Pope Francis encourages missionaries

Pope Francis received members of the Catholic missionary movement the Neocatechumenal Way March 6. The Pope thanked them for the great benefit they bring to the Church. The following is an excerpt.

Peter's task is to confirm his brothers and sisters in the faith. So you too have wanted with this gesture to ask the Successor of Peter to confirm your call, to support your mission, to bless your charism. And I want to confirm your call, support your mission, and bless your charism.

I'm doing that, not because I've been paid to, no! I'm doing it because I want to. You will go forth in the name of Christ into the world to bring His Gospel: Christ will precede, Christ will accompany, and Christ will fulfill the salvation of which you are bearers!

In particular I greet the initiators of the Neocatechumenal Way, Kiko Arguello and Carmen Hernandez, with Father Mario Pezzi. I always say that the Neocatechumenal Way does great good in the Church.

As Kiko said, our meeting today is a missionary commissioning, in obedience to what Christ asked us: "Go into the whole world and proclaim the Gospel to every creature." And I am particularly glad that this mission is carried out thanks to Christian families, united in a community.

These communities, called by the bishops, are formed by a priest and four or five families, with children, including grown-up ones, and are a missio ad gentes with a mandate to evangelize non-Christians: non-Christians who've never heard about Jesus Christ and the many non-Christians who've forgotten who Jesus Christ is; baptized non-Christians who've forgotten their faith because of secularization, worldliness, and many other things.

Re-awaken that faith! Even before words, it is your witness of life that manifests the heart of Christ's revelation: that God loves man to the point of laying down His life for us, and that He was raised by the Father to give us the grace to give our lives for others. Today's world badly needs this great message.

You have received the strength to leave everything behind and set off for distant lands through a process of Christian initiation, experienced and lived in small communities, where you have rediscovered the immense riches of your baptism. This is the Neocatechumenal Way, a true gift of Providence to the Church of our time.

The Way is based on the three dimensions of the Church, which are the Word, liturgy, and community. So obedient and constant listening to the Word of God, the Eucharistic celebration in small community after the first Vespers of Sunday, the family celebration of lauds on Sunday with all the children gathered round and sharing their faith with other brothers and sisters, are at the origin of the many gifts the Lord has given to you, as well as the many vocations to the priesthood and consecrated life.

It is a great consolation to see all of this, because it confirms that the Spirit of God is alive and active in His Church, even today, and that He meets the needs of modern man.

On several occasions I have insisted that the Church has to move from a pastoral ministry of simple conservation to a decidedly missionary pastoral focus. How many times, within the Church, do we keep Jesus inside and don't let Him go out. How many times!

This is the most important thing to do if we do not want the waters to stagnate within the Church.

"How much joy you give us with your presence and your activity!" said Blessed Pope Paul VI during his very first audience with you. I also make these words my own, and encourage you to move forward, entrusting you to the Blessed Virgin Mary, who inspired the Neocatechumenal Way. May she intercede for you with her divine Son.