Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Pope Francis: “Proclaiming the truth of the Gospel is not an assault on freedom”

The following comes from the Vatican Insider:

“Each community is "mature" when it professes faith, celebrates it with joy during the liturgy, lives charity, proclaims the Word of God endlessly, leaves one’s own to take it to the “peripheries”, especially to those who have not yet had the opportunity to know Christ,” Francis says in his message for the 87thWorld Mission Day which will be celebrated next 20 October, just after the end of the Year of Faith.

“The strength of our faith, at a personal and community level can be measured by the ability to communicate it to others, to spread and live it in charity, to witness to it before those we meet and those who share the path of life with us,” the Pope writes in his message.

The way Francis sees it, faith must be a “secure light” that illuminates people’s path at this time of crisis and conflict. He stressed this in Lumen Fidei, the encyclical he wrote with Benedict XVI.

The papal message also takes into account the difficult social situation many countries are going through at the moment: “We also live in a time of crisis that touches various sectors of existence, not only the economy, finance, food security, or the environment, but also those involving the deeper meaning of life and the fundamental values that animate it,” Francis said.

In the text dated 19 May, the Pope says human coexistence “is marked by tensions and conflicts that cause insecurity and difficulty in finding the right path to a stable peace.” “In this complex situation, where the horizon of the present and future seems threatened by menacing clouds, it is necessary to proclaim courageously and in very situation, the Gospel of Christ, a message of hope, reconciliation, communion, a proclamation of God's closeness, his mercy, his salvation, and a proclamation that the power of God’s love is able to overcome the darkness of evil and guide us on the path of goodness,” the Pope writes.
So “the men and women of our time needs the secure light that illuminates their path and that only the encounter with Christ can give.” “The Church’s missionary spirit is not about proselytizing, but the testimony of a life that illuminates the path, which brings hope and love.”

“All too often, we see that it is violence, lies and mistakes that are emphasized and proposed. It is urgent in our time to announce and witness to the goodness of the Gospel, and this from within the Church itself,” Francis recalls, referring to Paul VI’s words in the Evangelii Nuntiandi to illustrate the fact that faith is a tribute to human freedom: “It would be... an error to impose something on the consciences of our brethren. But to propose to their consciences the truth of the Gospel and salvation in Jesus Christ, with complete clarity and with total respect for free options which it presents... is a tribute to this freedom."

Francis points out that “the work of evangelization often finds obstacles, not only externally, but also from within the ecclesial community.” “Sometimes there is lack of fervour, joy, courage and hope in proclaiming the Message of Christ to all and in helping the people of our time to an encounter with him.”

“We must always have the courage and the joy of proposing, with respect, an encounter with Christ, and being heralds of his Gospel,” the Pope writes, touching on a topic that is very dear to him.

Jesus came amongst us to show us the way of salvation and he entrusted to us the mission to make it known to all to the ends of the earth. All too often, we see that it is violence, lies and mistakes that are emphasized and proposed. “The Church – I repeat once again – is not a relief organization, an enterprise or an NGO, but a community of people, animated by the Holy Spirit, who have lived and are living the wonder of the encounter with Jesus Christ and want to share this experience of deep joy, the message of salvation that the Lord gave us. It is the Holy Spirit who guides the Church in this path.”

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