07/29/2022, 10.08
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Pope: Without defensive armour, present in our secularised world

In the Cathedral of Notre Dame de Quebec, Francis' address to the bishops, clergy and pastoral workers of Canada. "Let us return to the first proclamation: to those who have not yet embraced the Lord in their lives we cannot presume to communicate the joy of faith by presenting secondary aspects, repeating certain practices or replicating outdated pastoral formulas."  

Quebec (AsiaNews) - A Church free from the nostalgia of the past, which must not defend itself from the world but gift  the joy of the Gospel. This is the horizon that Francis indicated to the Church of Canada last night when he met bishops, priests, deacons, consecrated men, seminarians and pastoral workers in the Cathedral of Notre Dame de Quebec. With them he addressed another of the great themes of the Church's presence in Canada today: the relationship with a context strongly marked by secularisation.

He questioned : "Does our Church express the joy of the Gospel? Is there a faith in our communities that attracts because of the joy it communicates? If we want to address the root of these questions, we cannot help but reflect on what, in the reality of our time, threatens the joy of faith and risks obscuring it, seriously undermining the Christian experience. One immediately thinks of secularisation, which has long since transformed the lifestyle of today's women and men, consigning God to the background".

"When we observe the culture in which we are immersed, its languages and its symbols, we must be careful not to remain prisoners of pessimism and resentment, leaving ourselves open to negative judgements or useless nostalgia, " said Pope Francis, encouraging them to look beyond this negativity which is the result of "a faith that, percieving itself to be under attack, conceives itself as a defensive 'armour' from the world, and thus which risks becoming a 'crusader spirit'. Let us beware of this,' he warned, 'because it is not Christian; it is not God's way. The Lord, who detests worldliness, looks with love on the world. He blesses our life, He says good things about us and our reality, He incarnates Himself in the situations of history not to condemn, but to make the seed of the Kingdom sprout right there where darkness seems to triumph".

"If we stop short at this negative outlook we will end up denying the incarnation, because we will flee reality, instead of incarnating ourselves in it. We will close in on ourselves, we will cry over our losses, we will continually complain and fall into sadness and pessimism, which never come from God." Instead, it is a matter of "having a gaze similar to that of God, who knows how to discern the good and is persistent in seeking it, seeing it and nourishing it. It is not a naive gaze, but a gaze that discerns reality' Francis continued, .

Recalling the distinction between secularisation and secularism - proposed by Paul VI in the apostolic exhortation Evangelli nuntiandi - Pope Francis invited us to beware of the risk "of communicating the wrong message, as if behind the criticism of secularisation there was nostalgia for a sacralised world, for a society of bygone times in which the Church and its ministers had more power and social relevance". On the contrary, 'secularisation is a challenge to our pastoral imagination. While it makes us see the difficulties we have in transmitting the joy of faith, it stimulates us to rediscover a new passion for evangelisation, to seek new languages, to change some pastoral priorities, to go to the essentials'.

Hence the invitation to cultivate 'a personal and ecclesial lifestyle that can rekindle the desire for the Lord, instil hope, transmit trust and credibility'. A path in which he indicated three challenges in particular. Firstly, to make Jesus known, returning to the first proclamation. "We cannot presume to communicate the joy of faith," the Pontiff commented, "by presenting secondary aspects to those who have not yet embraced the Lord in their lives, or only by repeating certain practices or replicating outdated pastoral formulas . New ways must be found to announce the heart of the Gospel to those who have not yet encountered Christ'.

But the first proclamation demands credibility, and here then is the second challenge, that of witness. "The Gospel," Francis explained, "is effectively proclaimed when it is life that speaks, when it reveals that freedom that sets others free, that compassion that asks nothing in return, that mercy that without words speaks of Christ."  Reflecting on this the pope also mentioned the path of purification required by the scandal of sexual abuse committed against minors and vulnerable people not only in Canada , "scandals that require strong actions and an irreversible battle".

Finally, the third challenge: fraternity. "It is about living a Christian community that becomes a school of humanity, where we learn to love one another as brothers and sisters, willing to work together for the common good. Let us ask ourselves: how is fraternity among us? Are we brothers or competitors divided into parties? And how are our relations with those who are not 'of ours', with those who do not believe, with those who have different traditions and customs? This is the way,' he concluded, 'to promote fraternal relationships with everyone, with our indigenous brothers and sisters, with every sister and brother we meet, because in the face of each one is reflected the presence of God'.

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