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Pope orders top gear evangelisation to counter sects

Pope John Paul II has said the Catholic Church must step up its efforts to match the "spreading" evangelical force of the modern sects that are targeting "those who find themselves in difficulties and loneliness".

He called for a "courageous endeavour of new evangelisation" that will lead every human being to an encounter with Jesus.

"To proclaim Christ is to make each one experience - but especially those who suffer from spiritual and material poverty - divine tenderness and mercy," the Pope explained.

Speaking to parishioners from a number of Rome parishes assembled at the Vatican, he suggested that they "become places of hospitality and solidarity".

The Holy Father also asked that the Eucharist be "at the centre of every pastoral plan," because "it builds the Church as authentic community of the People of God and always regenerates it on the basis of the sacrifice of Christ himself."

Meanwhile a leading Marist educator has identified growing secularisation as the most pressing issue in Australia.

President of the Marist Schools' Association Br Michael Green (pictured) said he believes spiritual formation for teachers in Catholic schools is the key to addressing the problem.

In an interview in the latest edition of Marist Bulletin he said: "The main challenge facing Marist schools in Australia is, in my opinion, the same facing the entire Catholic school sector, i.e. the spirituality of the teachers."

"Our schools are relatively rich in resources with professionally prepared teachers, there is a danger therefore of losing their soul, i.e. of ceasing to be true centres of evangelisation" whilst "a genuine Catholic school has to be a place where students can meet the person of Christ, a place of the Gospel."

Br Green said many students in Australia's Marist schools have little contact with the life of the Church.

"They live in a materialistic environment, secularised and un-churched," he said. "Thus there is a need that the Gospel become relevant and involving for them."

Challenge of Sects Calls for Strong Evangelization, Says Pope (Zenit 8/3/04)
Australia: Marist Brothers Look at Spiritual Formation for Teachers (Vidimus Dominum 9/3/04)

Marist Bulletin 4/3/04

10 Mar 2004