Vatican City, 13 June 2013 (VIS) – This morning the Pope received members of the 13th Ordinary Council of the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops, gathered in Rome to help the pontiff choose the theme of the next Ordinary General Assembly.

The 13th assembly of the synod took place last October in the Vatican and was dedicated to “The New Evangelization for the Transmission of the Christian Faith”. “There is a close connection,” the Pope said, “between these two elements: the transmission of the Christian faith is the purpose of the new evangelization and of all the Church's evangelizing work, which exists precisely for this. The expression 'New Evangelization', therefore, highlights the increasingly clear awareness that, even in countries with an ancient Christian tradition, a renewed proclamation of the Gospel is necessary to bring us back to the encounter with Christ that truly transforms our lives and that isn't superficial or marked by routine. This has consequences for pastoral activity.”

In this context, the Bishop of Rome quoted the words of Paul VI's address to the College of Cardinals in June of 1973: “The conditions of the society in which we live oblige all of us therefore to revise methods, to seek by every means to study how we can bring the Christian message to modern man. For it is only in the Christian message that modern man can find the answer to his questions and the energy for his commitment of human solidarity.”

“I would like,” Pope Francis added, “to encourage the entire ecclesial community to be evangelizing, to not be afraid to 'go out' of themselves to proclaim, above all trusting in the merciful presence of God who guides us. The techniques are certainly important, but even the most advanced ones couldn't substitute the gentle but effective action of He who is the principal agent of evangelization: the Holy Spirit. It is necessary to let yourselves be led by him, even if He takes us along new paths. It is necessary to let yourselves be transformed by him so that our announcement might be made with words that are always accompanied by the simplicity of our lives, our spirit of prayer, and our charity towards all, especially the lowliest and poorest, by our humility and self-detachment, and by the holiness of our lives.”

The Synod of Bishops “has been one of the fruits of the Second Vatican Council. Thanks to God that, in these almost fifty years, we have been able to feel the benefits of this institution that, in a permanent way, is at the service of the Church's mission and communion as an expression of collegiality. … Open to the grace of the Holy Spirit, the soul of the Church, we are confident that the Synod of Bishops will know further developments to facilitate even more the dialogue and collaboration between the bishops and between them and the Bishop of Rome,” concluded the Holy Father.