RIO DE JANEIRO (CNS) — With the young pilgrims of World Youth Day, Pope Francis was encouraging and challenging; with the bishops, priests and religious who minister to them he was firm and blunt.
“It is not pastoral creativity or meetings or planning that ensure our fruitfulness, but our being faithful to Jesus,” the pope told an estimated 1,000 bishops along with thousands of priests, seminarians and religious who accompanied pilgrims to Rio or were involved in the program.
Pope Francis celebrated Mass with the ministers July 27 in Rio's St. Sebastian Cathedral, repeating one of the key ideas of his papacy: “We cannot keep ourselves shut up in parishes, in our communities, when so many people are waiting for the Gospel.”
“It is not enough simply to open the door in welcome,” he said, “but we must go out through the door to seek and meet the people.”
The ability to share the Good News relies on first recognizing how truly good it is, the pope said. Ministers of the Gospel “must have a memory,” treasuring the knowledge that they were called by God and spending time with him in prayer and adoration. It also means spending time with Jesus present in others, especially the poor, he said.
The hundreds of thousands of young people who gathered in Rio for World Youth Day also have heard Jesus' call to go and make disciples of all nations, the pope said. But that can be a frightening prospect and the church's ministers have an obligation to give the young the education, formation and support they need in order to respond.
“Let us help our young people to discover the courage and joy of faith, the joy of being loved personally by God, who gave his son Jesus for our salvation,” Pope Francis said. “When the young understand they are personally loved by God, they can keep going,” he said.
Jesus obviously loved his disciples, the pope said, but “he did not keep them under his wing like a hen with her chicks. He sent them out.”
A key part of the church's mission activity, he said, is promoting “the culture of encounter” to fight a growing “culture of exclusion, of rejection.”
Too often today “there is no place for the elderly or for the unwanted child; there is no time for the poor person on the edge of the street,” the pope said.
“Dear brother bishops, priests, religious and you, seminarians who are preparing for ministry: have the courage to go against the tide,” the pope told them. Humanity is one family and society can be humane only when all are welcomed and treated with dignity.
“We must be almost obsessive in this matter,” he said.
“We do not want to be presumptuous, imposing 'our truths,'” but rather “the humble yet joyful certainty” of being touched and transformed by the truth of Christ is something Christians must share with others.
– – –
By Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service.