03/08/2023, 13.53
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Pope thanks women for their creative gaze and tender heart

Francis speaks about International Women's Day at the end of the general audience in St Peter's Square. In his catechesis, he referred to the ecclesial dimension of evangelisation, citing the decree "Ad Gentes" issued by the Second Vatican Council. Anyone who “believes himself to be a master [. . .] is not an evangeliser,” he said.

Vatican City (AsiaNews) – Pope Francis addressed the faithful at the end of the Wednesday general audience held in St Peter's Square. “On International Women's Day,” he said, “I think of all women. I thank them for their commitment to building a more humane society through their ability to grasp reality with a creative gaze and a tender heart.

In his weekly catechesis, part of the cycle of reflections on apostolic zeal in evangelisation, Francis focused on the ecclesial dimension of the mission, noting the timeliness of Ad Gentes, the decree the Second Vatican Council dedicated to this topic.

For the pontiff, “evangelising is always an ecclesial service, never solitary, never isolated, never individualistic. Evangelisation is always carried out in ecclesia, that is in a community, and without proselytism, because that is not evangelisation.”

The “temptation of proceeding ‘alone’ is always lurking, especially when the path becomes impassable and we feel the burden of the commitment. Equally dangerous is the temptation to follow easier pseudo-ecclesial paths, to adopt the worldly logic of numbers and polls, to rely on the strength of our ideas, programmes, structures, ‘relationships that count’.”

Citing some passages from Ad Gentes, the pope spoke about the vocation of every baptised person to engage in the mission.

“Apostolic zeal is not enthusiasm; it is another thing, it is a grace of God, that we must preserve. We must understand its meaning, because in the pilgrim and evangelising People of God, there are no active or passive individuals. There are not those who preach, those who proclaim the Gospel in one way or another, and those who remain silent.”

When engaged in evangelisation, people should not become sclerotic or fossilised; they must redeem themselves “from that restlessness that is not of God. The missionary zeal of the believer also expresses itself as a creative search for new ways of proclaiming and witnessing, new ways of encountering the wounded humanity that Christ took on. In short, of new ways of serving the Gospel and serving humanity.”

What is more, “Evangelisation is a service. If a person says that he is an evangeliser, and does not have that attitude, that servant’s heart, and believes himself to be a master, he is not an evangeliser, no … he is wretched.”

Going back to the love that God has given us “does not close us up in spaces of static personal tranquillity. On the contrary, it leads us [.. . .] to live ever more fully what we have received, by sharing it with others, with a sense of responsibility and travelling together along the roads, very often the tortuous and difficult ones of history, in vigilant and industrious expectation of its fulfilment.”

Hence, “Let us ask the Lord for this grace, to take in hand this Christian vocation and give thanks to the Lord for what he has given us, this treasure. And to try to communicate it to others.”

Finally, Francis addressed the usual call not to forget the martyred people of Ukraine: “Let us always have them present in our hearts and in our prayers.”

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