Thursday 19 June 2014

Church has to grow through witness, not by proselytism

In January pope Francis I spoke about Benedict XVI who said that the Church grows through witness, not by proselytism.
Pope Benedict XVI in Portugal (Photo credit: Catholic Church (England and Wales))

Jesus gave the order to his disciples and to all who wanted to follow him, to go out in the world to preach the Gospel of the Kingdom of God.  Evry person calling himself a Christian, should know that this should mean to be a follower of Christ, should also follow those teachings and orders of that person.
The witness that can really attract is that associated with attitudes which are uncommon:
the pope said and named them:
generosity, detachment, sacrifice, self-forgetfulness in order to care for others. This is the witness, the “martyrdom” of religious life. It “sounds an alarm” for people.
When people are religious those people should make a life for themselves filled with with thinkings which are not always of this world. Looking at this world, we can not escape living in it but should be careful not to become 'of it'.
 “religious life ought to promote growth in the Church by way of attraction."
continued the pope.
“The Church,” therefore, “ must be attractive. Wake up the world! Be witnesses of a different way of doing things, of acting, of living! It is possible to live differently in this world. We are speaking of an eschatological outlook, of the values of the Kingdom incarnated here, on this earth. It is a question of leaving everything to follow the Lord
The pope did not want to say “radical.”
Evangelical radicalness is not only for religious: it is demanded of all. But religious follow the Lord in a special way, in a prophetic way. It is this witness that I expect of you. Religious should be men and women who are able to wake the world up.”
 Pope Francis has returned in a circular fashion to concepts that he has already touched on, exploring them more deeply. In fact he continued:
“You should be real witnesses of a way of doing and acting differently. But in life it is difficult for everything to be clear, precise, outlined neatly. Life is complicated; it consists of grace and sin. He who does not sin is not human. We all make mistakes and we need to recognize our weakness. A religious who recognizes himself as weak and a sinner does not negate the witness that he is called to give, rather he reinforces it, and this is good for everyone. What I expect of you therefore is to give witness.
The pope wants this special witness from religious people and warns them to look out not to restrict themselves to dogmatic teachings endangering them to go into fundamentalism.

From the "Wake up the world" press conference January 2014

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