Dear Friends: For those of you who have not followed my educational forum in the past, this article is the second in a series on the recent exhortation of Pope Francis, “The Joy of the Gospel” (Evangelli Gadium). “The Joy of the Gospel” is a bold call to a new moment in the church. Pope Francis addresses many facets of the Christian person, church and community life, and the proclamation of the Good News of Jesus Christ to a modern world and a church that needs reform.
Pope Francis uses the term “reform” many times when referring to changes needed in ourselves, church structures and the Catholic culture that has become “comfortable”. Typically, the church has used the term “renewal” in an effort to avoid confusion with the Protestant Reformation. However, Pope Francis seems to be unfettered by the term “reform”, so I will feel free to use it as well.
For today’s discussion, I will focus on Section II # 25 of the exhortation titled, “PASTORAL ACTIVITIES AND CONVERSION”. This title summaries the pope’s entire focus. In this section, Pope Francis strongly states, ” I hope that all communities will devote the necessary effort to advancing along the path of a pastoral and missionary conversion which cannot leave things as they presently are. ‘Mere administration’ (a quote from the Fifth General Conference of the Latin American and Caribbean Bishops, Aparecida Document, 29 June 2007, 201) can no longer be enough. Throughout the world, let us be ‘permanently in a state of mission'(IBID) “.
These are bold and strong words from the pope. He is moving the church which includes many different expressions and communities from their present mode of Christian living to a new moment of permanent evangelization. There is no question that Pope Francis definitely walks the walk in this mindset.
I would like to hear from you. What do you think about this statement from the pope? What has to happen to make his exhortation possible? What role do you see yourself participating in this new evangelization?
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God Bless, Dr. Nick