FROM THE SERVANT GENERAL
ON POPE FRANCIS
FIRST IS PROCLAMATION
November 8, 2013
Here are excerpts of the interview with Pope Francis by La Civitta Catholica in partnership with America magazine recently.
Pope Francis says, “The most important thing is the first proclamation: Jesus Christ has saved you.” The Church’s preaching must begin first with the “proclamation of salvation.” Then catechesis follows. Then “moralizing” follows.
This is our work in CFC/CFC-FFL and now additionally in LCSC. This addresses what is missing, which is the very first step, to proclaim the gospel. Then the richness of the Church’s offerings, including catechesis, can be offered. In most parishes, they have all the second steps, but not the first step. LCSC fills this lack. It proclaims the gospel in an effective way, with the goal of bringing lapsed Catholics back to God and back to the Church. Once back, then they can partake of the second steps.
Further, why are we not succeeding in convincing Catholics, who claim to be devout but are pro-choice, with our solid arguments against the culture of death? The answer is simple. These Catholics have not been evangelized. They have not met Christ in a personal way. They do not know Jesus. How did Norma McCorvey, the trigger to Roe v. Wade that opened the floodgates for abortion in the USA, become pro-life? She met Jesus.
So first is proclamation of the gospel. Then, when people are back to God and to the Church, they can be catechized. Then, when they become more knowledgeable about their faith, they can be convinced of our moral arguments on moral living. Obviously we would not strictly do #1 first, then #2, and only then #3. We need to do all 3 together. But without the essential first step, then catechism has no audience, and moralizing has no convincing power.
Paul already laid out the process of being saved. Read Romans 10:13-15a. One is sent, one preaches, one hears, one believes, one calls upon the name of the Lord, one is saved. Jesus got the ball rolling by sending his disciples, before he ascended into heaven. Peter preached and 3,000 were converted. We too are sent, so we need to preach, that is, to evangelize, to proclaim the good news of salvation in Jesus.
But why not just continue with the work of CFC-FFL; why do we need LCSC? CFC-FFL indeed will continue with its work, but the way to really rapid and massive evangelization is through LCSC. It is the way not just for us to truly be a servant to the Church, but to eventually help move the whole Church in the work of evangelization. The goal is to mainstream Catholic lay evangelization, based in the parishes. This cannot be done by CFC-FFL. But CFC-FFL can be the catalyst and backbone for this work.
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In the interview the Pope says that the Church’s preaching must begin first with the “proclamation of salvation.” “Then you have to do catechesis. Then you can draw even a moral consequence,” he said.
Other key lines from the Pope’s interview which pertain to this point include:
The church sometimes has locked itself up in small things, in small-minded rules. The most important thing is the first proclamation: Jesus Christ has saved you. And the ministers of the church must be ministers of mercy above all…
The dogmatic and moral teachings of the church are not all equivalent. The church’s pastoral ministry cannot be obsessed with the transmission of a disjointed multitude of doctrines to be imposed insistently.
Proclamation in a missionary style focuses on the essentials, on the necessary things: this is also what fascinates and attracts more, what makes the heart burn, as it did for the disciples at Emmaus.
We have to find a new balance; otherwise even the moral edifice of the church is likely to fall like a house of cards, losing the freshness and fragrance of the Gospel. The proposal of the Gospel must be more simple, profound, radiant. It is from this proposition that the moral consequences then flow.
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