OUR EFFORTS TO HEAL THE WOUNDS OF SOCIETY WILL DEPEND ON OUR CAPACITY TO LOVE AND TO BE FAITHFUL TO OUR MISSION
“Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston has said in an address to the Knights of Columbus that truth is a ‘warm cape’ to strengthen a person, not a ‘wet rag’ thrown in their face.
He was giving the keynote address at the Knights of Columbus supreme convention in San Antonio,Texas. The Knights of Columbus, founded in 1888, is the largest Catholic lay organisation in the world, with 1,8 million members.
In his address, which focused on the new evangelisation under Pope Francis, he said that ‘truth is not a wet rag that you throw in someone’s face, but a warm cape you wrap around a person to protect and strengthen them’.
‘MERCY AND TRUTH’
He cited the post-abortion ministry Project Rachel as being the kind of combination of mercy and truth that the Church’s pro-life efforts need to be about.
‘Our efforts to heal the wounds of society will depend on our capacity to love and to be faithful to our mission,’ the cardinal insisted.
He said Pope Francis was challenging Catholics to ’embrace the new evangelisation 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.
‘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 said.
He told his listeners that 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 civilisation?’
Cardinal O’Malley added: ‘Pope Francis is ever warning against a self-referential Church turned in on itself. He tells us to open the doors…so that we can go out and invite.
‘MUCH MORE THAN A HEAD TRIP’
The cardinal emphasised 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, he said.
THE CATHOLIC WAY OF LIFE
Education for the journey must therefore be experiental, 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.’ The Boston archbishop stressed that young Catholics must be mentored in the faith by others, either peers or older Catholics who are walking the walk.
GOODNESS AND TENDERNESS IS A SIGN OF STRENGTH OF SPIRIT
‘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.
According to the cardinal, Pope Francis is calling on Catholics to embrace the vision of reality that is the Church’s faith and that values each and every human being, and stresses responsibility to love and serve each other, especially the most vulnerable.
The word that Pope Francis repeats over and over, he said, is ‘tenerezza’, or tenderness.
In his inaugural Mass on the feast of St Joseph, Cardinal O’Malley recalled, the Pontiff spoke about protecting people, showing loving concern for each and every person, especially children, the elderly, those in need. The Pope said: ‘We must not be afraid of goodness or tenderness.’
Cardinal O’Malley said: ‘He points to the heart of Joseph, his tenderness which is not the virtue of the weak but a sign of strength of spirit and a capacity for concern and compassion, for genuine openness to others, for love.’
WE LOVE PEOPLE
Noting that ‘some people think that the Holy Father should talk more about abortion’, Cardinal 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 life.'”
– This article was published in “The Catholic Herald” issue August 16 2013. For subscriptions please visit http://www.catholicherald.co.uk