Pope Francis said Wednesday that there is no option to be “passive subjects” when it comes to evangelization because every baptized Catholic has a mission to actively proclaim the Gospel.
“There are not those who preach, those who proclaim the Gospel in one way or another, and those who keep silent. No. Every baptized person … whatever his position in the Church or level of education in the faith, is an active subject of evangelization,” he said on March 8.
“Are you Christian? ‘Yes, I received baptism …’ And do you evangelize?” the pope asked.
“By virtue of the baptism received and the consequent incorporation into the Church, every baptized person participates in the mission of the Church and, in it, in the mission of Christ the king, priest, and prophet,” he said.
In his weekly Wednesday audience in St. Peter’s Square, Pope Francis encouraged Catholics to reflect on the Second Vatican Council’s decree on missionary activity, Ad gentes (To the nations), which he said “reminds us that it is the task of the Church to continue the mission of Christ, who was ‘sent to preach the Gospel to the poor.’”
Quoting Ad gentes, he said: “‘The Church, prompted by the Holy Spirit, must walk in the same path on which Christ walked: a path of poverty and obedience, of service and self-sacrifice to the death, from which death he came forth a victor by his resurrection.’”
Pope Francis added that preaching the Gospel should be done in community and should never be a solitary or individualistic task independent of the Church.
“Today we listen to the Second Vatican Council to discover that evangelizing is always an ecclesial service, never solitary, never isolated or individualistic,” he said.
He also warned of the temptation to follow “easier pseudo-ecclesial paths” or to “adopt the worldly logic of numbers and polls.”
The pope underlined that evangelizing the faith that one has received from the Church ensures “the authenticity of Christian proclamation.” He added that evangelization should always be done “in the community and without proselytizing because that is not evangelization.”
The livestreamed address was the seventh in Pope Francis’ cycle of catechesis on “the passion for evangelization” and the first general papal audience held outdoors in 2023.
Children joined Pope Francis in the popemobile as it made its way around St. Peter’s Square as pilgrims from around the world waved and cheered.
At the end of the audience, Pope Francis shared a message for International Women’s Day, a holiday adopted by the United Nations in 1977.
“On International Women’s Day, 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 tender heart. This is a privilege of women alone! A special blessing for all the women in the piazza. And a round of applause for the women. They deserve it!” Francis said.
The pope also encouraged people to continue praying for war-torn Ukraine during Lent.
“In these days of Lent, let us walk even more courageously in Christ’s footsteps, trying to imitate his humility and fidelity to the divine will,” he said.
“And please, dear brothers and sisters, do not forget the pain of the martyred Ukrainian people, they suffer so much. Let us always have them present in our hearts and prayers.”
Courtney Mares is a Rome Correspondent for Catholic News Agency. A graduate of Harvard University, she has reported from news bureaus on three continents and was awarded the Gardner Fellowship for her work with North Korean refugees.
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