March 21, 2024

Verbatim: Pope Francis’ message to the Dicastery of Evangelization


Pope Francis’ message to the plenary session of the Dicastery of Evangelization on March 15, 2024 in Rome.

I am pleased to welcome you, Superiors, Members and Consultors of the Dicastery for Evangelization – Section for the fundamental questions in the world, gathered in plenary assembly. It is an important moment for the exchange that the problems of evangelization entail, especially when looking at the various regions of the world, so different from each other...

My first thought goes to the condition in which several local Churches find themselves, where the secularism of past decades has created enormous difficulties: from the loss of a sense of belonging to the Christian community, to indifference regarding faith and its content. They are serious problems, which many brothers and sisters must confront every day, but one must not lose heart. Secularism has been studied and scores of pages have been written about it. We know the negative effects it has produced, but this is the right time to understand what effective answer we are required to give to the young generations, so that they can recover the meaning of life.

The call for the autonomy of the person, advanced as one of the claims of secularism, cannot be theorized as independence from God, because it is indeed God who guarantees the freedom of personal action. And it relates to our new digital culture, which presents many interesting aspects for the progress of humanity — think of medicine and the protection of creation — yet also brings with it a vision of mankind that appears problematic when referring to the need for truth that resides in every person, joined with the need for freedom in interpersonal and social relationships.

Therefore, the major issue before us is to understand how to overcome the rupture that has occurred in the transmission of faith. To this end, it is urgent to recover an effective relationship with families and with formation centres. In order to be transmitted, faith in the risen Lord, which is the heart of evangelization, requires significant experience lived within the family and the Christian community as an encounter with Jesus Christ who changes life. Without this encounter, real and existential, we will always be subject to the temptation to make faith a theory and not a testimony of life….

A second theme I wish to share with you is the spirituality of mercy, as a fundamental component of the work of evangelization. God’s mercy is never lacking, and we are called to bear witness to it and, so to speak, to make it circulate in the veins of the body of the Church. God is merciful: this perennial message was relaunched with strength and renewed methods by St. John Paul II for the Church and humanity at the beginning of the third millennium.

The pastoral care of Shrines, which is your responsibility, must be imbued with mercy, so that those who come to these places may find an oasis of peace and serenity. The Missionaries of Mercy, with their generous service to the Sacrament of Reconciliation, offer witness that should help all priests to rediscover the grace and the joy of being ministers of God who forgives, always and without limits. Ministers of God who not only awaits us but comes towards us, goes in search of us, because He is a merciful Father, not a master; He is a good Shepherd, not a mercenary, and He is full of joy when He can welcome a person who returns, or whom He finds wandering in the wilderness (cf. Jn 10; Lk 15). When evangelization is carried out with the anointment and the style of mercy it receives a better hearing, and the heart opens more willingly to conversion. Indeed, we are touched in what we feel to need the most, namely pure, freely-given love, which is the wellspring of new life.

The third theme I wish to propose to you is preparation for the next year’s Ordinary Jubilee. It will be a Jubilee in which the power of hope should emerge. In a few weeks’ time I will publish the Apostolic Letter for its official proclamation: I hope that those pages will be able to help many people to reflect and above all to experience hope in a real way. This theological virtue has been seen poetically as the “little sister” among the other two, faith and charity, but without which these two do not flourish, do not express their best...

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