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Parishes must be places where people are welcomed and loved

ROME (CNS): Too often, evangelisation is stifled by “faith understood only as things to do and not as a liberation that renews us at every step,” said Pope Francis said on May 14, as he spoke to some 1,700 diocesan leaders, both clergy and laity, at the Basilica of St. John Lateran, in Rome.
“Our parishes must be capable of generating a people, that is, of offering and creating relationships where people feel that they are known, recognized, welcomed, listened to, loved—in other words, not anonymous parts of a whole,” the pope said.
To move forward, he said, Catholic communities must look at “the slaveries—the illnesses—that have ended up making us sterile.”
He noted that parishes are often slaves to doing things the ways they always have been done and to investing time and energy in projects and programmes that no longer meet the needs of the people.
Pope Francis said that a renewed outreach must begin by “learning to discern where God already is present in very ordinary forms of holiness and communion with him.”
He pointed out that there are people in the parishes who might not know their catechism, but they see the basic interactions in their lives through a lens of faith and hope.
Changing the way parishes—and their priests and involved laity—operate will not be easy, the pope said, but members of the diocese must set out to follow the Lord more closely, deal with the reality in their neighbourhoods and learn how to show everyone living within the parish boundaries that they are recognised and loved.
Pope Francis called  for a “revolution of tenderness” saying that while “guiding a Christian community is the specific task of the ordained minister—the pastor—pastoral care is based in baptism and blossoms from brotherhood and is not the task only of the pastor and priests, but of all the baptised.”
The pope’s speech marked his formal reception of a report from the diocese of Rome on spiritual illnesses afflicting the city. 
Through a process that began in Lent, parishes identified the main challenges as “the economy of exclusion, selfish laziness, comfortable individualism, wars among us, sterile pessimism and spiritual worldliness,” according to a statement from the diocese.

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