán commented on the second part of the Pastoral Plan in which concrete proposals are offered and what is going to be done in these five years through the various organizations and activities of the EEC.

The Plan, which will have five stages -one for each of the coming years-, will begin with a day of fasting and prayer on January 22. The entire Spanish episcopate has been summoned to examine its responsibility in the task of evangelization.

The entire year 2016 will be dedicated to the various organs of the EEC to reflect on the current demands of evangelization in Spain. In short, during this year the objective of the Plan will be to put the organs, services and activities of the Conference in a state of revision and apostolic conversion. On the occasion of its half-century of existence, an international congress will be held to examine in depth the theological, canonical and pastoral dimensions of the Episcopal Conferences.

The second year of the Plan, 2017, will be dedicated to the community dimension and the co-responsibility of all in the service of evangelization. The year 2018 will focus on the Word of God. The attitudes, behaviors and activities of the Church in relation to the proclamation of the Word will be reviewed in order to offer adequate proposals for evangelization and the strengthening of faith. In fact, all the stages of the Plan are aimed at offering help to those who are most dedicated to the service of the transmission of the faith, such as priests, teachers, catechists and parents.

In 2019 the Plan will focus on reflection on the liturgy, so as to promote a revitalization of the celebration of the Christian Mystery and, with it, of the whole Christian life.

Finally, the Pastoral Plan will close in 2020 with a year dedicated to the charitable dimension of the Church. It will seek to contribute to the revitalization of the exercise of charity in dioceses, parishes and communities. It will also promote knowledge of the Social Doctrine of the Church and, in a special way, of the latest encyclical of the Pope, Laudato si'.

In the last year of the Pastoral Plan, and as a culmination, a new examination of how evangelization is being carried out in Spain will take place in the course of a national pastoral congress.

The authorEnrique Carlier

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