From “Ireland’s Biggest FREE Newspaper” ALIVE!
Again and again on his recent trip to Portugal Pope Benedict tried to waken up Catholics to God’s call to them to proclaim Christian hope in today’s secularist world. And to not be afraid of criticism or ridicule.
“The faith,” he said, “needs to come alive in each one of us. A vast effort at every level is required if every Christian is to be transformed into a witness capable of giving an account to all of the hope that inspires him.”
And he described Fatima as being “like a window of hope that God opens when man closes the door to him.”
Speaking to artists Benedict explained that the Church’s “key mission in today’s culture is to keep alive the search for truth, and thus for God; to bring people to look beyond penultimate realities and to seek those that are ultimate.”
It is sometimes assumed that Benedict accepts the idea of a smaller Church with a strong identity. “But he made it clear in Portugal that ‘pruning back’ is not his strategic goal,” said one reporter.
Rather, the Holy Father encouraged young people to bear witness to all their contemporaries to the joy that Christ’s strong, gentle presence evokes.
“Tell them that it is beautiful to be a friend of Jesus and that it is well worth following him,” he said.
“Show, with your enthusiasm, that, among all the different ways of life which the world offers us, the only way in which we find the true meaning of life and hence true and lasting joy, is by following Jesus.”
The Pope noted that the Church “has some quarrelsome and even rebellious sons and daughters,” but it is in the saints that she recognises “her most characteristic features, it is in them that she tastes her deepest joy.”
Benedict was in Portugal for the 10th anniversary of the beatification of the two youngest visionaries, Francesco Marto (aged 10 when he died in 1919) and his sister Jacinta (aged 9 when she died in 1920).
He was concerned that individuals and agencies could go on thinking they were Catholic when, in fact they had lost the faith and their very identity.
Catholic agencies need to make sure they protect their Catholic identity and keep “a proper synthesis of spiritual life and apostolic activity,” said the Pope.
“Pressure from today’s culture, which constantly holds up a lifestyle based on the law of the stronger, on easy and attractive gain, ends up influencing our ways of thinking, our projects and the goals of our service,” he cautioned.
It also “risks emptying them of the motivation of faith and Christian hope which had originally inspired them,” he told a gathering of Catholic helpers and volunteers.
Benedict has spoken a number of times about the danger of groups losing their Catholic identity, as happened with several groups in Ireland.
The Holy Father is expected to announce shortly that he is creating a special ‘Council for New Evangelisation’ aimed at promoting a stronger missionary outreach in once Christian countries.
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