.- Pope Francis said Saturday that catechists have the vital responsibility of leading others to a personal encounter with Jesus through prayer, the sacraments, and Scripture.
“The kerygma is a person: Jesus Christ. Catechesis is a special space for fostering a personal encounter with Him,” Pope Francis said in the Clementine Hall of the Apostolic Palace Jan. 30.
“There is no true catechesis without the testimony of men and women in flesh and blood. Who among us does not remember at least one of his catechists? I do. I remember the nun who prepared me for my First Communion and was so good to me,” the pope added.
Pope Francis received an audience with some of the members of the National Catechetical Office of the Italian bishops’ conference at the Vatican.
He told the catechetical leaders that a catechist is a Christian who remembers that the important thing is “not to talk about himself or herself, but to talk about God, about His love and fidelity.”
“Catechesis is the echo of the Word of God … to transmit the joy of the Gospel in life,” the pope said.
“Sacred Scripture becomes the ‘environment’ in which we feel part of the same salvation history, encountering the first witnesses of faith. Catechesis is taking others by the hand and accompanying them in this history. It inspires up a journey, in which each person finds his or her own rhythm, because Christian life does not even out or standardize, but rather enhances the uniqueness of each child of God.”
Pope Francis recalled that St. Pope Paul VI had said that the Second Vatican Council would be “the great catechism of the new times.”
The pope went on to say that there is a problem today with “selectivity with respect to the Council.”
“The Council is the magisterium of the Church. Either you are with the Church and therefore you follow the Council, and if you do not follow the Council or you interpret it in your own way, as you wish, you are not with the Church. We must be demanding and strict on this point,” Pope Francis said.
“Please, no concessions to those who try to present a catechesis that does not agree with the Magisterium of the Church.”
The pope called catechesis “an extraordinary adventure” with the task of “reading the signs of the times and accepting present and future challenges.”
“Just as in the post-Council period the Italian Church was ready and able to embrace the signs and sensibilities of the times, so too today she is called to offer a renewed catechesis that inspires every area of pastoral care: charity, liturgy, family, culture, social life, economics,” he said.
“We must not be afraid to speak the language of the women and men of today. To speak a language that is outside the Church, yes, we must be afraid of that. [But] we must not be afraid to speak the language of the people,” Pope Francis said.
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