VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The church must evangelize in the world’s big cities “without fearing pluralism” or ceding to discrimination, said Pope Francis in his message to an international evangelization conference in Barcelona, Spain.

“The church has the mission to bring the good news of Jesus Christ and his saving love to diverse contexts, without fearing pluralism and without falling into any form of discrimination,” he said. His message was read Nov. 25 at a Liturgy of the Word, held in Barcelona’s most renowned church, La Sagrada Familia.

Everyone living in “large urban centers, which are always in expansion … need to feel the closeness and the mercy of God, who does not abandon them,” the pope said. “God always knows how to make himself known. He takes the initiative to offer the true meaning of life to those who are alone, disoriented or suffering from the wounds often brought on by a frenetic society that does not demonstrate solidarity.”


The liturgy was part of the second series of meetings of the International Congress on Ministry in Big Cities Nov. 24-26. For two days, 23 bishops from some of the world’s largest cities, including San Francisco, gathered to discuss the challenges and approaches to ministry in large urban centers. They reflected on a 30-page document, produced after the first series of meetings in May, which had called together sociologists, theologians and ministry experts.

In his message, the pope said he was pleased with the discussions to date and encouraged congress participants to continue their reflection “in a creative way.” The church “does not consider it wasteful to go to the peripheries and to change the usual plans, when it serves,” he said.

Rather, the church is “like a mother” interested only in what is good for her children, he continued. “Without holding back any efforts and sacrifices,” the church must offer people “the welcome to feel they are integrated in a community” and the light of the Gospel so that they may live a “fruitful life of hope, joy and peace,” he said.