Pope Francis urged the Kazakhstan clergy to be active, inspired, and living icons with their witness on September 15.
The Pope delivered the address to bishops, priests, deacons, consecrated persons, seminarians, and lay pastoral workers at the Cathedral of Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan.
He said, "We must remain attentive and not be paralyzed and immobile with nostalgia, but rather be inspired and grateful for all the wonderful things the Lord has accomplished, motivating us to set out, to move forward, to spread the word about Jesus."
The pope added that the special mission of bishops and priests is to be close to the people and "living icons of the compassionate heart of Christ" rather than the "administrators of the sacred or enforcers of religious rules."
Pope Francis said that through personal witness, the faith will grow and it is a call destined for everyone.
The Pope reflected on the rich Christian history of Central Asian countries, including Kazakhstan, and how the witness of those who lived their faith can teach Catholics how to live joyful Christian lives.
Since the first centuries, Christianity existed in Central Asia with the rich witness of evangelizers and missionaries who founded communities, shrines, and monasteries in the country.
The Pope recalled a Kazak priest, Blessed Wladyslaw Bukowinski, who shared his witness of faith by caring for those in need.
He said, "The risk of fading joy, faith, and gratitude to God and the over-dependence on ourselves if we forget the living memory of those who came before us."
By remembering the examples of those who lived before us, we can learn that faith grows through witness.
Most of the participants in the meeting came from different countries, so the Pope underscores the richness and strength in the diversity of the Church to be shared through witnesses.
He encouraged, "The strength in the diversity of the Church and the richness in different experiences must be shared with others to witness the living Church."
In his homily, Pope Francis said that in the richness of diversity, a singular family where no one is left behind.
Pope Francis added that faith is an "ever-present event, an encounter with Christ here and now in our lives when we live in communities together as disciples."
The Pope described that a "synodal church" is one that includes all people, formed in communion, who go outside of themselves to reach people at church, at work, and in society. -With input from Vatican News
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