02/01/2014, 00.00
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Pope to Neocatechumenal Way: Communion, mutual respect and love "fundamental ingredients" of mission

Receiving 10 thousand members, Francis praises the movement's work of evangelization and pushes its members to "bring the Gospel of Christ even to the most de-Christianized environments, especially the existential peripheries". With some simple recommendations: safeguard the unity of the Church, respect local cultures, put mutual love in the first place.

Vatican City (AsiaNews) - Ecclesial communion as an "indispensable element", respect for foreign cultures, mutual love, even for those who "choose other avenues of Christian life." These are the basic elements of mission, "simple recommendations" that Pope Francis today gave  to the communities of the Neocatechumenal Way during a special audience.

The first meeting between the Pope and the Way was held in Paul VI Hall and was attended by approximately 10 thousand people. These included the 414 families that Francis will send on mission: among these, 174 will be part of the 40 new missio ad gentes which are in addition to 52 existing ones. The audience was also attended by 900 children from all families present and about 100 families who are already on a mission in different parts of the world.

During the encounter the Pope wanted to "thank the Lord for the joy of your faith and your zeal for Christian witness. My special heartfelt greetings to the children present in such large numbers. My thoughts go in a special way to the families, who will travel to different parts of the world to proclaim and witness the Gospel. The Church is grateful for your generosity". And "in the name of the Church, our Mother", the Pope offered "some simple recommendations" to those present.

The first is to "take the utmost care to build and maintain communion within the particular Churches in which you will work . The Way has its own charisma, its own dynamics, a gift which, like all the gifts of the Spirit, has a profound ecclesial dimension, which means to listen to the life of the Churches to which your leaders send you, to enhance their richness, suffer for their weaknesses if necessary, and walk together with them as one flock under the guidance of the pastors of local churches". Communion , said Francis " is essential : it may sometimes be better not to live every detail the Way requires of you, in order to ensure unity among the brothers and sisters who form the one ecclesial community, of which you must always feel part".

The second piece of advise is about "always being preceded by the Lord even in the most remote places, even in the most diverse cultures, wherever God sows the seed of his Word. From this stems the need for special attention to the cultural context in which these families will work: it is often a very different environment from that from which you come. Many of you will make the effort to learn the local language, sometimes difficult, and this effort is commendable. What is much more important is your commitment to ' learn ' from the cultures that you will encounter , by recognizing the need for the Gospel that is present everywhere , but also that action that the Holy Spirit has made in the life and history of every people".

Finally, the Pope encouraged those present to take care for one another with love, especially the most vulnerable : "The Neocatechumenal Way , as a journey of discovery of one's Baptism is a difficult path, along which a brother or sister may find unexpected difficulties . In these cases, the exercise of patience and mercy from the community is a sign of maturity in the faith. The freedom of each individual must not be forced, and you should also respect the eventual choice of those who decide to seek, outside of the Way, other forms of Christian life to help them grow in response to the call of the Lord".

In conclusion, Francis encourages those present "to bring the Gospel of Jesus Christ everywhere, even to the most de-Christianized areas, especially to the existential suburbs. Evangelize with love , bring the love of God to all say to everyone you meet on the streets of your mission that God loves man as he is, even with his limitations, with his mistakes with his sins. Be messengers and witnesses of the infinite goodness of the Father and of His inexhaustible mercy.  I entrust you to the Blessed Virgin Mary, so that she may always inspire and sustain your apostolate.  May you be zealous and joyful missionaries at the tender school of our Mother".

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