Catholic News Service
VATICAN CITY — Pope Benedict XVI named Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl of Washington as the relator, or recording secretary, of the 2012 Synod of Bishops on “new evangelization.”
As recording secretary, Cardinal Wuerl will be primarily responsible for preparing a thematic report for discussion at the opening of the synod and another report summarizing speeches given in the first phase of the synod’s general assemblies.
The relator is a central figure of the Synod of Bishops, and he is usually assisted by special secretaries.
The synod, to be held Oct. 7-28 next year, will focus on the theme, “The new evangelization for the transmission of the Christian faith.” New evangelization refers to the effort to re-evangelize in countries where Christian faith and practice have declined, and Pope Benedict has made it a priority of his pontificate.
Cardinal Wuerl has been a leader in religious education. Addressing a recent Vatican conference on new evangelization, he said catechesis is essential for the church’s outreach.
“When a person is well-grounded catechetically — that means each one of us renewing our faith — that person has the confidence to be able to express it” and “to invite others into the experience of faith,” he said.
He added that while Western society is highly secularized, there is “enormous openness to hearing about Christ” among many young people.
The Synod of Bishops was established after the Second Vatican Council as a forum for the pope, the world’s bishops and Vatican officials to examine issues and exchange information.
Pope Benedict has presided over two world synods, one on the Eucharist and one on Scripture, as well as regional synods for Africa and the Middle East. He streamlined the format of these encounters to allow for freer exchange of opinion, and has sometimes joined in the discussions.