Vatican

Francis to Italian catechists: "Renew the spirit of proclamation".

Pope Francis granted an audience to the heads of the Catechetical Office of the Italian Bishops' Conference, on the 60th anniversary of the beginning of its activity.

David Fernández Alonso-January 31, 2021-Reading time: 4 minutes
catechesis

On the 60th anniversary of the beginning of the activity of the Catechetical Office of the Italian Episcopal Conference (CEI), Pope Francis granted an audience to its heads. This organism is destined to help the Italian Church in the field of catechesis after the Second Vatican Council.

An anniversary that, not only serves as a reminder, but is also an opportunity to "celebrate the anniversary".renewing the spirit of the announcement"The Pope told them in his speech, which is why he expressed to them his intention to "share three points that I hope will help you in your work over the next few years".

Jesus Christ at the center of catechesis

The first point es: catechesis and kerygma. "Catechesis is the echo of God's Word"Through Sacred Scripture, each person becomes part of the "the same salvation story"and with its own uniqueness".finds its own rhythm".

He also emphasized that the heart of the mystery of salvation is the kerygmaand that the kerygma is a person: Jesus Christ. Catechesis, therefore, must be "to bring about a personal encounter with Him"and, therefore, it cannot be done without personal relationships.

"There is no true catechesis without the witness of men and women of flesh and blood. Who among us does not remember at least one of his catechists? I do. I remember the nun who prepared me for my first communion and who did me so much good. The first protagonists of catechesis are the catechists, messengers of the Gospel, often lay people, who generously put themselves on the line to share the beauty of having encountered Jesus. Who is the catechist? He is the one who keeps and nourishes the memory of God; he keeps it in himself - he is a reminder of the history of salvation - and knows how to awaken this memory in others. He is a Christian who puts this memory at the service of proclamation; not to be seen, not to speak of himself, but to speak of God, of his love, of his fidelity."

The proclamation is the love of God in the language of the heart.

The Pope then indicated some characteristics that the proclamation should possess today. May he know how to reveal the love of GodIt should not be imposed, but should take freedom into account; it should be a witness to joy and vitality. To this end, the evangelizer must express "closeness, openness to dialogue, patience, a cordial welcome that does not condemn".

And speaking of the catechist, Francis added that ".faith must be transmitted in dialect", explaining that he was referring to the "dialect of proximity"The dialect understood by the people you are addressing:

"I am so moved by that passage in Maccabees, about the Seven Brothers. Two or three times they said that their mother supported them by speaking to them in dialect. It is important: the true faith must be transmitted in dialect. Catechists must learn to transmit it in dialect, that is, that language that comes from the heart, that is born, that is the most familiar, the closest to everyone. If there is no dialect, the faith is neither fully nor well transmitted."

Looking with gratitude to the Council

The second point Pope Francis indicated was catechesis and the future. Recalling the 50th anniversary of the document "Renewal of catechesis"In his address, with which the Italian Bishops' Conference acknowledged the indications of the Council, held last year, Francis quoted some words of Pope Paul VI. In these words invited the Italian Church to look to the Council with gratitudeof which he said "will be the great catechism of the new times."and observed that the constant task of catechesis is to "to understand these problems that arise from the heart of man, in order to redirect them to their hidden source: the gift of love that creates and saves."

For this reason, Francis reiterated that the catechesis inspired by the Council must be "always with an attentive ear, always attentive to renewal". And on the theme of the Council he added a broad reflection:

"The Council is the Magisterium of the Church. Either you are with the Church and therefore you follow the Council, and if you do not follow the Council or you interpret it in your own way, at your will, you are not with the Church. We must be demanding and strict on this point. No, the Council should not be negotiated to have more than these... No, the Council is like this. And this problem that we are experiencing, of selectivity of the Council, has been repeated throughout history with other Councils.

It makes me think so much of a group of bishops who after Vatican I left, a group of lay people, groups there, to continue the "true doctrine" which was not that of Vatican I. "We are the true Catholics"... Today they ordain women. The strictest attitude of guarding the faith without the Magisterium of the Church, leads you to ruin. Please, no concessions to those who try to present a catechesis that is not in accord with the Magisterium of the Church."

Speaking today's language

The Pope also said that catechesis, taking up the reading of the speech he had prepared, must be renewed in order to influence all areas of pastoral work. And he recommended:

"We must not be afraid to speak the language of the women and men of today. Yes, to speak the language outside the Church: of this, we must not be afraid. We must not be afraid to speak the language of the people. We must not be afraid to listen to their questions, whatever they may be, their unresolved questions, to listen to their frailties and their uncertainties: of this we are not afraid. We must not be afraid to develop new instruments".

Rediscovering the meaning of community

Catechesis and community represent the third pointThis is particularly relevant at a time when, due to the pandemic, isolation and feelings of loneliness are on the rise.

"The virus has undermined the living fabric of our territories, especially the existential ones, feeding fears, suspicions, distrust and uncertainty. It has undermined established practices and habits and thus made us rethink our community being. It has also made us realize that only together can we move forward, taking care of each other. We must rediscover the sense of community".

An advertisementor to look to the future

The Pope recalled what he said at the Ecclesial Congress in Florence, reiterating his desire for a Church "... that is, a Church that is not only a Church, but a Church that is not only a Church...".increasingly close to the abandoned, to the forgotten, to the imperfect"a joyful Church that "understand, accompany and caress." And this, he continued, "also applies to catechesis". And he urged creativity for an advertisement focused on the kerygma, "that looks to the future of our communities, so that they may be more and more rooted in the Gospel, fraternal and inclusive.".

The beginning of a synodal journey

In conclusion, the Holy Father invited, five years after the Florence Congress, the Church in Italy to initiate a synodal process at the national levelcommunity by community, diocese by diocese. In the Florence Congress is precisely the intuition of the path to follow in this Synod. "Now, take it back: it is time. And start walking".

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