Evangelize by Making Strong Marriages, Cardinal Tells WYD Pilgrims

Cardinal Sean O’Malley says faith in Jesus does not mean ʻwarm fuzzies,ʼ but a responsibility to witness to the faith and evangelize in everyday life.

Thousands of pilgrims engage with Cardinal Sean O’Malley during a July 26 catechesis talk in the Vivo Rio center in Rio de Janeiro.
Thousands of pilgrims engage with Cardinal Sean O’Malley during a July 26 catechesis talk in the Vivo Rio center in Rio de Janeiro. (photo: Estefania Aguirre/CNA)

RIO DE JANEIRO — Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston encouraged thousands of pilgrims gathered for a World Youth Day catechesis talk in Rio de Janeiro to choose carefully, use the right criteria and remember their vocation as evangelizers when picking a spouse.

“Don’t marry someone because they’re rich or you share the same hobbies,” he said July 26 at the city’s entertainment venue, Vivo Rio. “Marry someone because you share the same sense of mission.”

“Get married to have children!” he told the young people present.

Millions of pilgrims from across the globe poured into Rio for the July 23-28 World Youth Day events, which included three mornings of catechesis sessions with various bishops.

Cardinal O’Malley advised about 5,000 English-speaking young adults gathered at his catechesis session to avoid the trap of the “hook-up culture” and of cohabitation.

“That’s just a train wreck waiting to happen,” he said. “When you’re looking for a spouse, pray to the Holy Spirit to find the right person and pray to be the right person.”

He also urged them to consider adoption, rather than abortion, in the case of a crisis pregnancy.

The cardinal interacted with the audience as he spoke of the importance of evangelizing in the West even more than in poorer countries.

“You need to be missionaries on the Internet, in schools, in neighborhoods, helping people find God,” he said.

“We have a big responsibility, and the first thing required is our own conversion, and that is not easy,” Cardinal O’Malley stated. “Actions speak louder than words; our actions must show love for God.”

He recalled attending a talk by Mother Teresa of Calcutta, and he said that he and his colleagues “felt the presence of God, and there wasn’t a dry eye in the auditorium.”

“If people see us in action, then they will be more willing to hear us,” he said.


Never Apologize for the Gospel

The cardinal declared that people should apologize for sins, but never apologize for the Gospel.

“Are you going to be that Catholic always apologizing for your faith  — or evangelizers?” he asked.

He then told them a Japanese parable of a rich man who had a beautiful house on a mountain and realized that a tsunami was going to kill people at the beach.

“He didn’t have time to go warn them, so he set his beautiful home on fire,” said Cardinal O’Malley.

The ones who climbed the mountain to rescue the rich man were saved from the tsunami, he explained, but the ones who stayed at the bottom died.

“When we climb a mountain to help someone’s soul, we feel we’re doing God a favor when, in fact, we could be saving our own,” he said.

The cardinal also cautioned, “Discipleship isn’t a solo flight.”

Rather, he said, “you learn it like you learn a language: You learn it through a community that speaks that language.”

While the road of evangelization is tough, Cardinal O’Malley said it was still important, adding that too many people consider themselves “spiritual but not religious.”

“Jesus didn’t come and die on the cross so we could just have warm fuzzies of singing songs of poetry,” he said.

“It’s about responsibility,” Cardinal O’Malley explained. “Your role as evangelizers begins now.”