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Pope Francis encourages lay people to value community, reach out to others

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Pope Francis encourages lay people to value community, reach out to others

By Filipe Domingues

ROME — In a message sent to a Catholic conference in Spain, Pope Francis encouraged lay people to fight individualism and to be protagonists of the “outgoing Church.”

“We are people of God, invited to live the faith not individually or in isolation, but in the community, as a people that is loved and dear to God,” he said in a message to participants of the National Laity Conference, organized by the Spanish bishops in Madrid, Feb. 14-16.

Through baptism, he added, each Christian is “incorporated” in the body of the Church and, therefore, must live up to the gifts received in baptism.

“For this, it is essential to be aware that we are part of a Christian community. We are not just one more group or an NGO, but the family of God summoned around the same Lord,” he said. To deepen their faith, lay people should experience liturgy and prayer in communion with the whole Church.

Living in community also means standing together against injustice and spreading hope among those who suffer, which requires a certain “bravery to go out” and to encounter others, he added.

The “outgoing people of God,” Pope Francis said, “is called to leave their comforts behind and take the step towards the other, trying to give a reason for hope, not with prefabricated answers, but with incarnated and contextualized answers, to make understandable and accessible the Truth that, as Christians, moves us and makes us happy.”

The pope encouraged lay Catholics to live their vocation without the “temptation to clericalism,” but bearing witness of their faith in daily life.

“Therefore, do not be afraid to go out onto the streets, enter every corner of society, reach the limits of the city, touch the wounds of our people,” he said. “This is the Church of God, which is ready to leave and to meet the other, without judgment, without condemnation, but by holding the other’s hand, offering sustenance, encouragement or, simply, accompanying the other in life. May the Lord’s command always resonate with you: ‘Go and preach the Gospel.’”

(Photo: Vatican Media)

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