Catholic biishops from around the world are convening for a synod to debate how to counter rising secularism on the 50th anniversary of the historic and controversial Second Vatican Council, reports news.com.au.
The synod will hear a call from Pope Benedict XVI for a "new evangelisation" drive for the Catholic Church, which is fast losing followers in Europe and feels increasingly discriminated against in many parts of the world.
The synod lasts until October 28 and coincides with the announcement on October 11 of a Year of Faith to mark the anniversary of the start of the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965), which changed the face of Catholicism.
The 85-year-old German pontiff, who was an expert at the council known as "Vatican II" and one of its most reformist voices, has made the new evangelisation a centrepiece of his papacy since being elected in 2005.
The synod will also look at tensions against Christians in some parts of the world including on the part of radical Islamists, as well as increasing competition from evangelical churches particularly in the developing world.
The last synod on evangelisation was called by Paul VI in 1974 but the crisis of faith in traditionally Christian countries was not as strong then.
The Vatican earlier this year revealed the answers given by bishops to a questionnaire asking them to identify obstacles in spreading the Gospel.
FULL STORY Bishops debate Catholic decline (news.com.au)