By Cindy Wooden
VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Evangelization requires people who joyfully and lovingly live their faith, are not afraid to go out to share it and know how to transmit to others the essential teachings of the church, Pope Francis said.
The world needs “the oxygen of the Gospel, the breath of the spirit of the risen Christ,” Pope Francis told members of the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelization.
Meeting the council members Oct. 14 at the beginning of their plenary meeting, the pope said there are steps both individuals and the church as a whole must take to fulfill their obligation to share the Gospel with the world.
While faith is a gift, he said, Christians must show others its meaning by being living examples of love, agreement, joy and trust in the midst of suffering “because this will raise questions,” such as “Why do they live like that? What motivates them?”
Pope Francis said everyone knows many people have left the church or no longer practice their faith as they should, and “it’s wrong to blame one side or another” when there is such a pressing obligation to move forward.
“As sons and daughters of the church, we must continue the journey of the Second Vatican Council, rid ourselves of useless and dangerous things, of false worldly securities that weigh down the church and damage its true face,” he said.
Pope Francis said catechesis is a key part of the new evangelization, and strengthening religious education efforts must continue in order to overcome “the fracture between the Gospel and culture as well as the illiteracy we find today in matters of faith.”
The pope said he knows he has mentioned it several times in recent weeks, but one thing he repeatedly is struck by is the number of baptized children who do not even know how to make the sign of the cross.
The work of catechists is essential, he said, but parents must be the first to educate their children in the faith.
Catholics cannot wait for people to come to them, he said. They have an obligation to go out into the world and share the good news of faith and salvation with all those who are seeking or hurting in any way.
“Christians must make visible to people today the mercy of God and his tenderness toward every creature,” Pope Francis said. “We must all ask ourselves if the people we meet perceive in our lives the warmth of faith and see in our face the joy of having encountered Christ.”
To evangelize, he said, is to focus “on the essential, that is, on Jesus Christ,” on his love and on loving others as he did.
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