CNS PHOTO | COURTESY OF KNIGHTS OF COLUMBUS
San Antonio Archbishop Gustavo Garcia-Siller greets Knights of Columbus and their family members during the Catholic organization's annual convention Aug. 6 in San Antonio.
Boston Cardinal Sean O'Malley highlighted the New Evangelization in the pontificate of Pope Francis in an Aug. 6 address to the Knights of Columbus supreme convention in San Antonio, Texas.
"Following Pope John Paul and Pope Benedict, Pope Francis is challenging us to embrace the New Evangelization with new ardour, with new boldness and with great love for all those who God places in our path. He is calling on all of us to be missionaries in our own communities," he said in his keynote address.
"In this new millennium, business as usual is not enough. We must be a team of missionaries, moving from a maintenance mode to a missionary one."
He told his listeners they must ask themselves, "What does it mean to live in a culture of unbelief; a culture which does not even know it does not believe because it still lives on the residue of Christian civilization?"
O'Malley replied, "Pope Francis is ever warning against a self-referential Church turned in on itself. He tells us to open the doors, to invite others in so that we can go out and invite."
The cardinal emphasized that being a faithful disciple of Jesus Christ in the Catholic Church "is much more than a head trip." It is a way of life together; and the whole person is engaged in the process.
Education for the journey must therefore be experiential, personal, engaging and life-giving, he added. "We learn discipleship the way we learn a language, by being part of a community that speaks that language."
"In today's world, we must promote the Catholic way of life, which is increasingly alien in the secular world, where our concern about unborn children or the sacredness of marriage makes us appear quaint and even nettlesome," he explained.
"We need mentors: parents, grandparents, godparents, teachers, youth ministers, neighbours, who are ready to pass on the faith."
Noting that "some people think that the Holy Father should talk more about abortion," O'Malley said he thinks Pope Francis "speaks of love and mercy to give people the context for the Church's teaching on abortion.
"We oppose abortion, not because we are mean or old-fashioned, but because we love people. And that is what we must show the world."
He continued, "We must be better people; we must love all people, even those who advocate abortion.
"It is only if we love them that we will be able to help them discover the sacredness of the life of an unborn child. Only love and mercy will open hearts that have been hardened by the individualism of our age."
O'Malley spoke of the significance of the Holy Father's first trip as pope to the Italian island of Lampedusa to underscore his concern for the plight of immigrants.
There, Pope Francis talked about the globalization of indifference - indifference to the suffering of others, to the fate of the unborn, the elderly, the handicapped, the mentally ill and the immigrants, the cardinal noted.
We must overcome this indifference and help people to see that the church's teaching is about loving and caring for everyone, he explained.