Evangelization is the reason for the Church, Cardinal Arinze tells crowd
By Julie Filby
Cardinal Francis Arinze
The Mile High City, known for its commitment to the new evangelization, recently hosted Cardinal Francis Arinze, as a speaker in the Archbishop’s Lecture Series. The cardinal shared a message of “Evangelization and Charity” with a standing-room only crowd at Bonfils Hall on the campus of the John Paul II Center on Sept. 18.
Nigerian Cardinal Arinze, prefect emeritus of the Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments at the Vatican and an advisor to Blessed John Paul II, delivered a serious 45-minute lecture, peppered with humor.
“Evangelization is the bringing to the good news of salvation in Jesus Christ to every human being,” he began. “This is the only reason the Church exists.
“If the Church did not evangelize, the Church would’ve ended up in the Vatican museum,” he quipped.
Following an introduction on evangelization, he reflected on how “the first evangelizer” related to the poor.
“Jesus teaches us that the last judgment will be based on how much solidarity or charity we have shown him in the persons who are hungry, thirsty, stranger, naked, sick, or in prison,” he said. “’As you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me’ (Mt 25:40).
“There is no doubt that Jesus in his evangelizing mission paid special attention to the poor.”
The Apostles, he continued, learned to preach the good news as well as pay attention to the needy.
“The Apostles, in preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ, preached to the whole human person and did not forget the needs of those who were poor in things of this world,” he said. “Or the need of healing for those who were sick.”
When considering charitable works, spiritual needs have priority over bodily ones.
“Spiritual hunger and spiritual poverty are more serious than physical hunger and material poverty,” he said.
Cardinal Arinze recognized several apostolates of the Denver Archdiocese during his talk.
“If I don’t mention FOCUS (Fellowship of Catholic University Students), the Augustine Institute or Christ in the City, they will not happy; so I will not mention any of them,” he said with a laugh.
Among the lecture’s attendees were representatives from each of the ministries.
“(His lecture) rings so true with our education,” said Kyrstyn Walsh, 23, a student at the Augustine Institute. “It’s exciting when you see such strong leaders in the Church preparing the way for us to come in as laypeople and do what God’s put on our hearts to do.”
He’s so joyful, she said of Cardinal Arinze, and has “such a deep peace in Christ.”
“It was a gift to see him and his love of God, and to be able to follow in his footsteps.”
Classmates Sarah Jimenez and Aurora Cerulli, both 23, agreed.
“There were many different points when we nudged each other when he quoted documents we’ve been reading in class, just last week,” said Jimenez referring to papal encyclicals “Redemptoris Misio” and “Deus Caritas Est.”
“Just today,” Cerulli chimed in.
“It was really excellent to hear him define evangelization,” Jimenez said. “Because this is the mission we feel called to and want to fulfill … and we feel the support of the Church.”
The next installment of the Archbishop’s Lecture Series will be Oct. 10. It will feature Regis Martin, professor of theology at Franciscan University of Steubenville and author of “The Last Things: Death, Judgment, Hell, Heaven.”