Open door Church

Open door Church

Pope Francis    


Jesus' reprimanded his disciples who wanted to prevent people from bringing children to him. The disciples were not acting out of unkindness, they only wanted to help Jesus. They had done the same thing in Jericho when they tried to silence the blind man. It was as if they had said ‘protocol does not permit it”, he is the second Person of the Trinity.... This reminds me of many Christians.

An engaged couple who went to a parish office and instead of receiving support and congratulations were fobbed off with a list of the prices for the wedding and asked to show their documents. So they found the
door closed. Those who could have opened the door, thanking God for this new marriage, failed to do. On the contrary, they shut it. So often “we control faith rather than facilitating it”, and this is something “which began in Jesus’ time with the Apostles”. We are tempted to “take over the Lord”.

A girl-mother goes to the parish to ask for Baptism for her child and hears “a Christian” say: “no, you can't have it, you’re not married”. “Look at this girl who had had the courage to carry her pregnancy to term” and not to have an abortion. “What does she find? A closed door”, as do so many. “This is not good pastoral zeal, it distances people from the Lord and does not open doors. So when we take this path... we are not doing good to people, the People of God”. Jesus “instituted seven sacraments, and with this approach we institute the eighth, the sacrament of the
pastoral customs office”.

Jesus wants everyone to be close to him. “Let us think of all Christians of good will who err and shut the door instead of opening it”. Let us ask the Lord to grant that “all who approach the Church find doors open to encounter Jesus' love.



Pope Francis   23.10.19  General Audience, St Peter's Square     Catechesis on the Acts of the Apostles     Acts 11: 19-26,     Acts 14: 27 to 15:31

Pope Francis  23.10.19 General Audience - Open Door Church

Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!

The Book of the Acts of the Apostles tells us that St. Paul, after that transforming encounter with Jesus, is taken into the Church of Jerusalem through the mediation of Barnabas and begins to announce Christ. However, due to the hostility of some, he is forced to move to Tarsus, his hometown, where Barnabas joins him to involve him in the long journey of the Word of God. The Book of the Acts of the Apostles, which we are commenting on in these catechesis's can be said to be the book of the long voyage of the Word of God: the Word of God must be announced, and announced everywhere. This journey begins after a strong persecution (cf. Acts 11:19); but this, instead of causing a setback for evangelization, becomes an opportunity to enlarge the field where the good seed of the Word is spread. Christians are not afraid. They must flee, but they flee with the Word, and they spread the Word everywhere.

Paul and Barnabas first arrive in Antioch of Syria, where they stop for a whole year to teach and help the community to put down roots (cf. Acts 11:26). They were telling the Jewish community, about the Jews. Antioch thus becomes the centre of missionary propulsion, thanks to the preaching with which the two evangelizers – Paul and Barnabas – influence the hearts of the believers, who here, in Antioch, are called for the first time "Christians" (cf. Acts 11:26).

The nature of the Church emerges from the Book of Acts, it is not a fortress, but a tent capable of enlarging its space (cf. Is 54:2) so that all can enter. The Church is "outgoing" or it is not Church, it is either on the path, enlarging itself always, or is not Church. "It is a Church with its doors open" (Exorc. Evangelii gaudium,46),always with the doors open. When I see some little church here, in this city, or when I see it in another diocese where I go, with the its doors closed, that's a bad sign. Churches must always have their doors open because this is a symbol of what a church is: always open. The Church is called to always be the open house of the Father. So that, if someone wants to follow a movement of the Spirit and approaches looking for God, they will not find themselves coming face to face with the coldness of a closed door(ibid., 47).

But now here come the problems, this newness of the open doors open to the pagans? To the pagans, because the Apostles preached to the Jews, but the pagans also came to knock on the door of the Church; and this novelty of the doors open to pagans unchains a very animated controversy. Some Jews affirm the necessity of circumcision for being saved, and then to receive baptism. They say, "If you do not let yourself be circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved"(Acts 15:1), that is, you cannot receive baptism later. First the Jewish rite and then the baptism: this was their position. And to resolve the issue, Paul and Barnabas consult the council of the Apostles and elders in Jerusalem, and what is considered to be the first council in the history of the Church, the council or assembly of Jerusalem, referred to by Paul in the Letter to Galatians (2:1-10).

A very delicate theological, spiritual and disciplinary question is addressed: that is, the relationship between faith in Christ and the observance of the Law of Moses. Decisive in the course of the assembly were the speeches of Peter and James, "pillars" of the Mother Church (cf. Acts 15.7-21; Gal 2.9). They invite them not to impose circumcision on the pagans, but to ask them only to reject idolatry in all of its expressions. From this comes a common path, and this decision is ratified by the apostolic letter sent to Antioch.

The Jerusalem Assembly offers us an important light on how to deal with differences and how to seek "truth in charity"(Ef 4.15). It reminds us that the Church's method for conflict resolution is based on dialogue of attentive and patient listening and discernment in the light of the Spirit. It is the Spirit, in fact, that helps to overcome closures and tensions and works in our hearts so that we may reach, in truth and good, unity. This text helps us to understand the synodality. It is interesting as the Letter writes: they begin, the Apostles, saying: "The Holy Spirit and we think that ...". It is precisely synodality, the presence of the Holy Spirit, otherwise it is not synodality, it is talk, it is a parliament, an other thing ...

Let us ask the Lord to strengthen in all Christians, especially in bishops and priests, the desire and responsibility of communion. May He help us to live the dialogue, the listening and the encounter with our brothers and sisters in faith and with those far from it, in order to taste and manifest the fruitfulness of the Church, called to be in every time the "joyful mother" of many children (cf. Sal 113.9).