Monday, November 18, 2013
Pope: missionary outreach is paradigm for pastoral action
Missionary outreach is “the paradigm for all pastoral action,” said Pope Francis in his remarks on Saturday in a video message to participants at a four-day pilgrimage-encounter in Mexico.
The Pope spoke about the need for creativity and about the missionary impulse in the evangelizing work of the Church, making reference to the conclusions of the 2007 Fifth General Conference of Latin American Bishops.
“Aparecida,” he said, “proposes to put the Church in a permanent state of mission… And this, in the certainty that missionary outreach, more than being one activity among others, is a paradigm, that is, the paradigm for all pastoral action.”
The intimacy of the Church with Jesus is an “itinerant intimacy,” he said, which calls people out of themselves to reach out to others.
“It is vital for the Church not to close in on itself, not to feel already satisfied and sure with what it has accomplished,” he said. “If this happens, the Church will get sick, it will get sick with imaginary abundance… in a certain sense it will ‘get indigestion’ and will weaken.”
All pastoral activity is oriented by the missionary impulse to reach everyone, he continued. “It is necessary to go out of one’s community and to have the boldness to go to the existential peripheries, which need to feel God’s closeness,” he said.
Evangelization is not exclusive and it considers the circumstances in which people find themselves. Christians must share the joy of having encountered Christ and not impose new obligations, reprimand others or complain about that which they consider to be lacking.
“The work of evangelization demands much patience,” he said. It also presents the “Christian message in manner that is serene and gradual… as did the Lord.”
It privileges that which is “essential and most necessary, that is, the beauty of the love of God, communicated in Christ, who died and resurrected.”
He urged Christians to step outside of their usual ways of doing things. “We must force ourselves to be creative in our methods,” he said. “We cannot remain confined in our common space of ‘it was always done this way’.”
THE TEMPTATION OF CLERICALISM
The Pope also addressed the role of clerics and religious in the Church. He said a bishop leads the pastoral life of the Church with tenderness and patience, “manifesting the maternity of the Church and the mercy of God”.
The attitude of the true pastor must not be that of a prince or of a bureaucrat. Instead, a bishop must care for his people, knowing how to discern the movement of the Holy Spirit.
Pope Francis also addressed the need to deal with clericalism. “The temptation of clericalism, which does much damage to the Church in Latin America, is an obstacle to the development of maturity and Christian responsibility of a good part of the laity,” he said.
He described clericalism as a “group attitude” that is “self-referential” and which impoverishes encounter with Christ, which is what creates disciples.
“Therefore, I believe it is important, urgent, to form ministers capable… of encounter, who know how to enflame the hearts of people, walk with them, enter into dialogue with their hopes and fears,” he said.
He added that today’s culture requires good priestly formation, and he questioned whether the Church had “sufficient capacity to be self-critical in order to evaluate the results of very small seminaries, which have a shortage of formative staff.”
The Pope also said consecrated life is leaven for the Church and urged consecrated men and women to be faithful to their communities’ charisms, which are a “great prophecy… for the good of the Church.”
The Pope concluded by urging us to live our baptismal call in faith and to share it with others.