By Cindy Wooden
Catholic News Service
Pope Francis meets with the poor last October at the archbishop’s residence in Assisi, Italy. Pope Francis’ most frequent advice and exhortation to Catholics: “Go forth.” (CNS/Paul Haring)
VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Francis’ most frequent advice and exhortation to Catholics — from laypeople in parishes to bishops and cardinals — is “Go forth.”
Over and over during the first year of his pontificate, Pope Francis has asked practicing Catholics to realize the grace they have been given and accept responsibility for helping others experience the same grace — especially the poor, the sick and others left on the “peripheries” or margins of society.
The health of the church depends on it, he has said. If Catholics jealously hoard the gift of being loved by God and the joy of salvation, not sharing it with others, “we will become isolated, sterile and sick Christians,” he said in his message for World Mission Sunday 2013.
“Each one of us can think of persons who live without hope and are immersed in a profound sadness that they try to escape by thinking they can find happiness in alcohol, drugs, gambling, the power of money, promiscuity,” he told parish leaders from the Diocese of Rome in June.
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