“The Church of Christ does not want to dominate consciences and occupy spaces, it wants to be a “source” of hope in people’s lives. (…) Let no one feel oppressed. (…) May the proclamation of the Gospel be liberating, never oppressive; and the Church, a sign of freedom and welcome”, the Pope told the members of the Slovak Church.
Wherever he goes, for Pope Francis, meeting bishops, priests, religious, seminarians and catechists is the time for a frank and sincere conversation, when he “feels at home”. And it was no different with the Slovaks: “I come as a brother, one of you,” he said at St. Martin’s Cathedral in Bratislava.
“I am here to share your journey”, he affirmed, and the Church is built together, traveling the roads of life with the flame of the Gospel lit.
The Church is not a fortress, a castle. “Here, in Bratislava, the castle already exists. And it’s beautiful!” But the Church is the community that wants to draw to Christ through the joy of the Gospel. So it is fair to ask: What is expected of the Church? Francisco responded with three words: freedom, creativity and dialogue.
“Without freedom there is no true humanity,” the Pope said. The human being was created free to remain free.
“The Church of Christ does not want to dominate consciences and occupy spaces, it wants to be a “source” of hope in people’s lives. (…) Let no one feel oppressed. (…) May the proclamation of the Gospel be liberating, never oppressive; and the Church, a sign of freedom and acceptance.”
When talking about creativity, the Pontiff called into question the figures of Saints Cyril and Methodius, evangelizers from the Slav lands. Cyril and Methodius invented a new alphabet for Bible translation. Then the Pope made a provocation: “Doesn’t Slovakia need this, also today? Is this not the Church’s most urgent task among the peoples of Europe: finding new “alphabets” to proclaim the faith?
“In view of the loss of the sense of God and the joy of faith, it is no use lamenting, entrenching oneself in defensive Catholicism, judging and accusing the world; what serves is the creativity of the Gospel.”
Finally, dialogue, the need for a Church that knows how to dialogue with the world, with whom she confesses Christ without being “one of us”, with whom she lives the fatigue of a religious quest, and even with those who do not believe. For Francis, it is necessary to respond to Jesus’ invitation to break the vicious and destructive circle of violence, “turning the other cheek to those who beat us, to overcome evil with good”.
As an example, he cited the story of Jesuit Cardinal Korec, persecuted by the regime, imprisoned, forced to work until he fell ill. “When he went to Rome in the Jubilee of the year 2000, he went to the catacombs and lit a candle for his persecutors, begging them for mercy. This is Gospel!”
The Pope concluded his speech expressing the hope that the Slovak Church will continue on its path “in the freedom of the Gospel, in the creativity of faith and in the dialogue that springs from the mercy of God”.
Pope Francis with Consecrated Life in St. Martin’s Cathedral in Bratislava