Challenge of Sects Calls for Strong Evangelization, Says Pope
Stresses Need for Eucharist to Be at the Heart of Pastoral Plans
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VATICAN CITY, MARCH 8, 2004 (Zenit.org).- The phenomenon of modern sects calls for a "courageous endeavor of new evangelization" that will lead every human being to an encounter with Jesus, says John Paul II.
"To listen to and to follow Christ" is the experience the Pope proposed 25 years ago with the publication of his first encyclical "Redemptor Hominis," which he recalled when presiding at a Mass on Saturday in Paul VI Hall.
The Mass was attended by faithful of the Roman parishes of St. Bridget of Sweden, St. Hillary of Poitiers, and St. Maximus.
With the visit of these three communities of the west of the Italian capital, the number of parishes the Holy Father has met with rises to 310.
During the homily, the Pope said that in the Palmarola area, to which the three parish communities belong, "the phenomenon of modern sects" is spreading. The sects try to attract "those who find themselves in difficulties and loneliness," he said.
"In this context, it is necessary to undertake a strong and courageous endeavor of new evangelization," so that Jesus, "center of the cosmos and of history, will meet with every human being," John Paul II exhorted.
"To proclaim Christ is to make each one experience -- but especially those who suffer from spiritual and material poverty -- divine tenderness and mercy," the Pope explained.
The Holy Father suggested to the parish communities that they "become places of hospitality and solidarity."
He reminded them that they must be "schools of education in the authentic faith, aware of being custodians of a great treasure which it is not right to waste, but which must be continually augmented."
The Pontiff also asked that the Eucharist be "at the center of every pastoral plan," because "it builds the Church as authentic community of the People of God and always regenerates it on the basis of the sacrifice of Christ himself."
"Above all," he said, "I invite you, dear families, to make reference to the Eucharist, as you are called to support your children in the path of preparation to the sacraments of Christian initiation and to follow them in adolescence and beyond, so that, growing, they will faithfully carry out the mission that God has reserved for them."
"I know that your parishes still do not have adequate structures for their pastoral and social activities," the Pope told the faithful.
"In spite of this," he added, "may it not hinder you from making the proclamation resonate, in every corner of Palmarola, that Jesus goes out to meet man, including the man of our time, with the same words: 'You will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.'"