05/23/2007, 00.00
VATICAN

Pope: Christians must be disciples and missionaries of Christ

In his general audience Benedict XVI re-evoked his journey to Brazil. He highlighted the need to “recover the spirit of the early Christian community, assiduous in its catechesis, in its sacramental life and in its charitable works”, to “present the faith clearly without reducing it”, through the constant promotion of a social development which forms lay Catholics to take on responsibility in both the political and social spheres.

Vatican City (AsiaNews) – An evangelization of “renewed enthusiasm, methods and expression”: which follows the guidelines set out by John Paul II to the Episcopal Council of Latin America in 1983 was the primary objective of Benedict XVI’s voyage to Brazil from the 9th to the 14th of this month.  The Pope underscored this element of his recent trip in his address to over 40 thousand pilgrims and visitors gathered in St Peter’s square for his general audience.  An evangelizing journey which, in the Pope’s own words, must be undertaken in the light of the “theological and social” aspects of a love which gives to others, as indicated in Deus caritas est.

A central point of the voyage was the opening of the V General Conference bishops from Latin America.  Today as then, the Pope underscored the theme “Disciples and Missionaries of Christ”. “The coupling of these terms – he said – corresponds to Mathew’s Gospel where the apostles are given their mandate”. The word disciple, he added “recalls the formative dimension of the follower to be in communion with and a friend of Christ”, by being “and obedient pupil of his teachings”, while “the term mission express the fruit of the disciple-hood”, in short the shared witness of the Gospel experience. It is a case of the need to “recover the spirit of the early Christian community, assiduous in its catechesis, in its sacramental life and in its charitable works”, to “present the faith clearly without reducing it”, through the constant promotion of a social development which forms lay Catholics to take on responsibility in both the political and social spheres.

In his address, Benedict XVI re-evoked various highlights of his journey, during which he said he aimed to impress the theme of the relationship between faith and culture, which in the Latin American continent has created history, life experiences and art.  But, he added, “Memories of the glorious past cannot ignore the shadows which accompany the history of evangelization.  We cannot ignore the suffering and injustices imposed on the indigenous populations”, as already condemned, he recalled, by theologians such as Bartholomew de Las Casas. Thus within the continent the Gospel became “has expressed and continues to express the identity of the peoples in this region and provides inspiration to address the challenges of our globalize era”.  “The Catholic identity is the most adequate because it is animated by the principals of the Churches Social Doctrine” and the Church in order to contribute to resolving socio-economic problems, “must mobilize all of its strength to converge with others who work for the common good”.  In fact, “Brazil is an example for other countries of this new model for development” and “Christian culture can animate ‘reconciliation’ between mankind and creation, starting from a recovery of human dignity in relation to God the Father”.

A final mention went to the Youth Meeting of Sao Paolo, which he defined today as “a sign of hope for the present and future Church”. Recalling that encounter,  he reiterated that today the Church offers the commandments as a journey of education towards freedom and personal well being – adding that above all, the first commandment of love must be a constant, because without love none of the commandments make sense or lead to a full and happy life. “I invited the young people to be apostles to their contemporaries, use their rich gifts in the service of the new evangelization” and “to respect marriage”. In short he concluded “I encouraged them to invest in the tremendous wealth of their youth”.

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