Pope Francis has issued a rallying cry to Catholics urging them to not allow a rigid adherence to rules to turn the Church into a museum.
In a landmark new document on the call to holiness for all believers Rejoice and be Glad, Pope Francis also insisted that priests much become “passionate missionaries” rather than bureaucrats sitting behind a desk.
He also said that Catholics must not be afraid of change. However, the Pontiff also warns that people need to discern whether new thinking is from God or “an illusion created by the spirit of this world or the spirit of the devil”.
The Pope insists that sometimes “the forces of evil induce us not to change, to leave things as they are, to opt for a rigid resistance to change.
“Yet that would be to block the working of the Spirit,” he writes.
On the role of clergy, the Pope writes that “we are inspired to act by the example of all those priests, religious, and laity who devote themselves to proclamation and to serving others with great fidelity, often at the risk of their lives and certainly at the cost of their comfort.”
“Their testimony reminds us that, more than bureaucrats and functionaries, the Church needs passionate missionaries, enthusiastic about sharing true life.”
The Pope warns that too often “the life of the Church can become a museum piece or the possession of a select few.
“This can occur when some groups of Christians give excessive importance to certain rules, customs or ways of acting. The Gospel then tends to be reduced and constricted, deprived of its simplicity, allure and savour,” he insists.
Welcoming the emphasis in the document on the fact that holiness is for everyone, Primate of All-Ireland Archbishop Eamon Martin said the Pope has “reinforced this essential teaching of Vatican II and reinterpreted it for the contemporary world.
Archbishop Eamon said the exhortation “is a great opportunity for all of us, lay, ordained and consecrated, to refocus our lives on what is the central point of our faith in Jesus.”
Read bitesize extracts from Pope Francis’ new apostolic exhortation ‘Rejoice and be Glad’ here.