Sherry Weddell, who has forgotten more about the Church’s mission work and engagement with developing countries than most of us will ever know writes:
From an interview with Pope Francis in 30 Days, 2007. He clearly has an apostolic, evangelizing heart and expects the same of his priests and lay people as well. I wish I could ask him some questions to get a bit more clarity about some of his comments below but he obviously has a great trust in the Holy Spirit and in the “tenderness of God” (what a lovely phrase).
BERGOGLIO: I didn’t say that pastoral systems are useless. On the contrary. In itself everything that leads by the paths of God is good. I have told my priests: «Do everything you should, you know your duties as ministers, take your responsibilities and then leave the door open».
Our sociologists of religion tell us that the influence of a parish has a radius of six hundred meters. In Buenos Aires there are about two thousand meters between one parish and the next. So I then told the priests: «If you can, rent a garage and, if you find some willing layman, let him go there! Let him be with those people a bit, do a little catechesis and even give communion if they ask him». A parish priest said to me: «But Father, if we do this the people then won’t come to church». «But why?» I asked him: «Do they come to mass now?» «No», he answered. And so! Coming out of oneself is also coming out from the fenced garden of one’s own convictions, considered irremovable, if they risk becoming an obstacle, if they close the horizon that is also of God.
This is valid also for lay people…
BERGOGLIO: Their clericalization is a problem. The priests clericalize the laity and the laity beg us to be clericalized… It really is sinful abetment. And to think that baptism alone could suffice. I’m thinking of those Christian communities in Japan that remained without priests for more than two hundred years. When the missionaries returned they found them all baptized, all validly married for the Church and all their dead had had a Catholic funeral. The faith had remained intact through the gifts of grace that had gladdened the life of a laity who had received only baptism and had also lived their apostolic mission in virtue of baptism alone. One must not be afraid of depending only on His tenderness…
This is going to alter the character of the New Evangelization like steroids.