pastoral ministry in a missionary key

An Advent Journey with Pope Francis and Evangelii Gaudium, Part 14

Pastoral ministry in a missionary style is not obsessed with the disjointed transmission of a multitude of doctrines to be insistently imposed. (Evangelii Gaudium, 35)

Catholic doctrine and teachings are too often presented out of context. Pope Francis reminds us that we must “not assume that our audience understands the full background to what we are saying, or is capable of relating what we say to the very heart of the Gospel which gives it meaning, beauty and attractiveness.”

We cannot demand obedience or belief without understanding. We cannot promote morality as a long list of “thou shalt not’s” with no connection to the gospel message of love and mercy. We cannot expect a message to be accepted unless the inherent beauty and wisdom of the message is understood.

Francis is calling us to simplify the message “while losing none of its depth and truth, and thus becoming all the more forceful and convincing.” He also models how to do this. His words are clear, simple, and few. He uses images that are recognizable and nudge us to better assimilate the message. He does not couch his talks in dense theological musings. And, surprisingly enough, the world seems to be listening.