The Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano published remarks on Jan. 4 by two Italian bishops who urged Catholics to spread the Gospel in local shopping malls.
“Each mall is located within the territory of a specific parish and thus they are places for the new evangelization which pastors must not ignore,” said Archbishop Rino Fisichella, president of the Pontifical Council for the New Evangelization.
“The lights of shopping malls can thrill people and make them believe they can run away from their problems, he added. “But this is not possible. All men and women carry a nostalgia for God in their hearts and are ever seeking after Him.”
Reporter Fabrizio Contessa included reflections in his article by Archbishop Fisichella as well as Archbishop Cesare Nosiglia of Turin. The former archbishop celebrated a Mass before Christmas at one of Rome’s largest malls, while Archbishop Nosiglia opened several mall chapels on Jan. 3.
Archbishop Fisichella clarified in his comments that although malls should not be overlooked as places in need of ministry, they should also not be considered as alternatives to parishes.
The news comes as the two bishops attend a meeting in Rome this week organized by the Pontifical Council for the New Evangelization. Both men are also involved in the “Metropolis Mission,” aimed at promoting the work of evangelization in 12 European cities that have been traditionally Christian but have become increasingly secularized.
Contessa observed in his piece that malls in Italy have surpassed city squares and plazas as the places where people congregate, and that this shift “should not be ignored by those with pastoral responsibilities.”