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24th January 2020

Pope Francis View on Mission 7/9

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In a book-length interview with Gianni Valente from Fides News Agency Pope Francis speaks about what has captured his heart: the proclamation of the Gospel in today’s world. “The joy of the Gospel fills the hearts and lives of all who encounter Jesus”. 

Over the coming days a number of short ‘digestible’ chunks will feature in this blog.

How do we recognize a Christian “missionary”?

A distinctive feature is that of acting as facilitators, and not as controllers of the faith. Facilitating, making easy, without us placing obstacles to Jesus’ desire to embrace everyone, to heal everyone, to save everyone, not being selective, not imposing “pastoral tariffs”, not playing the part of the guard at the door controlling who has the right to enter. I remember parish priests and communities in Buenos Aires who set up many initiatives to facilitate access to baptism. In the last few years, they realized the number was growing of those not being baptized for various reasons, even sociological ones, and they wanted to remind everyone that being baptized is something simple, that everyone can request it, for themselves and for their own children. The path taken by those parish priests and those communities had one objective: not to add burdens, not to make claims, to remove any cultural, psychological or practical difficulties that could push people to postpone or drop the intention to baptize their own children.

In America, at the beginning of evangelization, missionaries discussed who was “worthy” to receive baptism. How did those disputes end?

Pope Paul III rejected the theories of those who claimed that the Indians were by nature “incapable” of accepting the Gospel and confirmed the choice of those who facilitated their baptism. They seem to be things of the past, yet even now there are circles and sectors that present themselves as ilustrados [enlightened], and even sequester the proclamation of the Gospel through their distorted reasoning that divide the world between “civilized” and “barbaric”. What irritates them and makes them angry is the idea that the Lord might have a predilection for many cabecitas negras [a derogatory term]. They consider a large part of the human family as if they were a lower class entity, unable to achieve decent levels in spiritual and intellectual life according to their standards. On this basis, contempt can develop for people considered to be second rate. All this also emerged during the Synod of Bishops for the Amazon.

 

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