Pope Francis delivered a simple simple message to Latin American bishops in Brazil today—if you're going to help the needy and keep people from straying from the church, you've got to get outside and actually meet them:
- "We cannot keep ourselves shut up in parishes, in our communities, when so many people are waiting for the Gospel," he said. "Let us courageously look to pastoral needs, beginning on the periphery (of where we live), with those who are farthest away, with those who do not usually go to church. They, too, are invited to the table of the Lord."
The speech drove home "a critique of elitism that has become the overarching theme of his first overseas trip," writes the Wall Street Journal
, while USA Today
sees it "as yet another admonishment ... for Catholics to adopt a more missionary mindset."
After speaking to the region's bishops, Francis addressed politicians, business leaders, and intellectuals, and urged them to reach out to all members of society, too. "When leaders in various fields ask me for advice, my response is always the same: dialogue, dialogue, dialogue," he said, per USA Today. "It is the only way for individuals, families, and societies to grow, the only way for the life of peoples to progress." (Read more Pope Francis stories.)