Our Goals - Go and Make Disciples

Our Goals (¶45-60)

45. We, your brothers and your bishops in the faith, propose three goals as part of this plan and strategy for Catholic evangelization in the United States. In addition, we pledge ourselves to work for the accomplishment of these goals, which spring from our understanding of evangelization and how it happened. None of these goals is presented by itself; taken together, they challenge us to the full scope of Catholic evangelization.

46. Goal I: To bring about in all Catholics such an enthusiasm for their faith that, in living their faith in Jesus, they freely share it with others.

47. Clearly, unless we continue to be evangelized ourselves, with renewed enthusiasm for our faith and our Church, we cannot evangelize others. Priority must be given to continued and renewed formation in the faith as the basis of our deepening personal relationship with Jesus.

48. We are aware that many Catholics tend to keep their faith to themselves or to manifest it only around other Catholics. Perhaps our heritage as immigrants and our acknowledgment of religious pluralism make us shy in showing forth our faith. Certainly, there has been a decline in the public practice of our faith in recent decades. For many, the fire of faith burns cooler than it should.

49. Yet we have no reason to be shy about the heritage of our Catholic faith. We have God's own Word, formed through God's revelation to the Jewish people and the disciples' testimony of God's deeds in Jesus, in the Sacred Scriptures. This Word is the light by which we live and see. We have the sacraments, especially the Eucharist, that Jesus bequeathed to his disciples, means of holiness and growth, healing and salvation. These sacraments join us with God at life's most touching points and bring us into unity with each other. This heritage of word and sacrament has brought about, in every generation of our twenty centuries of Catholic life, a path of holiness, a profoundly moral way of life, a variety of spiritual journeys, and countless saints. It brings Christ's faithful followers to eternal life.

50. This heritage, our Church, is apostolic, coming as it does from the testimony of the apostles; our unbroken unity with the bishop of Rome reveals our continuity with the faith of Peter and Paul. It is catholic, for our heritage is given not only for us but also for all, for the world, as the hope of all humanity one day united in love. It is holy, because its source is Christ who is holy and insists that every believer also be a disciple. And our heritage is one, binding us in every continent into one community because we are bound in nothing less than the reality of Jesus through his Spirit.

51. Our joy in this heritage calls us to offer it as a legacy, a treasure God would bestow on everyone who, touched by the Spirit, begins to respond to God's call. The tools that have been developed over time and the Catechism of the Catholic Church will help us pass on this legacy to others.

52. This first goal calls us to an enthusiasm for all that God has given us in our Catholic faith. It also fosters ongoing conversion within the Catholic Church, which, as an institution and a community of people, continually needs it.

53. Goal II: To invite all people in the United States, whatever their social or cultural background, to hear the message of salvation in Jesus Christ so they may come to join us in the fullness of the Catholic faith

54. Catholics should continually share the Gospel with those who have no church community and with those who have given up active participation in the Catholic Church, as well as welcoming those seeking full communion with the Catholic Church. People can know they are invited to experience Jesus Christ in our Church only if they are really and effectively asked and if adequate provisions are made for their full participation. We want our Catholic brothers and sisters to effectively ask and to really invite.

55. At the same time, we Catholics cannot proselytize—that is, manipulate or pressure anyone to join our Church. Such tactics contradict the Good News we announce and undermine the spirit of invitation that should characterize all true evangelization.

56. Goal III: To foster gospel values in our society, promoting the dignity of the human person, the importance of the family, and the common good of our society, so that our nation may continue to be transformed by the saving power of Jesus Christ

57. When the story of Jesus is truly our story, when we have caught his fire, when his Good News shapes our lives individually, as families and households, and as a Church, his influence will be felt far beyond our Church. Pope Paul VI taught us that evangelization transforms culture, that the Gospel affects and at times upsets the "criteria of judgment, determining values, points of interest, lines of thought, sources of inspiration and models of life" that make up our cultural world.34

58. Not only must each of us live the Gospel personally in the Church, but also our faith must touch the values of the United States, affirming what is good, courageously challenging what is not. Catholics applaud our nation's instinctual religiousness, its prizing of freedom and religious liberty, its openness to new immigrants, and its inspiring idealism. If our society were less open, indeed, we might not be free to evangelize in the first place. On the other hand, our country can be faulted for its materialism, its sexism, its racism, its consumerism, its individualism run wild, its ethic of selfishness, its neglect of the poor and weak, its disregard of human life, and its endless chase after empty fads and immediate pleasures.

59. Seeing both the ideals and the faults of our nation, we Catholics need to recognize how much our Catholic faith, for all it has received from American culture, still has to bring to life in our country. On the level of truth, we have a profound and consistent moral teaching based upon the dignity and destiny of every person created by God. On the practical level, we have the witness of American Catholics serving those most in need, educationally, socially, materially, and spiritually.

60. This goal calls for results not only in the way we evaluate things but also in the way we carry the Good News through the practical works of justice, charity, and peace that alone can fully authenticate our message. With Pope John Paul II, we affirm that "to teach and spread her social doctrine pertains to the Church's evangelizing mission and is an essential part of the Christian message, since this doctrine points out the direct consequences of that message in the life of society and situates daily work and struggles for justice in the context of bearing witness to Christ the Savior."35


  1. On Evangelization in the Modern World, no. 19
  2. On the Hundredth Anniversary of "Rerum Novarum" (Centesimus Annus), no. 5