Here’s an excerpt:
Father Mallon pointed to how Pope Francis described himself in a recent interview with Jesuit magazines, noting when he was asked ‘Who is Jorge Maria Bergoglio?’ he replied, “I am a sinner whom the Lord has looked upon.”
The pope stressed the first proclamation—“Jesus Christ has saved you,” Father Mallon said. Kerygma is the Greek word for proclamation. When someone had gained a victory in battle, they would send a messenger ahead, galloping on a horse to bring the good news.
The Pope as Cardinal Bergoglio was the chief author of the Aparacida document put out by the Latin American bishops in 2007 on new evangelization, which uses the words “missionary disciples 121 times” said Father Mallon. The document stressed conversion to Christ; conversion to Christ’s Church; and the conversion of others.
While more than 40 per cent of the world’s Catholics live in Latin America, Catholics are leaving the Church by the hundreds of thousands, Father Mallon said. “The biggest exodus is to evangelical and Pentecostal churches.”
The document’s authors did “exit interview,” Father Mallon said, to find out why Catholics were leaving.
They discovered most had left because they found a religious experience; they found a better community life; better Biblical and doctrinal formation; and a better missionary community, the sense the entire group was involved in missions, he said.
In other words, “they never had a personal encounter with Jesus Christ” in the Catholic Church but in other churches, Father Mallon said. “They did not hear a kerygmatic message” that led to an intense personal encounter.”
Part of the problem is the church stresses catechism and sacraments, he said. Instead, talk first about the kerygma and conversion, then talk about the sacraments, he said. Lead children to the living Jesus, an encounter with the living Jesus, not a dead Jesus of history.
The Pope told the Jesuit magazine not to put moral issues like abortion, homosexuality and contraception ahead of the proclamation of the Good News. “There are other kinds of moral issues that are also a threat to deeper Catholic identity,” he said, adding social justice is also a moral issue that can obscure the “main thing” which is a relationship with Jesus Christ.
THOSE WHO HAVE LEFT THE CHURCH TO JOIN OTHER RELIGIOUS GROUPS
In our pastoral experience, often sincere people who leave our church do not do so because of what “non-Catholic” groups believe, but fundamentally for what they live; not for doctrinal but for vivential reasons; not for strictly dogmatic, but for pastoral reasons; not for theological problems, but to methodological problems of our Church. They hope to find answers to their concerns. They are seeking, albeit with serious dangers, answers to some aspirations that perhaps they have not found in the Church, as ought to be the case.
In our church we should enhance work along four lines:
a) Religious experience. In our Church we must offer all our faithful “a personal encounter with Jesus Christ,” a profound and intense religious experience, a kerygmatic proclamation and the personal witness of the evangelizers that leads to a personal conversion and to a thorough change of life.
b) Community life. Our faithful are seeking Christian communities where they are accepted fraternally and feel valued, visible, and included in the Church. Our faithful must really feel that they are members of an ecclesial community and stewards of its development.
And so on.