:: Tuesday 15 October 2013

The new evangelisation according to Francis

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Cardinals hold a meeting with the Pope (ANSA)

Cardinals hold a meeting with the Pope (ANSA)

Addressing participants in the Plenary of the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelisation today, the Pope urged Christians to use the language of mercy and engage in dialogue with those who think differently, have a different faith, or have no faith at all

vatican city

“The new evangelisation must necessarily use the language of mercy, which is more about gestures and attitudes than words.” Christians need to seek out and approach others and speak with everyone. These were Francis’ key messages at the Plenary of the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelisation led by Archbishop Rino Fisichella in the Clementine Hall this morning. Bergoglio thanked participants for the service rendered to the faith and spoke about the importance of testimony, the urgent need to meet others halfway and to have a pastoral plan that focuses on what is essential.


In our time we often encounter an attitude of indifference towards faith, which is no longer considered relevant to human life,” Francis said. It is important for Christians to live faith in a concrete way and inspire others to ask questions: why live like this? What is the impetus for our actions? These are questions which lead us to the heart of evangelisation, which is the witness of faith and charity.”


So many have drifted away from the Church: “Blaming others is wrong. Blaming is pointless. Certain ideologies and individuals throughout the history of the Church and of its members carry responsibility. As children of the Church we must continue the path of the Second Vatican Council, strip ourselves of all that is redundant and harmful, of things that give us a false sense of security, holding the Church back and damaging is real identity.”


There is a need for Christians who help show God's mercy and tenderness towards every creature. We all know that today’s humanity is facing a deep crisis. This is why the new evangelisation must necessarily use the language of mercy, which is more about gestures and attitudes than words. At the same time, it calls on faithful to have the courage to go against the tide and convert from idolatry to the one and true God.” Every person who is baptised is a Christ bearer as the ancient fathers used to say. Anyone who has met Christ, like the Samaritan woman at the well, cannot keep this experience to themselves … All of us should ask ourselves if the people we meet can feel the warmth of our faith and see the joy of our encounter with Christ!”


The Pope went on to stress that the new evangelisation is about re-approaching those who have drifted away from the faith and lost the deep meaning of life. Just as the Son of God came out of his divine condition and approached us, so all Christians are called to approach others, and engage in dialogue with those who think differently to us, have a different faith or have no faith at all. We should approach everyone because we have all been created in the image of God. We can approach others without fear and without renouncing our identity.”


“No one is excluded from the hope of life and God’s love. The Church “is sent to reawaken everywhere this hope, especially where it is suffocated by difficult and at times inhuman existential conditions, where hope cannot breathe. … We need the oxygen of the Gospel, the breath of the Spirit of the Risen Christ, to reignite [hope] in our hearts. The Church is the house where the doors are always open not only to welcome everyone in to breathe love and hope, but also so we can take this love and hope outside.”


Finally, the Pope explained that it is no use losing time on matters that are superfluous of secondary importance. Instead we need to concentrate on the essential reality - which is our encounter with Christ, his mercy and his love - and loving our fellow humans. We need to be courageous and take new paths, without becoming fossilized. The Pope underlined the importance of catechesis, a moment of evangelisation, in overcoming the split between Gospel and culture and our faith illiteracy. He recalled that many times, he has encountered children who do not know how to make the sign of the Cross, and remarked that the work of catechists is a valuable service to new evangelisation, while emphasising that parents should be “the first catechists, the first educators in faith in their own families, by their witness and by their words”.


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