New Evangelizers, Love Christ

Pope: Sharing the Gospel is effective when people live the truth.

(photo: Shutterstock)

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Evangelization will be effective only when the people spreading the Gospel truly believe and live Christ’s message themselves, Pope Benedict XVI said.

God needs to be at the center of every person’s life, he said Feb. 18 during a meeting with bishops from the Philippines, who were making ad limina visits to report on the status of their dioceses.

A pastor’s preaching “must be personal in its focus so that each Catholic will grasp in his or her innermost depths the life-transforming fact that God exists, that he loves us, and that in Christ he answers the deepest questions of our lives,” the Pope said.

The great task of evangelization is “to propose a personal relationship with Christ as key to complete fulfillment,” he said.

“New initiatives in evangelization will only be fruitful if, by the grace of God, those proposing them are people who truly believe and live the message of the Gospel themselves,” Pope Benedict said.

When lay groups and other Church communities are made up of and guided by “people whose motivating force is the love of Christ,” they prove to be “worthy tools of evangelization,” he said.

The Pope asked the bishops to “take special care in shepherding such groups so that the primacy of God may remain in the forefront.”

He praised the important role faith plays in the life of young Filipinos and asked the bishops to keep reminding young people that “the glamour of this world will not satisfy their natural desire for happiness.”

“Only true friendship with God will break the bonds of loneliness from which our fragile humanity suffers and will establish a true and lasting communion with others, a spiritual bond that will readily prompt within us the wish to serve the needs of those we love in Christ,” he said.

Extra care must be given to showing young people the importance of the sacraments “as instruments of God’s grace and assistance,” especially the sacrament of matrimony which, by sanctifying married life with God’s presence, helps young couples in their struggles, he said.

When God is first and foremost in the hearts and lives of young people, they will hear God’s call to a vocation in marriage or in priestly or religious life, he said.

In his speech to the Pope, Archbishop Jose Palma of Cebu, the vice president of the Philippines Catholic Bishops’ Conference, saying he was speaking on behalf of the Church in the Philippines and Asia, extended “our most sincere invitation to Your Holiness to visit your sons and daughters in our country and in our continent.”