New study examines the church's mission in England and Wales

 The Bishops of England and Wales plan to launch a new report on Evangelisation in England and Wales on 8 August. The study, by Philip Knights and Andrea Murray, with a forward by Bishop Crispian Hollis is being billed as "the most comprehensive to date of English and Welsh evangelisation." In his forward, Bishop Hollis states: "This book represents that necessary research which has to be at the heart of any worthwhile study of the way in which the people of God hold their faith and are challenged to share it with others". Using questionnaires, interviews and a study of theological documents and other Church statements and findings, the 170-page report examines current trends in evangelisation and considers the meaning of proclaiming Christ in the 21st century. Key findings of the report include an ageing and declining church population, with a general consensus that parishes are finding it difficult to attract or retain young adults. Conversely, the Catholic parish's main strengths are found to be its warmth of welcome and its liturgy. Less than a quarter of respondents saw the family as an important location in which the Gospel is lived out, while less than half of those saw a significant contribution by the parish in proclaiming the Gospel in the broader community. A particular concern is the reluctance of Catholics to evangelise and the report stresses the need to "put fire in their belly for the Gospel". In contrast, the report cites small groups, including SVP, the Catholic Charismatic Renewal, Life and SPUC as important influences in fostering a sense of the Gospel in respondents. While the study recognises the importance of the Church's "internal self-management", it warns against "naval-gazing" and insists that the orientation of the Church be outward rather than inward looking. It states: "Evangelisation and mission demand that we give greater emphasis on those on and beyond our ecclesial margins - including those we may be marginalizing." It says "dialogue is not about relativism but the encounter between authentic Christian belief and practice with those who are beyond explicit Christian belief and practice". The booklet concludes with recommendations for future development stressing that the root of evangelisation must be in an understanding that all are on a journey of discovery and emphasises that an "attitude of openness" is essential. * The Catholic Communication Office also mention today that: 'The Call of Creation' - a 16-page booklet produced by the Catholic Bishops' Conference's International Affairs Department on the natural environment and Catholic social teaching - will be launched at the same time as the study on evangelisation. Source: CMS

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