The Catholic Church shouldn’t be afraid of the great changes of the modern world, Pope Francis has said. Rather, the Church should embrace this “happy challenge” with a renewed language of love and mercy. For Pope Francis, what people expect from the Church today is that “she knows how to walk with them, offering the company of the witness of faith, which shows solidarity to all, in particular those who are most alone and marginalized.” The Pope on May 29 recognized the many men, women and children living “on the existential peripheries generated by a consumer society” who are waiting for the closeness and solidarity of the Church. The Gospel, which every Christian is called to proclaim, is “the announcement of God's love which, in Jesus Christ, calls us to participate in his life,” Pope Francis said. In this light, the New Evangelization means “to be aware of the merciful love of the Father in order to also become instruments of salvation for our brothers.” The pontiff’s words came in an audience with members of the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization at the close of its plenary assembly. The council, headed by Archbishop Rino Fisichella, is organizing the Jubilee for Mercy. The jubilee is a holy year Pope Francis has declared to emphasize conversion, reconciliation and forgiveness of sins. The Jubilee for Mercy will begin on Dec. 8, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. It will end on Nov. 20, 2016, the Feast of Christ the King. Pope Francis told the pontifical council members that their work on the jubilee year can make the Church’s message of mercy more apparent. The awareness of God’s merciful love has been given to each Christian in baptism and constantly seeks to grow and become fruitful, the Pope added. “The gift of mercy is the announcement that the Church is called to transmit in her work of evangelization in this time of great changes.” The great changes of the modern world are a “happy challenge” and an opportunity for the Church to better understand the signs of the times in order to bring Jesus Christ to the people of today, he said. The Pope said that although the mission of the Church is always the same, the language that announces the Gospel needs to be renewed “with pastoral wisdom.” This renewal is essential so that Christians’ contemporaries can understand the Gospel and so that Catholic tradition “can speak to today's cultures of the world and help them to open themselves to the everlasting fruitfulness of Christ's message.” The Church shouldn’t be afraid to face modern challenges. By taking on these challenges, she is able to provide concrete answers illuminated by the light of the Gospel. The Pope said that Christian maturity comes above all through catechesis, in which they experience God’s mercy. This experience is not something abstract. Rather, it is a concrete moment in which we “understand our weakness and the strength that comes from above.” As a step in the process of evangelization, catechesis needs to go beyond just the “scholastic sphere,” so that it can truly educate believers, including children, and lead them to an encounter with Christ, who is “alive and active” in his Church. Pope Francis assured the pontifical council members of his closeness and support in their “truly urgent responsibility.” He entrusted them to the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Catholic News Agency was founded in 2004, in response to Pope St. John Paul II’s call for a “New Evangelization." It is an apostolate of EWTN News.