Pope Francis: “A Church that does not go out of itself…sickens from the stale air of closed rooms”

That comment, and more, is contained in a message the Holy Father sent to Argentine bishops. Details:

Pastoral ministry should always be missionary and its ministers must be courageous evangelizers not afraid to go out ‘into the deep’, the outskirts of existence, to bring the ‘sweet and comforting joy’ of faith to people today.

This is Pope Francis’ message to his brother Argentinian bishops who are gathered in the city of Pilar for their Plenary Assembly, an assembly he was to have led as President of the Episcopal Conference, before his election to the papacy.

In a letter sent to the group, who will remain in closed session until April 20, the Pope begins by ‘apologizing’ for his absence noting that ‘recent commitments’ have impeded his attending. He then urges them to reflect on the theme ‘Into the Deep’ in light of the great missionary document of Aparecida, launched following the V General Conference of the Bishops of Latin America and the Caribbean. A document the then Cardinal Bergoglio helped draft.

“Mission” he notes, “is key to ministry”. “A Church that does not go out of itself, sooner or later, sickens from the stale air of closed rooms”. Pope Francis went on to concede that at times, like anyone else, in going out the Church risks running into accidents. But he added “I prefer a thousand times over a Church of accidents than a sick Church”.

Pope Francis said that the Church typically suffers from being self-referential, of only looking to and relying on itself. He spoke of a “narcissism that leads to a routine spirituality and convoluted clericalism” and prevents people from experiencing the sweet and comforting joy of evangelization.

Pope Francis concluded his letter with a special greeting to the Argentinian people, and a fraternal embrace for his fellow bishops asking them to pray so that “I do not grow proud and always know how to listen to what God wants and not what I want”.

There’s more. Read it all.