[The following report-- one in a series of daily reports on the activities of the special Synod of the Americas-- comes through the courtesy of the international news agency ZENIT, based in Rome.]

      The Synod moved quickly from the Andes to Wall Street to provide more reflections on the task of evangelization. Archbishop James Francis Stafford, formerly of Denver and now the president of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, has the task of confronting the challenges facing Catholics in the "other" America, the United States. The archbishop explained how researchers describe the effect of having a "network" society, how it promotes a process of disillusionment in a dubious world of virtual reality where every "make and model," including the Christian faith, is converted into planes, lines, and fields, into just one more option among many. The very nature of the medium, he pointed out, conditions the mass of consumers to come up with their own forms of religion, tailor-made for a personal fit, combining the different "church models" in a world of privately constructed images. "How can the Church proclaim the Gospel to a world of virtual reality?" asked Archbishop Stafford.

      Archbishop Edmundo L. Abastoflor Montero of La Paz offered an answer to that question. He recognized that the challenge can only be met when the Church effectively employs the means of mass communication as an instrument for evangelization. "They are a realm of borders, a place of encounter between the Church and the world," he affirmed.

      Bishop Manuel Eguiguren Galarraga of El Beni, Bolivia, added that the answers to the big questions facing America can be found in a book written 2000 years ago. As he put it: "I have often wondered why the Holy Father repeatedly finds such a universal response among youth wherever he goes. Could it be simply because he presents them with the Gospel, in a way that is passionate and demanding at the same time?"

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December 1, 1997 volume 8, no. 42         DAILY CATHOLIC