EG 45: Seeking Effective Communication

Vasnetsov_Maria_MagdaleneIn his section on “A Mission Embodied Within Human Limits” in Evangelii Gaudium, Pope Francis summarizes this theme briefly:

45. We see then that the task of evangelization operates within the limits of language and of circumstances. It constantly seeks to communicate more effectively the truth of the Gospel in a specific context, without renouncing the truth, the goodness and the light which it can bring whenever perfection is not possible. A missionary heart is aware of these limits and makes itself “weak with the weak… everything for everyone” (1 Cor 9:22). It never closes itself off, never retreats into its own security, never opts for rigidity and defensiveness. It realizes that it has to grow in its own understanding of the Gospel and in discerning the paths of the Spirit, and so it always does what good it can, even if in the process, its shoes get soiled by the mud of the street.

If someone were to ask me for a summary of the pastoral philosophy of Pope Francis, I would point to this passage.

I know many Catholics, a few priests, nearly all good and devoted people, who have not been able to focus their kerygma (preaching) in an effective way. Certainly the message they offer is sound and orthodox. But the presentation of the faith is not effective. It lacks the “missionary heart” described above, closing itself off and retreating (on the internet, shutting down comments and banning troublesome visitors), rigid in applying the gospel, and defensive–literally “apologizing” for the faith: defining what faith is not based on the wrong things others do, rather than what faith stands for when rooted in Christ.

Pope Francis assesses we are all in need of growth and discernment, an appropriate attitude for mortal, flawed, and sinful servants.

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About catholicsensibility

Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
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