Pope Francis Wants an ‘Evangelical Church’ in the United States, Papal Nuncio Says

Archbishop Pierre said that the U.S. bishops' Eucharistic Revival is an opportunity for the Church to celebrate the 'nuptial joy of a community that is loved by the Lord, of a community that evangelizes and that is herself evangelized.'

(photo: Screenshot from USCCB video)

BALTIMORE — Archbishop Christophe Pierre, the papal nuncio to the United States, reminded the U.S. bishops Tuesday at their semi-annual meeting of Pope Francis’ “closeness,” while giving them encouragement in a post-Roe world and exhorting them to a life of evangelization.

“I greet you in the name of Pope Francis, assuring you of his closeness, fraternal support, and prayers as you gather for this Plenary Assembly of the Episcopal Conference,” Archbishop Pierre said at the U.S. bishops’ conference in Baltimore at the Baltimore Marriott Waterfront Hotel. 

Citing an address of Pope Francis, then Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, Archbishop Pierre said: “When the Church does not go out of herself to evangelize, she becomes self-referential, and then she gets sick.”

Archbishop Pierre then cited a passage from Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium and noted that “Pope Francis encouraged us to be a missionary Church that goes forth to announce the joyful message, more deeply committed to her mission than to maintenance of structures that may no longer adequately serve the mission.”

Archbishop Pierre said that the Holy Father desires the image of “a poor Church for the poor” and an “evangelical Church.”

Archbishop Pierre continued his speech with the theme of evangelization, citing a 2013 interview that Pope Francis gave in which the Holy Father said: “Evangelizing, in fact, is the grace and vocation proper to the Church, her deepest identity. She exists to evangelize.”

Archbishop Pierre said that the synodal process should be “understood in a missionary key.” 

Archbishop Pierre asked the bishops “Does the Church in the United States understand herself in this way, especially as we live through a time of accelerated change?”

A way to answer this question is by examining the evangelical character of local parishes, he said. 

“Do we go forth and take the initiative? Do we get involved? Do we accompany others, showing patience? What are the fruits that we are seeing from our evangelizing efforts? Finally, do our local churches demonstrate the joy, which flows from the Eucharist?” he said.

Archbishop Pierre said that the U.S. bishops' Eucharistic Revival is an opportunity for the Church to celebrate the “nuptial joy of a community that is loved by the Lord, of a community that evangelizes and that is herself evangelized.”

He added “Let the Eucharistic Revival be lived in this light — as an evangelizing moment!”

Archbishop Pierre noted Pope Francis’ warning that there are “barriers” that limit the experience of joy and that limit evangelization. One barrier is “our own internal structures which are always in need of pastoral and missionary conversion for evangelization, rather than for the Church’s self-preservation,” he said. 

Another barrier is sin, he added. 

Archbishop Pierre said that the U.S. Church has been “prophetic in its openness toward those suffering from a humanitarian crisis at the border” and added that “it has been passionate in its defense of the unborn.”

Archbishop Pierre said that, now that Roe v. Wade is overturned, the U.S. bishops’ pro-life initiative Walking with Moms in Need “takes on new importance in showing forth the maternal tenderness of the Church for all her children, demonstrating that the priority is mercy rather than cold judgment.”

He continued: “Pope Francis, then, is calling us to be a missionary Church that encourages everyone to be an evangelist.” 

Archbishop Pierre noted that in his latest apostolic letter, Desiderio desideravi, Pope Francis calls for “greater liturgical formation, not only of the clergy, but of the laity.” 

Archbishop Pierre added that there is a “brokenness of the human family.” 

“The recent synodal report indicates that many of our own people — for varied reasons — have difficulties accepting Church teaching,” he said.

It’s important to teach “in a more attractive and comprehensible way” while also accompanying those in their faith journey, he said. Archbishop Pierre said that people must be respected, “not by abolishing objective standards of morality” but by helping others recognize the call to holiness.

Archbishop Pierre said that “the path forward … ultimately requires an adequate anthropological vision. Pope Francis rightly laments the throwaway culture, offering in its place the broader vision of the Gospel, which is truly good news about man and woman, about marriage and family life, and about the human person in relationship to all of creation.”

“We cannot be silent about these fundamental and saving truths,” he said. 

“Without imposing a homogeneity, the Church in the United States can integrate the gifts of the People of God through dialogue and with patience, thus living in a creative tension,” he said.

Newly-elected Pope Francis bows his head in prayer as he appears on the central balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica on March 13, 2013, in Vatican City.

The 10th Anniversary of Pope Francis’ Pontificate (March 18)

Ten years ago on March 13, the 265th Successor of Peter walked out for the first time onto the Balcony of Blessing at St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican. Before he gave his customary first blessing as the new Bishop of Rome, he asked for a “favor” — that is, for us to pray for him. His 10th anniversary reminds us that we should renew our prayers for our Holy Father. On today’s show Register columnist Father Raymond J. De Souza examines the highlights and lowlights of Pope Francis’ pontificate and then, along with Register Senior Editor Jonathan Liedl, we look at one of Francis’ biggest challenges: the German Synodal Way.