VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Bringing the Gospel to people of different cultures and viewpoints requires discernment, but most of all it requires evangelizers who have encountered Christ and want to share his love with all, Pope Francis said.

“For a world in transformation, there is need of a renewed church transformed by contemplation and a personal encounter with Christ,” he said May 9 during a meeting with the national directors of the pontifical mission societies.


The societies include the Holy Childhood Association, Missionary Union of Priests and Religious, Society for the Propagation of the Faith and the Society of St. Peter the Apostle, which promote missionary awareness and raise funds for the work of the church in mission territories around the globe.

The example of the missionary societies and the men and women they support in proclaiming the Gospel to the ends of the earth should motivate all Catholic communities to create “outgoing and effective” pastoral programs, the pope said.

Christ’s mandate to share the good news of salvation with all people is clear, Pope Francis said. “We cannot allow our weaknesses, our sins or the many obstacles to witnessing and proclaiming the Gospel to hold us back.”

And because brotherhood and solidarity are essential to the life and mission of the church, he said, evangelization efforts must “begin with the least, the poor, those whose backs are bent under the weight and burden of life. In that way, the church continues the mission of Christ who ‘came that they would have life and have it in abundance.'”

“The church is the people of the Beatitudes, the home of the poor, the afflicted, the excluded and persecuted, those who hunger and thirst for justice,” Pope Francis said, asking the missionary societies to help Catholic communities “learn to welcome the poor with preferential love, keeping the doors of the church open so all may enter and find refuge.”