As the Year of Jubilee draws to a close, it is appropriate to consider the overall state of the Catholic Church - an audit, as it were - and to look realistically to the future.
There is no doubt that Pope John Paul II remains one of the most respected and admired of world leaders. Moreover, his name must surely be included in any short listing of the great popes of the past 2,000 years. Despite this - and indicative of the dimensions of the problems he has had to confront inside and outside the Church over the past 22 years - secularism has been increasingly embraced in the Western world, along with mindless materialism and consumerism.
Inside the Church, while outstanding centres of faith exist, for example in South Korea, East Timor and Malta, the picture remains generally bleak, especially in the West, where a chronic crisis of faith persists; the number of nominal, "cultural" Catholics - having only the most tenuous of connections with the Church's teachings and practices - continues to grow. The Church in Australia is no exception.
Given this state of affairs, the challenge for the lay Catholic, and for religious publications like AD2000, in evangelisation, is clear:
* Highlighting Church teachings that have been overlooked or obscured, such as the recently released Dominus Iesus.
* Challenging erroneous interpretations of Church teachings which weaken the Faith.
* Highlighting practical examples of orthodoxy that offer the promise of future growth and renewal, and are worthy of support and emulation.
Michael Gilchrist, Editor (E-mail - firstname.lastname@example.org)