Vatican City, 6 March 2015 (VIS) – This morning in the Paul VI Hall Pope Francis received in audience seven thousand members of the Neocatechumenal Way, including two hundred families who will shortly depart on the “missio ad gentes”. “The task of the Pope is to confirm brothers in the faith”, said the Holy Father. “You too, with this gesture, have asked Peter's Successor to confirm your calling, to support your mission, to bless your charism. And today I confirm your calling, I support your mission, and I bless your charism. Because I am happy to do so! Go in the name of Christ, and take his Gospel all round the world”.
As well as from the cardinals and bishops who accompanied the Neocatechumenals, the Pope also gave special greetings to the organisers of the Way: Kiko Arguello and Carmen Hernandez, along with Fr. Mario Pezzi, and expressed his appreciation and encouragement “for all that, via the Way, you do for the good of the Church”.
“Our meeting today is a missionary response in obedience to Christ's instruction; 'Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptised will be saved'. And I am particularly content that this mission of yours will be carried out thanks to Christian families who, joined together in a community, have the mission of giving the signs of the faith that attract men to the beauty of the Gospel. … These communities are formed of a presbyter and four or five families with children, some of whom are fully grown, and constitute a 'missio ad gentes', with a mandate to evangelise non-Christians. To those non-Christians who have never heard of Jesus Christ, and the many non-Christians who have forgotten who Jesus Christ was, who He was: non-Christians who have been baptised but have forgotten their faith on account of secularisation, worldliness and many other things. Let us reawaken that faith!”
“Therefore, even prior to the word, it is your witness of life that demonstrates the heart of Christ's revelation: that God loves man to the extent of delivering Him to death, and that He was resurrected by the Father to give us the grace of offering our life to others. How much solitude, how much suffering, how much distance from God there is in many peripheries of Europe and America, and in many cities of Asia! How great is humanity's need, in every latitude, to hear that God loves us and that love is possible! These Christian communities, thanks to you, missionary families, have the essential task of making this message visible. And what is the message? 'Christ is risen, Christ lives! Christ lives among us!'”
“You have received the strength to leave everything and to depart for distant lands thanks to a path of Christian initiation, lived in small communities, where you have rediscovered the immense richness of your Baptism. This is the Neocatechumenal Way, a true gift of Providence to the Church in our time”, affirmed the Pope, “which rests on the three dimensions of the Church: the Word, the Liturgy and the Community. Therefore, obediently and constantly listening to the Word of God; the Eucharistic celebration in small communities after the first Vespers of Sunday; the celebration of Lauds within the family on Sunday with all children, and the sharing of faith with other brothers are at the origin of the many gifts that the Lord has bestowed to you, along with many vocations to the presbytery and to consecrated life”.
“On a number of occasions I have insisted on the need for the Church to pass from a pastoral ministry of simple conversion to a decisively missionary pastoral ministry. How often, in the Church, do we hold Jesus inside but fail to let Him out? This is the most important thing to do if we do not want the waters of the Church to stagnate. The Way has been carrying out this 'missio ad gentes' amid non-Christians for years now, by means of an 'implantatio Ecclesiae', a new presence of the Church, where the Church does not exist or is unable to reach people. 'What joy you give us through your presence and your activity!', exclaimed Blessed Paul VI in his first audience with you. I too offer you these words and encourage you to continue, entrusting you to the Holy Virgin Mary who inspired the Neocatechumenal Way”.