Pope Benedict XVI formally created a new Vatican office Tuesday to revive Christianity in Europe, his latest attempt to counter secular trends in traditionally Christian countries.
In a decree, Benedict said the new office would promote church doctrine, use the media to get the church's message out and mobilize missionary-type activities.
But even on its first day of existence, the Pontifical Council for the New Evangelization ran into an all-too-typical Vatican snag: The four-page decree instituting the office was issued in only Latin and Italian.
Asked how the pope expected to bring the church's message to the world in such relatively unknown languages, the head of the new office, Monsignor Rino Fisichella said he hadn't been in charge until Tuesday and wasn't responsible for how the decree was issued.
He stressed that he planned to have language sections in his department to deal with the faithful in English, Spanish, French, Portuguese, Italian, German and Slavic languages.
Fisichella denied the creation of the office was a mere bureaucratic attempt to fix a complex cultural phenomenon, saying Benedict had made an astute, pastoral decision to focus attention on a growing problem that had preoccupied popes for decades.
Benedict has made reviving Europe's Christian roots a priority. While the decree listed no specific geographical areas of concentration, the evangelization office is expected to also pay attention to Latin America, where evangelical movements are making inroads in traditionally Catholic countries such as Brazil.
In the decree, Benedict lamented that with tremendous scientific, social and cultural progress over the past century, parts of the world that once had strong Christian roots had grown to believe that they can exist without God.
"While some greeted this as a freedom, they soon realized the interior desert that is born when man _ thinking himself the architect of his own nature and destiny _ finds himself lacking that which is fundamental to everything," Benedict wrote.