VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Like Jesus who dined with Pharisees and sinners and St. Paul who preached to idol worshippers, true evangelizers build bridges that lead unbelievers into the church, not walls to protect it, Pope Francis said.
The pope’s words came in a homily May 8 during morning Mass in the Domus Sanctae Marthae, the Vatican guesthouse where he lives. The Vatican employees present included those responsible for furniture and decor in Vatican buildings.
Commenting on the day’s reading from the Acts of the Apostles, in which St. Paul preaches to pagan Athenians at the Areopagus, Pope Francis said that “Paul is a pontifex, a builder of bridges. He doesn’t want to become a builder of walls.”
“He doesn’t say: ‘Idolaters, go to hell!” the pope said. “This is the attitude of Paul in Athens: Build a bridge to their heart, in order then to take another step and announce Jesus Christ.”
Pope Francis said that the apostle followed the example of Jesus himself, who “dined with Pharisees, with sinners, with publicans, with doctors of the law. Jesus heard everyone, and when he said a word of condemnation, it was at the end, when there was nothing else to do.
“Christians who are afraid to build bridges and prefer to build walls are Christians who are not sure of their faith, not sure of Jesus Christ,” he said.
“When the church loses this apostolic courage,” he said, “it becomes a stalled church, a tidy church, nice, very nice, but without fertility, because it has lost the courage to go to the peripheries, where there are so many victims of idolatry, of worldliness, of weak thinking.”
In these terms, the pope said, “now is a good time in the life of the church, the last 50 or 60 years have been a good time.
“Because I remember when I was a child one would hear in Catholic families, in my family: ‘No, we cannot go to their house, because they are not married in the church, eh!’ It was like an exclusion. No, you couldn’t go. Or ‘because they are socialists or atheists, we cannot go,'” Pope Francis said.
“Now, thank God, that isn’t said, right?” he said. “It was like a defense of the faith, but with walls. The Lord made bridges.”
Join the CatholicPhilly.com family
CatholicPhilly.com works to strengthen the connections between people, families and communities every day by delivering the news people need to know about the Catholic Church, especially in the Philadelphia region, and the world in which we live.
By your donation in any amount, you and hundreds of other people become part of our mission to inform, form in the Catholic faith and inspire the thousands of readers who visit every month.
Here is how you can help:
- A $100 gift allows us to present award-winning photos of Catholic life in our neighborhoods.
- A $50 gift enables us to cover a news event in a local parish, school or Catholic institution.
- A $20 gift lets us obtain solid faith formation resources that can deepen your spirituality and knowledge of the faith.
- A small, automated monthly donation means you can support us continually and easily.
Won't you consider making a gift today?
Please join in the church's vital mission of communications by offering a gift in whatever amount that you can ― a single gift of $40, $50, $100, or more, or a monthly donation. Your gift will strengthen the fabric of our entire Catholic community and sustain CatholicPhilly.com as your trusted news source. Thank you in advance!
Make your donation by credit card here:
Or make your donation by check:
222 N. 17th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103
PREVIOUS: Vatican, U.S. sign deal to cooperate in fight against financial crime
NEXT: Don’t be a sourpuss, be joyful, Pope Francis says
Share this story