ANAHEIM, Calif. — A key adviser to Pope Francis said Catholics must resist becoming complacent in their faith, and should pray for “a missionary pacemaker” to jumpstart their missionary zeal.
“We have the best technologies of orientation, but never before has the world been so disoriented. People don’t know where they come from or where they go. People are lost in this forest of individualism and isolation,” Cardinal Óscar Rodríguez Maradiaga said Saturday, addressing a crowd of several hundred at the Los Angeles Religious Education Congress. “We need to heal so much suffering, pain, and be near them.”
Pope Francis, he said, wants Catholics to “share our treasures” with others — but avoid proselytizing in the process.
“Mission is not proselytism,” said the first cardinal from Honduras and head of the pope’s cardinal advisory council. “We are not going to the mission trying to convert other people, to say, ‘If you don’t convert you will go to hell.’ No, this is not mission.”
Rather, he said, people will be drawn to the faith through personal acts of charity and love. He said it’s especially tempting for Catholics in wealthy places to forget that there are people in need of help right in their own backyards.
“Going to the peripheries means to take notice that poverty is surrounding us, even in a great nation like yours,” he said.
Rodriguez, responding to a question from the audience, said that “renovating” the Church must be a priority for all Catholics, but dismissed the notion that there are any easy answers.
“People say the Church will be renovated when, tomorrow, all the priests will be married. But who is saying that? Have you ever asked the priests?” he said, smiling, before timidly using the Spanish word for mother-in-law.
Rodriguez hinted that honorary titles for high-ranking churchmen — such as “Your Eminence” for cardinals — could become a thing of the past under Francis.
“This was one of the suggestions in the pre-conclave, and it would take a little time, but it’s going in that direction,” he said.
He said the Church must rely on “translators” to help decipher complicated Church language for lay people, especially regarding the upcoming synod on the family. He said he hopes the laity won’t be turned off by confusing legalese, and contribute to the synod preparation.
“Talk, please talk,” he said. “If you find the questions for the next synod are too complicated, write down ‘we need this and that,’ and it will be taken into consideration.”