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Hope in Christ, Pope Francis urges religious education conference

"If you are a Christian, you are Church; the Church is outgoing, not inward-looking, and you must reach the existential peripheries"

Pope Francis encouraged those participating in the Los Angeles Religious Education Congress to hope in Christ’s mercy and to be outgoing, in a video message sent to the conference Friday.

“The theme of the Congress, ‘Living waters of hope’, invites us to constantly renew ourselves in the water and blood that flow from the heart of Jesus, as wellsprings of mercy for the entire world. Without this living water, our mission may be transformed into an internal and painful religiosity… If you are a Christian, you are Church; the Church is outgoing, not inward-looking, and you must reach the existential peripheries with courage and creativity,” the pope said March 18.

Pope Francis’ video message was played at the opening of the March 18-19 Religious Education Congress in Anaheim, California.

The first event was held in 1956 by the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine.

“In these days, we are aware that the pandemic continues to invite us to watch over each other,” the pope reflected in his message. “The coronavirus continues to cause social separation and, sadly, the loss of life for many people, and this generates a social crisis. Our hope – we are believers – is placed in the Lord! In this time of fear and uncertainty, Our Lord continues to invite us to go ahead and proclaim our faith in his Mercy, in his Tenderness and in his tremendous Love.”

He noted the celebration of the 250th anniversary of Mission San Gabriel Arcangel, the first church founded by Saint Junipero Serra, whom he called “that great Apostle of Mexico and California.”

“During his canonization in 2015, I indicated that ‘he was the embodiment of “a Church which goes forth”, a Church which sets out to bring everywhere the reconciling tenderness of God’. May this jubilee be a great opportunity for renewal,” Pope Francis said.

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The pope added he prays that during the Congress “Our Lord may fill your hearts with the living waters of his Spirit and renew your zeal as missionary disciples who always ‘go ahead’ in faith, to take his hope to the entire world, not with fine words, but with genuine acts of accompaniment, sharing with everyone the joy of knowing that we are not alone.”

“May God, made man in Jesus, come with us through the day of life, urging us to dream and to walk together towards the Father, transforming history and transforming ourselves.”

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