ROME — Pope Francis reminded members of Catholic lay movements Thursday that every baptized Christian has the mission to evangelize and preach the gospel.
Evangelization “is a mandate that comes from baptism,” the pope told the group assembled in the Vatican’s Synod Hall, and “whoever has been baptized has the task of evangelizing.”
Because of this, lay Christians should not “wait for the priest to come and evangelize,” because every believer partakes in this task.
“The whole Church is apostolic,” states the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and all “members of the Church share in this mission.”
“The Christian vocation is, of its nature, a vocation to the apostolate as well,” it declares.
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Reborn as sons and daughters of God, the baptized “must profess before men the faith they have received from God through the Church and participate in the apostolic and missionary activity of the People of God,” it reiterates.
Moreover, the Catechism notes expressly that “lay Christians are entrusted by God with the apostolate by virtue of their Baptism and Confirmation” and therefore “have the right and duty, individually or grouped in associations, to work so that the divine message of salvation may be known and accepted by all men throughout the earth.”
In his address Thursday, the pontiff went on to thank and congratulate his hearers for their steadfast commitment to the gospel even in the midst of hardships.
“Thank you for your presence as lay people, men and women, young and old, committed to living and bearing witness to the Gospel in the ordinary realities of life, in your work, in many different contexts,” he said.
“In recent months, you have seen with your own eyes and touched the suffering and anguish of so many men and women due to the pandemic,” the pope said.
“I am grateful to you because you did not stop: you did not stop bringing your solidarity, your help, the evangelical witness even in the hardest months, when the infections were very high,” he said.
Despite all the difficulties, “you have not given up, on the contrary, I know that many of you have multiplied your commitment, adapting to the concrete situations that you had and are facing, with that creativity that comes from love,” he added.
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Despite the limitations and sins of every day, “you are a clear sign of the vitality of the Church: you represent a missionary force and a presence of prophecy that gives us hope for the future,” he said.
Together with your pastors, “you have the responsibility of building the future of the holy faithful people of God,” he added.
Each one, wherever he is placed by the Lord, is called to make his gifts grow, “to make them bear fruit, confident that it is God who works everything in all and that our true good bears fruit in ecclesial communion,” he said.