The Holy Father met with the bishops, priests, consecrated persons and pastoral agents during his apostolic trip to Canada to pray Vespers, inviting them to make Jesus known with witness and fraternity.
Johan Pacheco – Vatican News
“The Christian community never again allows itself to be contaminated by the idea that there is a culture superior to others,” Pope Francis asked the bishops, priests, religious and pastoral agents of the Church in Canada at the prayer ceremony of the Vespers, this Thursday, July 28, at the Basilica of Notre-Dame in Quebec.
Francis reflected on “the joy of ministry” in fulfilling the mission of “feeding the flock” (1 P 5,2), and that the Church is called to witness in evangelization. To do this, he invited the ministers to have a “discerning gaze”, to overcome “secularism” by assuming three challenges: making Jesus known, witness and fraternity.
As a reference witness for the Church in Canada, the Pope recalled Saint Francis de Laval, the first Bishop of Quebec, who in his time lived close to the members of the indigenous populations in charity.
“While we are gathered here – said the Pope – as the People of God, let us remember that Jesus is the Shepherd of our lives, who cares for us because he truly loves us. We, pastors of the Church, are asked for that same generosity to shepherd the flock, so that Jesus’ concern for all and his compassion for the wounds of each one can be manifested “.
And he called them to be close to the People of God, “not as salaried religious or officials of the sacred, but with the heart of shepherds, with enthusiasm”, and feeling the concern of the “Good Shepherd” to fulfill this task and live ” the joy of ministry and, even before that, the joy of faith”.
Francis warned about the “secularization” that threatens this joy, “which has long transformed the lifestyle of women and men today, leaving God almost in the background, as if disappeared from the horizon.”
The Pontiff states that before this reality that the world lives there are two possible views: “negative gaze” and the other “discerning gaze”.
“If we stop at a negative gaze, we will end up denying the incarnation because, more than incarnating ourselves in reality, we will flee from it. We will close in on ourselves, we will mourn our losses, we will constantly complain and fall into sadness and pessimism, which never come from God,” the Pope said.
“On the other hand – Francis says – we are called to have a look similar to that of God, who knows how to distinguish the good and is obstinate in seeking it, in seeing it and in feeding it”.
Thus the Pope exhorts them to “announce the Gospel to give men and women of today the joy of faith”, having a “discerning gaze”.
The Pope leaves three challenges to the ministers and pastoral agents in Canada, to work on this particular task of the Church.
make Jesus known
He asks them to go back to the first announcement, “it is necessary to find new ways to announce the heart of the Gospel to those who have not yet encountered Christ. This presupposes pastoral creativity to reach people where they live, discovering opportunities for listening, dialogue and meeting”, he said.
Reiterating again the request for forgiveness for the evil that some Christians did to the indigenous populations and for the sexual abuse of minors, he invited them to bear witness to new paths: “The Gospel is effectively announced when life is the one that speaks, the one that reveals that freedom that sets others free, that compassion that asks for nothing in return, that mercy that speaks of Christ without words.”
Finally, he asked them to live Christian fraternity, since “the Church will be a credible witness to the Gospel when its members live communion more, creating opportunities and spaces for those who come to faith to find a welcoming community.”
The Bishop of Rome also told them that these challenges “can only be carried forward with the power of the Spirit, which we must always invoke in prayer”.
The Holy Father, together with the bishops, priests, consecrated persons, and pastoral agents, addressed this prayer to Saint Francis of Laval: